RFU Championship News

Friday 18th

18th November 2011


RFU Championship News Friday 18th November 2011

RFU Championship News. Previews of all the Round 11 games. All the teams plus news and comment

Friday 18 November 2011 Saturday 19 November 2011
Nottingham v Plymouth Albion 19:45

Sunday 20 November 2011
Bristol v Cornish Pirates 15:00
Bedford v Moseley 15:00
Esher v Leeds Carnegie 15:00
London Welsh v London Scottish 14:00
Rotherham Titans v Doncaster 14:00

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The top two will do battle when the Championship resumes the weekend after next, but it is the Cornish Pirates – not the host side Bristol – who will go into the fixture at the Memorial Stadium on November 20 as league leaders.

A bonus- point win for the Pirates over Rotherham - coupled with Bristol’s shock defeat away from home at the hands of Moseley - means Chris Stirling’s men top the standings going into the mini break for the British & Irish Cup.

For Leeds, the disruption to the league programme is particularly untimely given that they made it five wins on the trot with a 22-19 win over Nottingham – the fifth time in six games that Carnegie have been involved in games separated by a single score.

To further emphasis the tightness of the Championship as a whole, just three points cover the top five sides. London Welsh lie in third – ahead of Bedford on points difference - after a spirited second- half showing helped them to victory at Doncaster.

The Blues, meanwhile, maintained their impressive away form with a 38-21 win over Plymouth at Brickfields. Jake Sharp was the star of the show as the

Blues made it five wins from six games on the road with an 18- point personal haul that included a try, five conversions and a penalty.

Elsewhere, Esher will not remember the 5th of November with any fondness as they went down to a tenth straight defeat of the season at London Scottish.

Friday 18 November 2011

Nottingham v Plymouth Albion 19:45



The Green and Whites take on Plymouth Albion at Meadow Lane tonight in what is set to be a close and exciting encounter.

Nottingham suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Leeds Carnegie in their last League tie as they missed a number of opportunities on a frustrating Sunday afternoon, but the team will be hoping to take motivation from that match and claim a win against Plymouth to bolster their League standing

Director of Rugby, Glenn Delaney, said: “It was a very close game for us against Leeds. We had a couple of opportunities to draw and maybe even win, so it’s a case of coming back, looking at the processes and working hard.”

With Plymouth just one place below Nottingham in the table the team will not be in for an easy challenge and Delaney has been preparing his side for the clash.

“Plymouth are a very physical side and they move the ball incredibly well. We’re going to have to be very organised and continue to establish our game. Training has been going well for us and we’re ready to get out on the pitch.”

Nottingham will be buoyed by their excellent comeback victory against Pontypridd in the B&I Cup last weekend which has helped to create a real ‘buzz’ around the squad.

New signing Brent Wilson will also be making his League debut after a successful first outing for Nottingham in last week’s British and Irish Cup match. The former Newcastle Falcons flanker has transitioned well into the side and will be hoping to taste his first Championship win with Nottingham.

Matt Parr comes back into the front row while Nathan Jones continues at scrum half and Andy Savage gets his first league start of the season on the wing, following a long injury lay off.


Plymouth Albion


PLYMOUTH Albion are able to welcome back lock Dan Collier to their team for tonight's trip to Nottingham

Collier has missed Albion's last two matches due to an ankle injury.

Also returning to Albion's league side are fit-again Mark Lee and Herbie Stupple.

Fly-half Lee, who has been troubled with a knee injury, will be making only his second Championship start of the season, while back-row forward Stupple, who missed a month after suffering a nasty head injury, will make only his third league start.

Lee comes in for long-serving Tongan centre Keni Fisilau, who misses his first Championship game of the season due to suspension after picking up three yellow cards.

With regular club captain Sean-Michael Stephen still a week away from returning from a broken hand, fellow Canadian international back-row forward Aaron Carpenter will skipper the team at Meadow Lane, as Albion go looking for their first away win of the season.

The Green and Whites, who sit just one place above Albion in the table, are set to include former Plymouth players Kieran Hallett and Nic Rouse in their side.


Matt Parr, Joe Duffey, Michael Holford, Craig Hammond (c), Nic Rouse
Sione Kalamafoni, Brent Wilson, Alex Shaw
Nathan Jones, James Arlidge, Mike Penn, Juan Socino, Ayoola Erinle
Andy Savage, Kieran Hallett

Ollie Taylor, Matt Shields, Lee Morley, Phil Eggleshaw, Finlay Barnham
Cobden Joe, Charlie Hayter

15 James Love, 14 Mick McGrath, 13 Bevon Armitage, 12 Paul Bailey, 11 Tyson Lewis
10 Mark Lee, 9 Ruairi Cushion
1 Rob Dugard, 2 Gareth Evans, 3 Ryan Hopkins, 4 Dan Collier, 5 Tyler Hotson
6 Herbie Stupple, 7 Wayne Sprangle, 8 Aaron Carpenter (capt).

16 Dale Farnham, 17 Steve Johns, 18 James Tyas, 19 David Morton
20 Davy McGregor, 21 Addison Lockley, 22 Sam Hocking

Saturday 19 November 2011

Bedford v Moseley 15:00



Bedford Blues are hoping to rediscover their home form on Saturday afternoon, but they know that they will be in for one heck of a challenge when Moseley come through the gates tomorrow.

Following a disappointing last gasp defeat to Melrose in the British & Irish Cup last weekend, the Blues are looking to re-establish their credentials in the league as Kevin Maggs brings his Midlanders to Goldington Road. Moseley were also a losing team in the cup last week going down 42-3 to Cross Keys, but they come into the game buoyed by an impressive 33-27 win over Bristol in their last league outing.

Bedford players are slowly recovering from a number of early injury setbacks and Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer is able to welcome back captain James Pritchard and hooker Neil Cochrane into the starting line-up for Saturday’s encounter.

Speaking ahead of the game Rayer said: “Everyone was left deflated by the result last weekend, but we only had ourselves to blame. We took a 17 point lead into the break but for whatever reason, we switched off in the second period and Melrose made us pay for that. It was however a great learning curve for some of our younger guys, at one stage we had four of this year’s Colts side on the pitch so they will have hopefully learnt a great deal from the experience.

“This Saturday will see us face another huge test in the form of Moseley who had an outstanding win last time out in the Championship. Their attacking game against Bristol was as good as anything I’ve seen so far this season.

“For us though it’s great to have so many guys back into the starting lineup. Sach, Brendan, Pritch and Neil Cochrane bring a wealth of experience with them, so to have them fresh and chomping at the bit will no doubt raise our performance levels. We have two home games on the bounce now so we must make them count”.




After a bitterly disappointing performance last week in the B&I Cup, Moseley keep faith for the trip to Bedford with the fifteen who started in the last League match against Bristol a fortnight ago.

Jack Adams, who missed that match through injury, returns to the squad on the bench.

The red and blacks will be looking for a win to kick start what has been a stuttering campaign so far.

Goldington Road has not been a happy hunting ground for Moseley in recent years, but this Midlands derby is always a fiercely contested affair.


15. James Pritchard (c) 14. Mark Kohler 13. Brendan Burke 12. Tom Bedford
11. Josh Bassett 10. Jake Sharp 9. Darryl Veenendaal
1. Sam Walsh 2. Neil Cochrane. 3 Phil Boulton 4. Mike Howard. Sean Tomes
6. Alex Rae (c) 7. Sacha Harding. Paul Tupai

16. Chris Locke, 17. Dan Seal, 18. Sam Pailor, 19. Don Barrell, 20. Stefan Liebenberg,
21. Jamie Lennard, 22. Ollie Dodge.

Moseley :
1. Tom Warren; 2.Adam Caves; 3. Craig Voisey; 4.David Lyons; 5.Dan Sanderson;
6.Neil Mason; 07.Michael Ellery; 8.Chevvy Pennycook
9. Ryan Glynn; 10. Oliver Thomas; 11. William Robinson; 12.Andy Reay; 13
Greg King; 14.Brad Hunt; 15. Anthony Carter

16.Paul Spivey;17. Michael Maltman; 18. Anthony O’donnell; 19. Charley Thoma
20.Brad Davies; 21.Jack Adams; 22 Sam Brown.

Esher v Leeds Carnegie 15:00



ESHER have been boosted by the return of four star players as they aim to spring a shock against mighty Leeds at Molesey Road on Saturday.

The Championship strugglers have Canadian centre Phil Mackenzie, former Saxons scrum-half Clive Stuart-Smith, lock Paul Barker and centre Arran Cruickshanks in the squad.

World Cup ace Mackenzie has been out since being concussed against Doncaster while Stuart-Smith showed no ill-effects at Monday training after a hamstring niggle.

Cruickshanks impressed in midfield on his return from a broken foot in last Saturday’s British and Irish Cup defeat by Leinster.

But the biggest boost is the return of experienced second-rower Barker, who played his first game of the campaign in the 32-18 defeat by the Irish province.

Barker has been missing with a knee injury sustained at the end of last season but could feature in the 22 against in-form Leeds.

The return of the fab four is a big lift for Director of Rugby Mike Schmid as Esher aim to end their desperate run of 10 straight league defeats that has left them rooted to the foot of the table without a solitary bonus point.

Schmid said: “It was great to see Arran Cruickshanks and Paul Barker back.

"Arran did very well against Leinster while Paul was outstanding.

“Paul has been one or our best players over the last few seasons and he played the full 80 minutes. It’s great to get such experienced players back.

“Phil Mackenzie is fine and will start while we are hoping Clive Stuart-Smith will be okay. He trained during the week and the hamstring seemed to be fine.”

Schmid knows the odds are stacked against Esher as they face a Leeds side who have won their last five games, including impressive wins against Bedford and Nottingham.

Leeds, who have the likes of former England wing Michael Stephenson in their ranks, will start as hot favourites but Schmid insists Esher will be ready for the challenge.

However, the Molesey Road chief concedes claiming a top-eight spot to avoid the relegation play-offs is virtually impossible now with eighth-placed Nottingham 24 points ahead.

He admitted: “Of course it’s unlikely but I still feel we are capable of winning a lot of games. The effort has been tremendous and we know we are capable of beating teams when we have a healthy team.

“We have got to go out there and give it a blast. We want to win our home games and pick up a few points away to be ready for the play-offs.

“Leeds are hitting some good form now after a poor start and after the disappointment of relegation from the Premiership. It often takes a while to work through that.”

Esher got another lift with the news that loosehead prop Dave Millard should play his first game of the season for the 2nd XV this weekend.

Millard has been out since last season after neck surgery. Schmid said:

“He’s been outstanding for us for a few seasons and it will be great to get him back. But we’ve got to be sensible and step it up week by week.”


Leeds Carnegie


Leeds Carnegie are looking to keep up their winning ways this week with a trip to bottom of the table Esher this Saturday.

Leeds name an unchanged back line from the side that beat Nottingham a fortnight ago in their last game in the Championship however there are four changes in the pack.

Sam Lockwood earns a place in the starting line up at loose head prop with Gareth Denman swapping places with him to the bench whilst Mo Mustafa will make his league debut for Leeds at tight head prop in place of the injured Phil Swainston.

Dan Hemingway comes into the second row in place of Sean Hohneck, who picked up an injury against Nottingham, and Ryan Burrows returns to the team having come through his comeback game last week in the win over Currie in the British & Irish Cup.

On the bench, Leeds are given a boost with the return of the experienced pair of Andy Titterrell and Mike MacDonald whilst young second row Dominic Barrow is also passed fit to return.


15 Geoff Griffiths 14 Charlie Walker 13 Phil Mackenzie 12 Arran Cruickshanks 11 Andy Wright
10 Mark Atkinson 9 Jamie Mackenzie 8 Chris Goodman (Capt) 7 Peter Synnott 6 Mike Macfarlane
5 Perry Parker 4 Paul Barker 3 James Gethings 2 Jamie Mackie 1 Ollie Mines

16 James Campbell 17 Mike Blakeburn 18 Shawn Renwick 19 Neil Sweeney
20 Rob Kirby 21 Sam Edgerley 22 Clive Stuart - Smith

Leeds Carnegie
15. Tommy Bell 14. Lee Blackett 13. Iain Thornley 12. Joe Barker
11. Michael Stephenson 10. Joe Ford 9. Robbie Shaw
1. Sam Lockwood 2. Phil Nilsen 3. Mo Mustafa 4. Tom Denton
5. Dan Hemingway 6. Ryan Burrows 7. Chris Walker 8. Jacob Rowan (c)

16. Andy Titterrell 17. Mike MacDonald 18. Gareth Denman 19. Dominic Barrow
20. Richard Beck 21. Dan White 22. Pete Lucock

London Welsh v London Scottish 14:00


London Welsh


London Welsh will re-enact the first-ever fixture in the club’s 126-year history when London Scottish make the short trip to Old Deer Park on Saturday.

Scottish provided London Welsh’s first-ever opponents in October 1885, winning by a goal and a try to no score at the Athletic Ground, while Saturday’s Championship clash will be the fourth league meeting between the two great rivals.

The last time they locked horns in the league was in 1989/90 when Scottish won 18-14 in League 3 at the Athletic Ground. In 1988/89 in League 2 the two sides played out a 24-24 draw at Old Deer Park, while in 1987/88 Welsh came out on top 29-10, again at Old Deer Park.

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones makes 11 changes for the visit of London Scottish, with hooker Vili Ma’asi, second row Adam Brown, flanker Mike Denbee and Seb Jewell the only players to retain their starting places from the side that beat Aberavon in the British & Irish Cup. Jewell, though, moves from outside centre to full back.

Gordon Ross takes over the captain’s armband from Gary Johnson, while Welsh give a start to on loan London Irish back row forward, and former Scarlet, Ed Siggery.

Welsh have had the upperhand in the sides’ recent meetings, enjoying a 44-9 win earlier this season at the Athletic Ground in the British & Irish Cup, as well as recording a pre-season victory over Scottish at the same venue in August 2010.


London Scottish


London Scottish go into Saturday's derby match with confidence and heart gained from their recent form, which has seen them gain seven points from their last four fixtures, especially in the way which they dealt with a stubborn and resolute Esher side.

London Welsh are in many ways a side Scottish can learn from as they have established themselves as one of the leading contenders for the Championship title.

The fixture represents the first league meeting between the two sides for over 10 years, and for the more senior supporters of Scottish the match on Saturday will bring back many memories of games gone past between these famous old rivals.

From the early seventies when both Scottish and Welsh were littered with internationalists and British & Irish Lions players and the matches were sometimes even considered to be international trial matches, through to the last time the teams played one another for league points in the 1989/90 season when Scottish came out on top 18 -14.

Injuries and recalls have disrupted Scottish’s preparations somewhat: recent dual-registration signings Elliot Daly and Guy Armitage have been called back into the Wasps and London Irish squads respectively, while full back Oli Grove is ruled out through injury. Argentine international wing Agustine Gosio moves to full back, and scrum-half Matt Heeks will hope to continue his try-scoring form as he shifts to the wing.


London Welsh:
15. Seb Jewell, 14. Will Hurrell, 13. Hudson Tonga’uiha, 12. Simon Whatling, 11. Joe Ajuwa
10. Gordon Ross, 9. Rob Lewis,
1. Shawn Pittman, 2. Vili Ma’asi, 3. Billy Moss, 4. Adam Brown, 5. Martin Purdy,
6. Ed Siggery, 7. Mike Denbee, 8. Lee Beach.

Replacements :
16. Nathan Morris, 17. Marc George, 18. Mike Powell, 19. Ed Jackson
20. Ben Stevenson, 21. Alex Davies, 22. Edd Thrower.

18. Sam Pailor, 19. Billy Johnson, 20. Darryl Veenendaal
21. Ian Vass, 22. David Vincent

London Scottish
15 Gosio 14 Heeks 13 O Holmes 12 O Brown 11 Howells
10 J Brown 9 Lalanne (c)
1 Liffchak 2 Kwasnicki 3 Thiede 4 Rudzki 5 Thomas
6 Andrews 7 Lonergan 8 Kellard

Clarke, Stanfield, MacKenzie, Josh Thomas Brown, Calder, Amor, Holgate.

Rotherham Titans v Doncaster 14:00

Rotherham Titans


Rotherham Titans: Ahead of the big South Yorkshire derby, Andre Bester has made five changes to his starting 15 as they prepare to entertain Doncaster Knights at Clifton Lane.

The two changes in the backline sees Dave McCall make his Championship debut after impressing in last week’s B&I Cup match in Swansea. McCall will start at outside centre in place of Stephen Hamilton, there’s a spot on the bench for the latter. Jimmy Williams returns to the side at scrum half for Matt Rhodes who is also expected to be on the bench.

In the engine room Ted Stagg and Ben Hooper come back in for Dan Baines and Rob O’Donnell at hooker and tight head prop respectively, whilst Adrian Griffiths replaces Barney Maddison at lock.

Saturday’s encounter promises to be a tight, uncompromising affair with both sides enjoying a successful season and a bigger than usual attendance is anticipated at Clifton Lane. The league head to head between the two sides sees the visitors with a healthy 11-3 advantage, although last season’s corresponding fixture saw Titans edge a 35-34 thriller.

Looking ahead to Doncaster’s visit, Head Coach Andre Bester is acutely aware of the threat that Titans near-neighbours will pose, Bester stated, “We anticipate a very tough match against Doncaster with immense physicality.

All of these derby matches that I’ve been involved in has always been very tough. We know it’s going to be a tough match up front, we know it’s going to be very physical at the breakdown.

“You only need to look at their squad to realise how experienced they are from 9 to 13 and they also have very experienced guys in the pack. We are aware that we have a tough assignment in front of us.

“We had a particular poor showing by our standards last time out against Pirates, although the score line did not reflect the match itself. But we now need to set the record straight and show what we are made of.

“We are not a form side; we want to be a side that can have consistency of performances. That is what Championship rugby is about, consistency of performance.

I’m not looking for million dollar performances, I’m just looking for solid performances from each and every individual within the team and then the result will look after itself.

“We do have a level of consistency, but within certain matches we have lacked that consistency on occasions.

“I always liken these South Yorkshire derby’s to tribal warfare. We all like to look at ourselves as part of the ‘Republic of Yorkshire’ and who’s going to have the upper hand over whom, and this is as intense a derby as you are likely to see anywhere in rugby.

“There are many people at both clubs which take this match as very personal. You can almost lose every other game, but you need to make sure you beat your rival on the other side of the hill.

“For our clubs supporters the Doncaster game is very important. They are the people that have been coming here for many years to this club and this is the one match that we will play for them .”


Doncaster Knights


Doncaster Knights’ Brett Davey has included five players who have previously pulled on the jersey of the Knights’ South Yorkshire enemy.

Captain Chris Hallam, player-coach Glen Kenworthy, Samoan centre PJ Gidlow, prop Stuart Corsar and vice-captain Matt Challinor are all ex-Titans stars and are likely to be fired up for the high-octane derby clash with their former club.

Rotherham sit just one place above the Knights in the Championship table and the game could be crucial in deciding the balance between the two halves of the league.

DOR Brett Davey is focused on eradicating recent results with a win over the Knights near neighbours:

“The intensity is increasing from here onwards – we want to put the record straight after a disappointing result against London Welsh. All the players understand what the derby game means to us, not just the ex-Rotherham lads.”

Davey has been impressed by Rotherham’s recent form and improvement from a slow start, and expects the challenging conditions at Clifton Lane to set the stage for a tight game.

“It’s always a hard place to play – the ground’s enclosed and the facilities are minimal. The Titans know how to use this reputation to their advantage, and they also have great support. Those fans are part of the Titans’ home form and make the ground a tough place to visit.”

The DOR has demanded big performances from his starting XV, and has picked out flanker Latu Makaafi, the stand-out Knight in the past month’s fixtures, as a key player expected to present Rotherham with a tough test.

“Makaafi has been playing really well lately, and this is another big game for him. Every player needs to step up to the cause.”


Rotherham Titans:
15 Tom Foden, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Pale Nonu
11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams
1 Shane Cahill, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Sam Dickinson (Capt.)
5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall, 8 Semisi Taulava.

Replacements From:
16 Dan Baines, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Rob O’Donnell, 19 Barney Maddison
20 Steve Hamilton, 21 Matt Rhodes, 22 Cliffie Hodgson
23 Carl Kirwan, 24 Byron Godfrey.

Doncaster Knights
15 David McIlwaine 14 Dougie Flockhart 13 Oli Goss 12 PJ Gidlow
11 Michael Keating 10 Tom Luke 9 Chris Hallam
1 Stuart Corsar 2 Steve Boden 3 Alex Brown 4 Matt Challinor
5 Glen Kenworthy 6 Latu Makaafi 7 Zack Farivarz 8 Andy Boyde

16 Tom Davies 17 Jack Yeandle 18 Dominic Parsons 19 Chris Planchant
20 Michael Noone 21 Lee Audis 22 Fred Burdon

Sunday 6 November 2011

Bristol v Cornish Pirates 15:00

Pirates TV



Bristol Rugby’s unbeaten league record at the Memorial Stadium will be put to the test by table-topping Cornish Pirates on Sunday .

Liam Middleton welcomes back top-scorer Jack Tovey to partner Junior Fatialofa in the midfield and Dan Montagu makes his first league start of the season at no.8.

The Head Coach reverts to a tried and trusted backline with Sean Marsden, Tom Slater and Tristan Roberts all returning to the fray. Matt Williams retains his place on the wing following last Sunday’s B&I Cup defeat to Neath.

Jason Hobson is named in the front row alongside Rhys Lawrence and Darren Crompton, while captain Iain Grieve switches to flanker with Marco Mama named among the replacements.

Hooker Jason Harris-Wright could make his first appearance for the Club from the bench after being included in the 22-man squad.


Cornish Pirates


The Pirates have not yet beaten 'Bris' away in a Championship match, so there'll be a deep desire among both the players and the coaching staff to start putting the records straight in a contest that deserves a label as 'game of the month'.

Skipper Gavin Cattle returns to the side having sat on the bench away to Munster in the British & Irish Cup, and his partner at fly-half will be a fit again Ceiron Thomas.

The selection is a strong one, and includes flanker Chris Morgan who led the team so well in Ireland.

Chris, who made his 100th appearance for the Pirates in their last successful Championship outing at home to Rotherham Titans, will also have incentive to help record a win at the Memorial Stadium, having played for Bristol in the past.

Also included on an impressive looking 'bench' is experienced prop Alan Paver, who'll be keen for a return to action following an injury suffered when playing in the Premiership on loan at Exeter Chiefs.


Bristol Rugby
Sean Marsden; George Watkins, Jack Tovey, Junior Fatialofa, Matt Williams
Tristan Roberts, Tom Slater; Darren Crompton, Rhys Lawrence, Jason Hobson
Mariano Sambucetti, Roy Winters, Iain Grieve (c), James Merriman, Dan Montagu.

Jason Harris-Wright, Mark Irish, Wayne Thompson, Marco Mama, Darren Barry
Louis Silver, Mark Davies.

Cornish Pirates:
R. Cook, G. Pointer, D. Locke, A. Suniula, D. Doherty
C. Thomas, G. Cattle (capt), K. Marriott, P. Burgess, C. Morgan
I. Nimmo, L. McGlone, C. Rimmer, D. Ward, R. Storer.

P. Andrew, R. Elloway, A. Paver, C. Walker-Blair, B. Cowan, T. Kessell, M. Evans.