RFU Championship News

Friday 4th

4th November 2011


RFU Championship News Friday 4th November 2011

RFU Championship News. Previews of all the Round 10 games. All the teams plus news and comment

Saturday 5 November 2011 Sunday 6 November 2011
Doncaster v London Welsh 14:30
London Scottish v Esher 15:00
Moseley v Bristol 15:00
Plymouth Albion v Bedford 15:00
Cornish Pirates v Rotherham 14:30
Leeds Carnegie v Nottingham 15:00

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RFU Preview

Last Saturday’s crushing 44-6 win over Bristol – Rotherham’s biggest margin of victory at home in the league since they beat Newbury 62-5 in November2008 – propelled the rapidly- improving Titans to second place in the Championship.

For the third time this season, they toppled the side that led the league, with Bristol joining Bedford and London Welsh as the Titans’ prized scalps.

However, victory at Cornish Pirates – just one place below them in the league - would arguably top the lot because Andre Bester’s men were humiliated (14-67) there in last season’s televised play- off encounter.

Doncaster v London Welsh is first up on Saturday’s four- game bill, where the Knights will seeking their first win in six games against the Exiles. The Yorkshire outfit did pick up a losing bonus point, though, in each of last season’s two defeats.

Bedford have a good record against Plymouth in recent times, winning all of the last four meetings. Indeed, Albion have not beaten the Blues at home in the league since December 2006.

Saturday’s remaining fixtures see Moseley play Bristol, a game which ended 13-13 last season, while London Scottish are at home to bottom- of- the- table Esher.

The final game of Round 10 comes at Headingley on Sunday afternoon where Leeds Carnegie will be looking to make it five Championship wins on the bounce with victory over Nottingham. Leeds have won all four games between the sides at this level as well as an EDF Energy Cup semi- final in 2009.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Doncaster v London Welsh 14:30

Steve Hossack writing in the Star says There promises to be plenty of explosive action at Castle Park when Doncaster Knights take on Championship rivals London Welsh.

Victory on Saturday over fourth-placed Welsh would go a long way towards Knights, who returned to winning ways at Esher at the weekend, realising their hopes before they take on local rivals Rotherham Titans in a fortnight’s time in their last league game in the first half of the campaign,

The quality of rugby in the Championship, second only in status in the UK to the Premiership, is getting better every year and Doncaster officials are keen to get that message across to as many of the town’s sports fans as possible.

Full Story www.thestar.co.uk

Doncaster Knights


Doncaster Knights begin a three-match defining period of their season tomorrow against fourth placed London Welsh at Castle Park. 

The Exiles have made an impressive start to the season, sitting in pole position before their last two games, but DOR Brett Davey believes the key to the Knights' chances is in their own hands.

 “They’re a very well-coached side, but we’re going to focus on ourselves - it’s looking like we’ll be facing damp conditions, but we’ve done well in poor weather already this season so we’re confident.”

 Doncaster go into the game on the back of a fine 29-20 victory over Esher last week, running in four tries as they showcased their attacking abilities. But the Welshman highlighted their defensive prowess as their essential strength. 

“We were good defensively, our work rate was good and we kept our discipline and composure. It’ll be a frantic game at times against Welsh, so we need all these things to be in place.”

 Davey has made his fewest team changes so far this season between two league matches – just two – and says he faced a tough task in picking his side with so much competition for places.

 “It was a very hard selection process this week and I spent a lot of time discussing in depth positions and players with my coaching staff. Some players are missing out but they will get their chance again because our whole squad is committed to their rugby.

 “We have given Michael Bateman his first place on a Championship bench – he’s been working hard in training and deserves his chance.

 “Our new signing, Fred Burdon, has also been impressive; he’s bedded in very well with the team and selection is getting closer for him.”

 Welsh drew against Cornish Pirates last week and will be looking to bounce back with a win, but Davey’s Knights are up for the challenge of denying them victory.


London Welsh


London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones makes three changes for the Exiles’ trip to Doncaster Knights on Saturday

Fresh from kicking three late penalties to give Welsh a 17-17 draw against the Cornish Pirates at Old Deer Park last Saturday, fly half Alex Davies will make his first Championship start for the Exiles since joining the club in the summer from Plymouth Albion.

There’s one other change in the backs with Joe Ajuwa coming in for Will Hurrell on the right wing. Ajuwa has scored two tries in his two Championship appearances for the Exiles so far this season, against Esher and Moseley, to go with another in the win over London Scottish in the British & Irish Cup.

The only change in the forwards comes in the front row, with Saul Nelson replacing the injured Dan George at hooker. It will be Nelson’s second Championship start of the season, having started in the 34-23 win over Nottingham at Old Deer Park on September 24.

On the bench, Welsh welcome back prop James Tideswell, following a lengthy spell out through injury, for his first appearance since the Nottingham game.

With Ross starting on the bench and club captain Jonathan Mills still sidelined, Lee Beach takes over the captain’s armband.

Castle Park has been a happy hunting ground for the Exiles in recent years, but they’ll be hoping they don’t run it quite as close as last season’s January 2 meeting when Stephen McColl’s penalty from the game’s last play came back off the crossbar, allowing Welsh to escape with a 21-19 victory.

It was the Exiles’ third consecutive win at Castle Park, after Welsh won twice at Doncaster in the 2009/10 season. They came out on top 17-10 in the regular season and then won 31-14 in round 6 of the play-offs to clinch a semi-final meeting with Bristol.


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 Chris Planchant

16 Tom Davies 17 Jack Yeandle 18 Dominic Parsons 19 Andy Boyde
20 Michael Noone 21 Lee Audis 22 Michael Bateman  

London Welsh:
15. Edd Thrower, 14. Joe Ajuwa, 13. Hudson Tonga’uiha*, 12. Simon Whatling, 11. James Lewis
10. Alex Davies, 9. Rob Lewis,
1. Shawn Pittman*, 2. Saul Nelson, 3. Billy Moss, 4. Adam Brown, 5. Martin Purdy
6. Lee Beach © , 7. Mike Denbee, 8. Ed Jackson.

16. Vili Ma’asi*, 17. James Tideswell, 18. Matt Corker, 19. Ben Russell
20. Ben Stevenson, 21. Gordon Ross*, 22. Seb Jewell.

London Scottish v Esher 15:00

London Scottish


London Scottish will be looking to bounce back from the narrow loss to Nottingham last weekend with a victory over local rivals Esher on Saturday at the Athletic Ground.

Head Coach Simon Amor was eager to extract a greater level of consistency from his squad:

“There were effectively two London Scottish teams that turned out at Nottingham last weekend: the team in the first half which was slightly off the pace in both attack and defence, and as a result we were punished by a very good Nottingham side.

After half-time, the true London Scottish turned up and we performed at a markedly higher standard - to the extent that we are disappointed not to have come away with a win.

We remain confident though that - if we keep working hard and sticking to the plans we have put in place - the wins will come and we’ll start to build some good momentum and recapture that winning mentality. This starts on Saturday against Esher.”

Dual-Registered centres Guy Armitage and Elliot Daly are both again included in the match day squad, and there is a return to the 22 for winger David Howells after a foot injury and lock Josh Thomas Brown.

Argentine International Agustin Gosio will be looking to make it three tries in three games following successes against Bedford and Nottingham




Esher travel to local rivals London Scottish for a huge Championship derby this Saturday. The Surrey side are looking to get their campaign up and running in what is sure to be a ferocious encounter at Richmond Athletic Ground.

League new boys London Scottish opened their account with a bang, turning over Rotherham first time out, and despite coming close on a number of other occasions, have since only added Moseley to their scalps.

However, Esher’s unprecedented injury crisis doesn’t seem to be easing up much with a number of members of the squad picking up knocks over the weekend with some having to sit out training in the hope of getting fit for Saturday’s crunch match

Chairman of Rugby, John Inverdale, still recovering from pneumonia following four weeks covering the World Cup in New Zealand, said,

“I’m looking forward to getting back out and watching the boys this weekend. After what was probably the dullest World Cup so far, it’s clear that the entertainment on offer in the Championship is several notches higher, but I would say that wouldn’t I?!

I just hope the doctor gives me the all-clear and we get a much-needed win so that I can enjoy my first pint in over a month, after the game!”

Although, these sides met only three weeks ago in the British & Irish Cup, a game that Esher ran away with 43-10, we expect a number of changes to both line-ups from that mid-week encounter

If Esher can put right the errors in last Saturday’s visit of Doncaster and rediscover the grit and spirit that was shown throughout October, perhaps this Saturday, Esher will finally break their duck and get their season back on track.


Mike Schmid pledged Esher will “keep fighting to get out of their increasingly desperate plight at the bottom of the RFU Championship.

Confident they could improve on last season – their first since promotion – when they had to battle through the relegation play-offs to secure another campaign – it has instead been a miserable start at Molesey Road with nine straight defeats and no points.

A horrendous toll of injuries has made life almost impossible for Schmid, who takes his men to London Scottish tomorrow.

Full Story www.getsurrey.co.uk

London Scottish
15 Oli Grove 14 Agustin Gosio 13 Elliot Daly 12 Ollie Brown 11 Stephen Hihetah
10 James Brown 9 Alfredo Lallane
1 Aaron Liffchak 2 Adam Kwasnicki 3 Lewis Thiede 4 Steve Pape 5 Josh Thomas Brown
6 Anthony Andrews 7 Lewis Calder (c) 8 James Kellard

16 Alex Clarke 17 Tom Standfield 18 Ben Thomas 19 Matt Heeks
20 Dan Mugford 21 Guy Armitage 22 David Howells

15 Rob Kirby 14 Charlie Walker 13 Phil Mackenzie 12 Andy Wright 11 Sam Edgerley
10 Mark Atkinson 9 Clive Stuart-Smith
1 Robin Boot 2 Stuart Mackie 3 Cameron Zeiss 4 Ian Kench 5 Charlie Matthews
6 Peter Synnott 7 Sam Stitcher 8 Chris Goodman

16 Ollie Mines 17 Perry Parker 18 Mike Macfarlane 19 Kevin Corrigan
20 Richard Mill 21 Tom Loizides 22 Jamie Mackenzie

Moseley v Bristol 15:00



Following Moseley’s second one-point away defeat, at Plymouth last Friday, coaches Kevin Maggs and Craig West have kept faith with the bulk of the team, who will now face Championship leaders, Bristol Rugby.

For the south-west team’s visit the Moseley pack is unchanged, but in the backs Brad Hunt, who has been injured for the whole of October, steps back into the right wing berth ahead of Ollie Thomas.

Centre, Andy Reay, who captains the side again tomorrow said that the players had been bitterly disappointed to lose at Plymouth after leading for most of the match. “Although Bristol will be a big test,” he said, “we will be hoping to maintain our recent improvements in performance and give our supporters something to cheer”.




Bristol travel to Moseley on Saturday in search of their first ever RFU Championship win at Billesley Common

Liam Middleton will be expecting a reaction from the players after last weekend’s disappointing defeat at Clifton Lane.

The Head Coach makes four changes in the forwards, with Mark Irish, Wayne Thompson, Roy Winters and Marco Mama earning starts.

Tristan Roberts and Fautua Otto miss out after failing late fitness tests, so Matty James continues at fly-half in an unchanged backline

In the front row, Wayne Thompson makes his third league start of the season alongside Mark Irish and Ross Johnston. James Merriman recovers from a toe injury to retain his place in the back row, while Marco Mama is preferred to Josh Ovens.

The replacements bench sees a four forwards and three backs split, with Matt Williams returning to the 22-man squad after a three-week absence.


1. Tom Warren; 2.Adam Caves; 3. Craig Voisey; 4.David Lyons; 5.Dan Sanderson
6.Neil Mason; 7.Michael Ellery; 8.Chevvy Pennycook;
9. Ryan Glynn; 10. Bradley Davies; 11. William Robinson; 12.Andy Reay
13. Greg King; 14.Brad Hunt; 15. Anthony Carter

16. Anthony O’donnell;17. Charley Thomas; 18. Richard Stott;
19. Marshall Gadd; 20. Michael Maltman; 21. Sam Brown; 22 Oliver Thomas.

Bristol Rugby
Sean Marsden; George Watkins, Jack Tovey, Junior Fatialofa, Jon Goodridge
Matty James, Tom Slater; Mark Irish, Ross Johnston, Wayne Thompson
Mariano Sambucetti, Roy Winters, Marco Mama, James Merriman, Iain Grieve (c).

Rhys Lawrence, Darren Crompton, Darren Barry, Josh Ovens, Louis Silver
Mark Davies, Matt Williams.

Plymouth Albion v Bedford 15:00


Plymouth Albion


Plymouth Albion will be looking to continue their impressive home record this season when they entertain Bedford Blues in the Championship at Brickfields Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

Graham Dawe's side have won four out of five of their games at Brickfields, with their only defeat being a narrow 20-16 loss at the hands of the Cornish Pirates. However, Bedford have an equally impressive away record.

"It is no secret that we would like to win this game," said chairman of rugby Dawe.

"But we know Bedford will bring an all-court game and they will be looking for a response to their defeat by Leeds last week.

"So I think it should be a pretty exciting match."

Albion, still without the injured Sean-Michael Stephen, Henry Slade and Cameron Mitchell, make one change to their starting line-up that beat Moseley last week, with Tyson Lewis coming in for Steve Johns on the wing.

However, Albion could be boosted by the return of utility back Mark Lee to the squad. Lee, who can play fly-half, full-back, centre or wing, has missed the last month with a knee injury, but he could be on the bench tomorrow if he proves his fitness.




Following a humbling home defeat to former Premiership side Leeds last weekend, Bedford Blues go west in the hope of reigniting their Championship campaign as they face Plymouth Albion at Brickfields.

Games between Albion and the Blues are always tough and only three points separated the two teams in the same fixture last season which finished 24-27. Plymouth have an impressive home record this season having won four out of five while Bedford are a force to be reckoned with on the road with five wins out of six in all competitions

Bedford travel to Plymouth with a number of long term injuries including Gregor Gillanders (ACL), Ben Lewitt (ACL), Henry Staff (broken jaw), Jon Fisher (fractured foot), Neil Cochrane (calf strain) and Ricky Reeves (nerve damage), whilst captain James Pritchard also misses out after picking up a knock last weekend.

Speaking ahead of the game Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer, said: “We’ve had to take a long, hard look at ourselves following the performance last weekend and address some of the key issues that led to Leeds coming back into that game and winning it so convincingly.

“No one is in any doubt about the expectations that we have, but as I’ve said numerous times before, the great thing about rugby is that you have the chance to put things right the following week

“The lads now have to learn from the mistakes last week and not repeat them because if we do that against Plymouth, we will be punished again. Albion have a powerful squad who will come out all guns blazing, and we also know that they can dig deep to grind out results.

“We will have to be at the top of our game if we want to pick up an all-important and morale boosting win.”

Rayer makes a handful of changes to the team that started against Leeds last week with Brendan Burke replacing the injured Pritchard at fullback, Handre Schmidt coming in for David Vincent and Stefan Liebenberg getting the nod at nine ahead of Darryl Veenendaal.

Nico Steenkamp and Phil Boulton prop the scrum instead of Sam Walsh and Dan Seal while Sean Tomes returns to the second row and Paul Tupai starts at number eight while Ian Vass is named as a replacement for the first time this season.


15 J Love, 14 T Lewis, 13 B Armitage, 12 K Fisilau, 11 M McGrath
10 P Bailey, 9 R Cushion (capt)
1 R Dugard, 2 G Evans, 3 R Hopkins, 4 D Collier, 5 T Hotson
6 S Hocking, 7 W Sprangle, 8 A Carpenter.

D Farnham, S Johns, M Lee, D Morton, D McGregor, J Tyas
H Stupple, A Lockley, J Nowell.

Bedford Blues
15. Brendan Burke 14. Handre Schmidt 13. Ollie Dodge 12. Tom Bedford 11. Josh Bassett
10. Jake Sharp 9. Stefan Liebenberg
1.Nico Steenkamp 2. Chris Locke 3. Phil Boulton 4. Mike Howard 5. Sean Tomes
6. Alex Rae (c) 7. Sacha Harding 8. Paul Tupai

16. Harry Allen, 17. Dan Seal, 18. Sam Pailor, 19. Billy Johnson, 20. Darryl Veenendaal
21. Ian Vass, 22. David Vincent

Sunday 6 November 2011

Cornish Pirates v Rotherham Titans 14:30

Pirates TV

Cornish Pirates


Sunday afternoon's game at the Mennaye Field, Penzance could be one of the games of the season.

It's third against second, the visiting Titans arriving in Cornwall on the back of an incredible 44-6 points win against league leaders Bristol last weekend, which must have been quite a shock for the strong 'Bris' side.

As for the Pirates, they know what lies ahead and will be looking to thwart the Titans challenge for what is expected to be a thrilling 'must see' encounter.

The Pirates back-line is the same one that started and finished last weekend's away game away to London Welsh, but there are a number of changes in the forwards.

Flankers Phil Burgess and Blair Cowan are replaced by Chris Morgan and Dave Ewers, and Laurie McGlone continues alongside Ian Nimmo in the second-row, having replaced an injured Mike Myerscough at Old Deer Park.

In the front-row Carl Rimmer switches from loose to tight-head prop, with Rudi Brits making way, and Ryan Storer is handed the number '1' jersey.

The final change from last week's starting line-up sees Dave Ward return at hooker in place of Rob Elloway.


Cornish Pirates high performance manager Chris Stirling admits Rotherham will provide his side with a huge test at Mennaye Field on Sunday.

"They are on a real roll, on top of their game and full of confidence," said Stirling. "I have to say, the games I've watched, they've played really well.

"It's going to be a big test. I saw their match against Bristol and they definitely played to their strengths.

Full Story by Bill Sobey www.thisiscornwall.co.uk

Rotherham Titans


Rotherham Titans Head Coach Andre Bester has made just two changes for what he describes as the “toughest match in the league!” And few would argue that Cornish Pirates away is just that.

The two changes are in the pack; Shane Cahill comes in at loose head prop for Jamie Kilbane and Barney Maddison replaces Adrian Griffiths in the second row. Griffiths has trained little this week due to a minor injury.

On the back of last week’s 44-6 victory over league leaders Bristol, 2nd placed Rotherham are full of confidence and could take top spot with a win in Cornwall on Sunday.

However Andre Bester is under no illusions as to the difficulty of the challenge ahead, Bester acknowledged, “There is no doubt that the toughest match in this league is to play Cornish Pirates away! A lot of people would say it is Rotherham at Clifton Lane, but for me Pirates is the toughest assignment in the Championship.

“Pirates were my pre-season favourites for the league and they are now getting their players back. Their stand-out player is Gavin Cattle, for me he is the stand-out player in the Championship and as a player and a captain I have immense respect for him. He personifies the fighting spirit of Pirates and I’m astounded that he his not playing in the Premiership.

“Pirates have match-winners all over the pitch; they have players with the x-factor. They are very strong all over the park, whether it’s their pack, their scrum, their line-out, their driving play, their back play or their ability to create something out of nothing. Pirates are a very good and very dangerous side, but despite all the admiration I have for them, that admiration will stop on Sunday at half past two. Our job is to make sure they don’t perform on our watch!

“We’ve stepped-up our preparation once again this week, every time we have a good win I make it a little more impossible for the players to survive the week and make it a little bit harder both mentally and physically.

“We are going down there to win this match, that’s what our job is. We are a professional outfit now, we have organised ourselves well, we’ve prepared well, we’ve done our homework and we know what we have to go and do. And that is win the match!”


Guy Williams writing in the Star says

Rotherham’s excellent run of form, unbeaten in six games, faces its severest test on Sunday when the Titans take on the toughest of challenges at Cornish Pirates.

In recent seasons, Rotherham have struggled to cope with the hostile atmosphere in Penzance, but with such a competitive squad this campaign, there should be no repeat of the humiliating 67-14 defeat they suffered on their last visit in March.

Pirates, third in the Championship and two points behind Rotherham, possess several players who have the potential to destroy any side.

Full Story www.thestar.co.uk

Cornish Pirates:
R. Cook, G. Pointer, D. Locke, A. Suniula, D. Doherty
J. Bentley, G. Cattle (capt), B. Maidment, C. Morgan, D. Ewers
I. Nimmo, L. McGlone, C. Rimmer, D. Ward, R. Storer.

L. Fairbrother, R. Elloway, P. Burgess, B. Cowan, T. Kessell, S. Hill, C. Thomas.

Rotherham Titans:
T. Foden, E. Tellwright, S. Hamilton, P. Nonu, S. Monahan
G. Law, J. Williams, S. Taulava, S. Dougall, R. Copeland
B. Maddison, S. Dickinson (capt), R. O'Donnell, D. Baines, S. Cahill.

T. Stagg, J. Kilbane, R. Stout, A. Griffiths, C. Kirwan, M. Rhodes, C. Hodgson.

Leeds Carnegie v Nottingham 15:00

Leeds Carnegie


Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards has made four changes to his side to face Nottingham this Sunday in the Championship at Headingley Carnegie.

Winger Stevie McColl is ruled out by a shoulder injury so Lee Blackett comes in on the wing whilst USA international Robbie Shaw starts this week at scrum half with Craig Hampson amongst the replacements.

In the forwards Phil Swainston is preferred at tight head prop with David Young moving to the bench and Richard Beck comes in for Dominic Barrow in the back row.

On the bench, Pete Lucock returns from injury whilst Alex Rieder comes in for Barrow.




Nottingham Rugby are set to face their toughest challenge yet this weekend when they travel to Leeds in a bid to further their Championship campaign.

The team have enjoyed two wins out of two in their most recent fixtures and will be hoping to go three in succession when they face former team mates Jacob Rowan and Dan Hemingway at Headingley’s Carnegie Stadium.

The Green and Whites are currently sitting seventh in the table, just one point ahead of this weekend’s rivals and a good winning streak is just what they need to challenge the top, following their close 33-31 win against London Scottish last weekend.

Leeds always prove a difficult contest for Nottingham when they meet and as recent Premiership relegates, they will be wanting to challenge for a promotion position this season.

Following last week’s performance, Nottingham’s Director of Rugby, Glenn Delaney, said:“Leeds have always given us a run for our money in the past and this weekend’s game is certainly going to be a challenge, but it’s one that we’re ready for and the boys are more than up to the task.

“Last weekend’s win against London Scottish has left the team feeling highly motivated, but I’m expecting to see some improvements on Sunday. We played a good first half, but we need to work on maintaining a good game and keeping hold of the ball when we’re feeling pressured in order to beat Leeds”.


Leeds Carnegie 
15. Tommy Bell 14. Michael Stephenson 13. Iain Thornley 12. Joe Barker 11. Lee Blackett
10. Joe Ford 9. Robbie Shaw
1. Gareth Denman 2. Phil Nilsen 3. Phil Swainston 4. Tom Denton 5. Sean Hohneck
6. Richard Beck 7. Chris Walker 8. Jacob Rowan (c)

16. Scott Freer 17. Sam Lockwood 18. David Young 19. Dan Hemingway
20. Alex Rieder 21. Craig Hampson 22. Pete Lucock

Nottingham Rugby 
Michael Holford, Raphael Olive, Ben Prescott, Craig Hammond (c), Nic Rouse
Sione Kalimafoni, Jonny Baird, Phil Eggleshaw
Nathan Jones, James Arlidge, Charlie Hayter, Juan Pablo Socino, Ayoola Erinle
Mike Penn, Kieran Hallett

Joseph Duffey, Matt Shields, Alex Shaw, Lee Morley
Finlay Barnham, Joe Cobden, Andy Savage