RFU Championship News

Dec 21st

RFU Championship News December 21st 2012


RFU Championship News Friday December 21st 2012

Round 12 Teams & Previews
Plus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.

Saturday 22 December 2012
Jersey v Leeds Carnegie 15:00 - BBC Radio Jersey

Sunday 23 December 2012
Bristol v Doncaster 15:00 - BBC Radio Bristol
Newcastle v London Scottish 15:00 - BBC Newcastle - SKY Sports
Nottingham v Moseley 15:00

Wednesday 26 December 2012
Bedford v Rotherham Titans 15:00
Plymouth Albion v Cornish Pirates 15:00 - BBC Radio Cornwall



RFU Round 12 Preview

RFU Championship Stats

Jersey v Leeds Carnegie - Saturday 22nd 15:00

Jersey RugbyLeeds Carnegie Jersey v Leeds Carnegie 
Saturday 22 December
St Peter
Kick Off 3pm

BBC Radio Jersey



UPDATE Saturday 22nd December 12:18
Referee Ross Campbell has inspected the pitch at St Peter and ruled it PLAYABLE

Jersey will field a strong side as they bid to end 2012 on a winning note against Leeds Carnegie.

Ben Harvey has bolstered the squad in key areas for the return to league action following back-to-back British & Irish Cup games against Leinster ‘A’.

Flanker Fred Silcock is missing after sustaining a knee injury at Donnybrook in Dublin last Sunday, but otherwise the injury news is positive for Jersey, with several players returning to action.

At half-back, Nicky Griffiths will partner Mike Le Bourgeois, while in the centres Dai Bishop is selected alongside 18-year-old loan signing from Worcester, Max Stelling, who will make his third appearance in Island colours.

On a pitch that is likely to be heavy following further wet weather, Jersey’s forwards are likely to have a major role to play. Jon Brennan is back at tight-head, Dave Markham gets the nod at lock ahead of Rob Anderson, and a reshuffled back-row sees Guy Thompson back at number 8 while Graham Bell switches to the flank.

‘We feel that this is as robust a side as we are able to put out – these are the boys in form,’ Harvey said.

Director of Rugby Harvey has opted for a 5:2 split of forwards and backs on the Jersey bench, with perhaps the hardest decision being the exclusion of experienced scum-half Dave McCormack in favour of Brendan O’Brien.

Harvey will be looking for a repeat of the result when Jersey played Leeds at York RUFC in a B&I game in October. Jersey were 33-27 victors that day, having started the season with a 32-19 league defeat to Carnegie at Headingley in September.

Jersey lie bottom of the RFU Championship as the second half of the season begins, but know they will go up two places with a win, as rival clubs are not in action until Sunday.

1 Sean McCarthy 2 Dave Felton 3 Jon Brennan 4 Nathan Hannay (capt)
5 Dave Markham 6 Graham Bell 7 Kingsley Lang 8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths 10 Mike Le Bourgeois 11 Ed Dawson
12 Dai Bishop 13 Max Stelling 14 Ashley Maggs 15 Glenn Bryce

16 Richard Barrington 17 Charlie Clare 18 James Gethings 19 Rob Anderson
20 Eoghan Nihill 21 Brendan O’Brien 22 Donovan Sanders

Leeds Carnegie

Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards has rewarded 20-year-old back Christian Georgiou and 19-year-old forward Dominic Barrow for impressive performances in the B&I Cup with a spot in the team to face Jersey this Saturday in the Championship.

The game will be the first time that Leeds have played in Jersey but they have already faced the Channel Islanders twice this season. Leeds won a hard fought battle at Headingley Carnegie in round two of this year’s Championship before losing to Jersey in the B&I Cup game at York.

Georgiou, who played at full back and fly half in the two games against Pontypridd, will start at centre in place of the injured Josh Griffin, whilst long term injuries to Richard Beck, Dan Hemingway and Mike Myerscough give Barrow the chance to impress in the second row.

Hooker Phil Nilsen will become only the 16th player in the club’s history to make 100 appearances in all competitions whilst David Doherty will return to the club he played for two seasons ago.

Leeds Carnegie
15. Stevie McColl 14. Oli Goss 13. Christian Georgiou 12. Fred Burdon
11. David Doherty 10. Joe Ford 9. James Doherty
1. Sam Lockwood 2. Phil Nilsen 3. Damien Tussac 4. Calum Green
5. Dominic Barrow 6. Rob Baldwin 7. Jacob Rowan (c) 8. Ryan Burrows

16. Joe Graham 17. Lee Imiolek 18. Ben Hooper 19. Matt Smith
20. Chris Walker 21. Craig Hampson 22. Matt Clark

What The Papers Say

Yorkshire Evening Post - Leeds Carnegie: Jersey won’t be gift wrapped for Christmas

Championship points would be Leeds Carnegie’s ideal Christmas present, but chief Diccon Edwards reckons they’ll have to battle hard to get them.

Carnegie complete their 2012 schedule away to bottom club Jersey tomorrow, but according to Edwards the task is much tougher than it might look on paper.

“I am really impressed with them and surprised at their league position,” Edwards said of tomorrow’s hosts.

“When you analyse their performances, they have got some real threats. I’ve been impressed with how quickly they’ve adapted to the Championship and we will have to perform at our best to make sure we get a winning performance.”

Full Story www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk

Other News.

DAI Bishop of Jersey RFC appeared before an RFU Disciplinary Panel on Wednesday evening, charged with striking, contrary to Law 10.4(a), in the RFU Championship fixture Doncaster Knights v Jersey RFC on November 30.

The citing was dismissed. Bishop is free to play again immediately.

The Panel comprised HHJ Blackett (chair), Elizabeth Riley and Dr Julian Morris.

Leeds hooker Nilsen’s 100th Club Appearance

Leeds Carnegie hooker Phil Nilsen will become only the 16th player in the club's history to play 100 games in all competitions this Saturday when they travel to Jersey.

Nilsen, who made his debut against London Welsh in September 2006, will make his 47th start in those 100 games on Saturday. Looking ahead to the game,

 Nilsen said, "It is a big one for me and I am really looking forward to it. I have known for a few weeks that I was getting close to the 100th game and then my dad phoned me to remind me earlier in the week that it would be this Saturday.

There have been plenty of highs and lows along the way but it has been a great journey. The current team is a great group to be part of and, in a lot of ways, is very similar to the group I was part of when I made my debut .

Bristol v Doncaster - Sunday 23rd 15:00

Bristol RugbyDoncaster KnightsBristol v Doncaster
Sunday 23rd December
The Memorial Ground
Kick Off 3pm


David McIlwaine makes his first RFU Championship start since early October as Bristol take on Doncaster at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday

The former Knight is one of nine changes to the side that saw off Bridgend 41-3 last weekend.

Jack Tovey returns to the backline in place of Jon Goodridge, while Ruki Tipuna takes over the captaincy in the enforced absence of Iain Grieve.

In the pack, Ross Johnston, Mariano Sambucetti and Glen Townson are named, while Wayne Thompson makes his first start since the opening day of the campaign.

Alafoti Faosiliva switches to blindside flanker in a new-look back row that includes Mitch Eadie and Redford Pennycook.

Head Coach Liam Middleton reverts to a four forwards and two backs split on the bench, with Fautua Otto returning from long-term injury to be named in the 22-man squad.

Bristol Rugby
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Luke Eves, Jack Gadd, David McIlwaine
Adrian Jarvis, Ruki Tipuna (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Wayne Thompson
Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Alafoti Faosiliva, Redford Pennycook, Mitch Eadie.

Rhys Lawrence, Bruce Douglas, Ben Glynn, Marco Mama
James Grindal, Tristan Roberts, Fautua Otto.

Doncaster Knights

The Knights make a welcome return to Championship action against Bristol in another meteoric fixture for Clive Griffiths’ me

Following back to back fixtures with Llandovery in the British and Irish Cup, Griffiths has named a slightly altered side in which fresh faced signing Will Hafu takes his place on the bench, whilst the in form Leicester Tigers double of Keiran Brookes and Andy Symons remain with the Knights setup.  

The backline sees the return of Jamie Lennard to outside-half with Connor Braid switching back to full-back. Will Simpson retains his place in the centres following his return from suspension last week and partners Tigers dual registration powerhouse Symons in midfield as both swap shirt numbers. 

Up front a personnel change in the back row means that captain Matt Challinor returns to the more familiar second row with Jethro Rawling starting at openside flanker. Brookes makes his third appearance for the Knights as the other loanee and accompanies Rhys Buckley and Tom Davies in the front row. 

The very strong replacements bench includes the exciting proposition of new signing Hafu along with four other forward substitutes as Griffiths elects for a five-two split.

Doncaster Knights
15) Connor Braid 14) Dante Mama 13) Andy Symons 12) Will Simpson
11) Tyson Lewis 10) Jamie Lennard 9) Chris Hallam
1) Tom Davies 2) Rhys Buckley 3) Keiron Brookes 4) Matt Challinor ©
5) Dom Parsons 6) Adam Kettle 7) Jethro Rawling 8) Chris Planchant 

16) Will Hafu, 17) Tomas Francis, 18) Brian McGovern, 19) Phil Hoy
20) Sam Pailor, 21) Louis Silver 22) Dougie Flockhart

What The Papers Say

The Bristol Post  - Middleton Targeting Two Wins Over Festive Period

Five wins in a row, three of which came in the Championship, have put Bristol's season back on the rails after a shaky start.

Bristol can return to the all-important top four if results go their way this weekend – and head coach Middleton is not thinking about anything other than back-to-back victories in the next 11 days.

"Wins against Doncaster and Cornish Pirates would change our fortunes significantly – two losses and it has the opposite effect," said Middleton. "I'm not contemplating any losses in the next fortnight, but we've got two pretty tough games.

Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk

Steve Hossack, The Star -  Doncaster Knights look to finish on a high

Knights boss Clive Griffiths wants to end what has been a disappointing year on a winning note in Sunday’s Championship clash at Bristol.

The Welshman had hoped the Knights had started to turn the corner after successive defeats but he has had to have a re-think this week after last weekend’s British & Irish Cup Pool 8 defeat a home to Llandovery.

“I probably need a couple more games before I’m certain in my own mind what my best starting fifteen is and what better games for people to hold their hands up than games against Bristol and leaders Newcastle on New Year’s Day.

“Bristol is always a tough place to go. They are well supported and the crowd really get behind the team and we’ll have to be on the ball with our discipline. They probably aren’t as strong as they were last season when they finished top of the league only to lose out in the play-offs, but they are still a decent team as we are on our day.”

Full Story www.thestar.co.uk

Other News

Bristol’s Hobson To Appeal & Is Free To Play Play Until A Decision Has Been Announced

Bristol’s Jason Hobson has appealled against a twelve-week ban issued by an RFU Disciplinary Panel earlier this month.

The prop was charged with biting centre Plymouth Albion Bevon Armitage on the arm during the RFU Championship clash on Saturday, 24 November - an act contrary to good sportsmanship, contrary to Law 10.4(m). Hobson pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Now that an appeal has been lodged, Hobson is free to play until a decision has been announced.

The Bristol Post

LIAM Middleton says Iain Grieve's injury is a blow for Bristol – but the head coach is confident his squad can cope without their skipper.

Grieve is expected to be out of action for three months after suffering a torn bicep in last weekend's 41-3 British & Irish Cup win over Bridgend.

"It looks as if it will be a 12-week injury, so he's still going to play a big part in our season.” said Middleton. “ We're obviously disappointed, because he's our captain and he's been in very, very good form for us. But it's now an opportunity for someone else in our back row, which is a very competitive area of our team."

Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk

Brett Davey is leaving Doncaster Knights after three and a half years with the Club.

Announcing Brett’s departure, DRFC President and Chairman Tony De Mulder thanked Brett for his contribution and wished him well in his next appointment.

Brett Davey wished Doncaster Knights and the Club every success in the future and thanked everyone at Castle Park, the professional players he has coached and support staff who worked with him for their support.

Newcastle v London Scottish - Sunday 23rd 15:00

Newcastle FalconsLondon ScottishNewcastle v London Scottish
Sunday 23rd December
Kingston Park
Kick Off 3pm

BBC Radio Newcastle - SKY Sports



Newcastle Falcons have made four changes for Sunday’s visit of London Scottish

Mark Wilson replaces Ally Hogg in the back-row with the latter side-lined with an injury picked up in last week’s 93-0 British and Irish Cup victory over Newport, while Carlo del Fava returns to the engine room after recovering from a hand injury.

Tongan international Suka Hufanga partners Jamie Helleur at the heart of the Falcons backline, and Alex Tait comes in for Jimmy Gopperth at full-back. Gopperth is denied his 100th appearance with an ankle injury.  

Victory over the Londoners will make it 12 wins out of 12 in the league and 16 out of 16 in all competitions as the feel good factor for rugby in the North East continues to blossom.

Director of rugby Dean Richards is expecting a tough examination from a Scottish outfit, who picked up a try bonus-point against the Falcons in Richmond earlier this season.

“They’re a quality side and they play some lovely rugby,” said Richards.

He added: “They have a talented fly-half and I think it will be a difficult challenge for us. That said, we are in good shape and we are very much looking forward to the game on Sunday.”

One player who has impressed the Falcons boss with a string of solid outings is local talent Joel Hodgson. Newcastle-born Hodgson, 20, has progressed through the club’s academy system and is now delighted to be playing regular first team rugby.

Hodgson said: “We’ve singled out a few boys who we see as their main threat and if we keep those individuals quiet, in effect we’ll be keeping London Scottish quiet.

“In terms of our attacking game, we will just stick to what we’ve been doing throughout the season. Hopefully the fans can see us play an expansive, exciting style of rugby.”

Fans favourite Rob Vickers believes his side need to be better than when they last met Scottish earlier in the season.

The northeasterners narrowly defeated the Londoners 49-32 on a baking hot day in Richmond back in September.

Vickers said: “When we played them at the start of the season they scored 32 points against us which is more than any other team we’ve played.

“We’ve got to really lick our wounds from that, and we certainly don’t want to concede 32 points this week.”

Newcastle Falcons:
15 Alex Tait, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Suka Hufanga, 12 Jamie Helleur
11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson
1 Grant Shiells, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava
5 James Hudson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Richard Mayhew, 8 Taiasina Tu’ifua

16 Matt Thompson, 17 Scott Wilson, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Chris York
20 Warren Fury, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 Alex Crockett

London Scottish

London Scottish travel to Newcastle Falcons having made two changes to the starting XV from their last Championship fixture against Bristol in November.

Dave McCall comes in for Gerard Mullen on the left wing, whilst Tyler Hotson is back in the second row having spent much of November on international duty with Canada.

Mark Irish, Adam Kwasnicki, Paul Spivey, Ross Samson, Phil Godman, Jim Thompson all return to the matchday squad having missed the B&I Cup visit to Llanelli last weekend.

London Scottish
15. Jim Thompson 14. James Love 13. Oli Grove 12. Andy Reay
11. Dave McCall 10. Phil Godman 9. Ross Samson
1. Mark Irish 2. Adam Kwasnicki 3. Colin Quigley 4. Paul Spivey
5. Tyler Hotson 6. Ben Russell 7. Chevvy Pennycook 8. Mark Bright (c)

16. Billy Moss 17. Harry Allen 18. Alex Mackenzie 19. Josh Thomas Brown
20. Lewis Calder 21. Jamie Stevenson 22. PJ Gidlow

What The Papers Say

Mark Smith, The Journal  - Mungo Strachan tipping Newcastle Falcons for victory

A man with inside knowledge of both camps expects Newcastle Falcons to have too way much up front when they host London Scottish on Sunday.

Hooker Mungo Strachan trained with the Falcons last season and represented them in A-League action, but was in the London Scottish squad which took a four-try bonus point against the Championship leaders in September.

Strachan, who played for Blaydon and Newcastle University during his studies on Tyneside, said: “The Falcons were always going to be the strongest side in the league and dominating the top of the table.

“They are really well drilled and with Jimmy Gopperth on board you know they are going to kick their goals from anywhere.

“Nobody is afraid to try anything and it is good to watch them playing that kind of rugby.”

Full Story www.journallive.co.uk

Other News This Week

Newcastle Falcons prop James Hall appeared before an RFU disciplinary panel on Tuesday 18 December 2012 at the Durham Radisson Blu Hotel.

Hall, who was cited for punching an opponent during last month’s RFU Championship match against Plymouth Albion, was suspended for four weeks after being found guilty of striking an opponent contrary to Law 10.4(a).

Hall had already been suspended for two weeks following an internal disciplinary hearing on 4 December 2012 and is therefore free to play again on 1 January 2013.

Hot prospect Zach Kibirige has signed a professional contract with Newcastle Falcons

Scoring a try in each of his first two appearances for the Falcons first team this term, the speedy winger, 18, is enthusiastic about his future on Tyneside.

“I’m really pleased to have committed my future to the Falcons, a club that’s very much on the up at the moment,” said the Middlesbrough-born teenager.

“The last few months have been incredible, and I’m grateful that Dean Richards has given me a chance to show what I can do on the pitch,” added Kibirige, who crossed the whitewash on his debut against Cross Keys in the British and Irish Cup back in October.

Joining the Falcons Academy aged 12 after being spotted by now academy manager Mark Laycock, the Teesider is currently away with the England under-18 training squad.

Laycock said: “Zach has done tremendously well throughout the academy process, and he’s stuck with the programme.

“He’s a shining light for the rest of the academy squad to look up to and he’s done really well.

Nottingham v Moseley - Sunday 23rd 15:00

NottinghamMoseleyNottingham v Moseley 
Sunday 23rd December 
Meadow Lane
Kick Off 12:45pm


MARTIN Haag has challenged his players to finish 2012 with a bang against Midlands rivals Moseley by producing the sort of form that put Doncaster to the sword last month.

While Nottingham have breathed new life into their British and Irish Cup campaign with back-to-back bonus point wins over Melrose, it is the fashion in which the Green and Whites accounted for the Knights that Haag wants to see replicated at Meadow Lane on Sunday.

"We had two good wins against Melrose but we want to go out against Moseley in the same vein as we finished the game against Doncaster, which is the standard we set ourselves," Haag said.

"There is a change of focus coming from the B & I Cup and we want to return to our Championship form."

Getting into the festive spirit of things for a match labelled the Family Christmas, Haag is exhausting every avenue to get what he wants by popping a note to Santa Claus.

"This is the last game before Christmas, so five points would be a great present for us," Haag said.

As a side that has averaged more than 54 points from its past five wins at home, confidence is at an all-time high at Meadow Lane.

"Winning is a good habit and breeds a good atmosphere," Haag said.

"Self belief is a very important thing and we are playing with it at the moment.

"The amount of points that we have been scoring doesn't surprise me because there is a good mixture coming from both backs and forward and coming from a lot of different areas."

Centre Tim Streather's inclusion in the midfield is one of seven changes made to the side that beat Melrose 32-20 at The Greenyards last week.

Joe Munro slots in alongside Streather and Rhys Crane is named on the wing after being a late withdrawal against the Scottish outfit after straining his calf in the pre-game warm-up.

The half-back combination of former young New Zealand representative Sean Romans and Japan international James Arlidge is reunited after two weeks of mixing and matching during the Cup campaign.

In the pack, Michael Holford comes in ahead of Ryan Bower at tighthead and flanker Rupert Cooper reclaims his place at blindside with Tom Calladine moved to the bench.

Hooker Shaun Malton makes his first Championship start since joining the East Midlands club last month, having performed strongly in the front row in both home and away Cup ties against Melrose.

Nottingham Rugby
15 David Jackson 14 Alex Lewington 13 Tim Streather 12 Joe Munro
11 Rhys Crane 10 James Arlidge 9 Sean Romans
1 Matt Parr 2 Shaun Malton 3 Michael Holford 4 Dan Montagu
5 Nic Rouse 6 Rupert Cooper 7 Brent Wilson (c) 8 Alex Shaw.

16 Jimmy Stevens 17 Ryan Bower 18 Joe Quinn 19 Tom Calladine
20 Finlay Barnham 21 Joe Cobden 22 Andy Forsyth


Moseley begin the second half of their Championship fixtures with a tough away match against high-flying Nottingham, one of their oldest adversaries. These two sides played each other at Billesley Common in September with Nottingham taking the honours in a keenly fought contest.

Last week Moseley came back strongly in the second half to snatch a British & Irish Cup win against Gala. Moseley supporters will no doubt be hoping that their side has gained much-needed confidence from this as they seek only their second win at Meadow Lane.

Moseley make a handful of changes for Sunday’s match. In the front-row the Birmingham side give a debut to newly signed Ben Evans and welcome back dual registered Ethan Waller. The experienced Neil Mason starts in the back-row. In the backs Brad Davies gives way to Glynn Hughes who starts at fly-half.

1.Ethan Waller; 2. Sam Wilkes; 3. Ben Evans; 4.Addison Lockley
5. Buster Lawrence; 6. Neil Mason; 7. Ben Pons; 8. Ben Pienaar
9. Sam Brown; 10. Glynn Hughes; 11. Ollie Thomas
12. Charlie Hayter; 13 Simon Hunt; 14. Anders Mogenson; 15. Billy Robinson

16. Danny Herriott; 17. Steffan Thorp; 18. Tom Hicks; 19. Nigel Burrows
20. Oliver Robinson; 21 Ryan Glynn; 22 Brad Davies.

What The Papers Say

Brian Dick, Birmingham Post.  Moseley RFC determined to solve try-scoring problems

If there are two things Moseley will be desperate to improve upon during the second half of the season it is the parlous home form that has left them without a league win in front of their own hardy followers and the disturbing statistic that shows Kevin Maggs’s men to be the lowest try scorers in the Championship.

When measured against the pre-season aim of ‘making Billesley Common a fortress’ and the conviction that ‘this Moseley can score against anyone’, such shortcomings make uncomfortable reading for those involved.

And if last Saturday’s British & Irish Cup success against Gala brought at least a small measure of relief, two tries and a second home cup victory, in truth cart-wheeling coaches and gangnam dancing players were notable by their absence.

Full Story www.birminghampost.net

Other News This Week

Joseph Duffey of Nottingham RFC appeared before an RFU Disciplinary Panel in Coventry on Tuesday, charged with punching or striking, contrary to Law 10.4(a) in the RFU Championship fixture Cornish Pirates v Nottingham Rugby on Sunday December 2.

The player was given a six week ban and ordered to pay costs of £250. He is free to play again on January 17.

The panel comprised John Brennan, John Loughton and Peter Howard.

Birmingham Post - Moseley sign Wales prop Ben to bolster pack

Moseley have set the proverbial cat amongst the Championship pigeons by signing former Wales international Ben Evans – just days after he left relegation rivals Jersey.

Kevin Maggs hopes to have the tighthead involved for Sunday’s trip to Nottingham and next weekend’s friendly with Northampton Saints notwithstanding Evans’ first competitive appearance at Billesley Common will be on January 5 in a critically important battle at the bottom – against Jersey.

The signing is a massive boost for Moseley, who have been struggling at prop for virtually the entire season, problems that started even before the campaign kicked off when dual-registered Northampton Saint Adam Parkins suffered a serious injury.

Full Story /www.birminghammail.co.uk

Bedford v Rotherham Titans - Boxing Day 15:00

Bedford BluesRotherham Titans Bedford v Rotherham Titans
Wednesday 26th December 
Goldington Road
Kick Off 3pm


Whilst most Championship clubs will have enjoyed a full Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings having played at the weekend, the Blues opted for a traditional Boxing Day clash against the Titans and a bumper crowd is expected.

Looking ahead to the fixture, Bedford Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: “The lads are really looking forward to running out in front of a packed house and with everyone apart from Sacha (ankle), Staffy (bicep) and Scott Spurling (hand) available competition in training has been fierce.

Selection was tough as everyone has put their hands up in recent weeks. We know we are in for a physical battle but preparation couldn't have gone better"

15. James Pritchard (c) 14. James Stephenson 13. Brendan Burke 12. Mark Atkinson
11. Josh Bassett 10. Jake Sharp 9. Darryl Veenendaal
1. Darren Fearn 2. Neil Cochrane 3. Phil Boulton 4. Mike Howard
5. Ben Gulliver 6. Alex Rae 7. Darren Fox 8. Paul Tupai

16. Chris Locke, 17. Ricky Reeves, 18. Dan Seal, 19. Gregor Gillanders
20. Don Barrell, 21. Luke Baldwin, 22. Ian Vass

Rotherham Titans

Rotherham Titans have made 5 changes to the starting line-up that drew 9-9 away at Munster, for their Boxing Day visit to Bedford..

Titans make one change to their backline with Club Captain Garry Law starting at full back; meaning Fergus Mulchrone switches to the wing as Joel Gill is given a rest.

Marshall Gadd comes into the side at loosehead prop for Jamie Kilbane, whilst Dan Baines makes a welcome return at hooker, following a 6 week lay-off with a rib injury. Ben Thomas makes his first start for the club in the second row and completing the changes Carl Kirwan comes back in at openside flanker.

The Boxing Day fixture will be the 34th meeting between the clubs, with Bedford hold a 19-13 overall advantage, with one game drawn; that was the 38-all thriller at Clifton Lane back in September. The last time Titans came away from Goldington Road with a victory was in November 2006; a late Gareth Steenson penalty ensured a 32-34 win for the South Yorkshire outfit.

Titans Head Coach Alex Codling, looking ahead to the holiday clash said, “Going to Bedford will present us with a huge challenge; they are one of the form sides in the division alongside Nottingham and Newcastle. However, on the back of our result away to Munster, the boy’s confidence is high and we’ll go there and give it a real go.

“Our aim is to win as many games as possible from here on in and we’ll see where that takes us at the end of the season. They’ll be a big crowd down there on Boxing Day and the atmosphere will be electric, but we have prepared well and are fully focused on the job at hand.

15 Garry Law (Capt.), 14 Peter Homan, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Lee Blackett
11 Fergus Mulchrone, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone,
Marshall Gadd, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Ross Davies, 4 Ben Thomas
5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Carl Kirwan, 8 Toby Freeman.

16 Harry Hannan, 17 Gareth Denman, 18 Alex Rieder, 19 Joe Ellyatt
20 Pale Nonu, 21 Ben Howard, 22 Jimmy Williams.

What The Papers Say

Rotherham Advertiser - Codling Ready For Bedford Test

Titans chief Alex Codling says his side will be prepared for Bedford’s attacking threat when the sides meet on Boxing Day.

In Codling’s biggest test since taking over, Rotherham head to Goldington Road where they have a grim recent record.

He said: “We’re looking forward to the game even though we know it will be hard."

Full Story www.rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk

Other News This Week

Guy Williams, The Star. New blow for Titans star

Rotherham’s Welsh forward, number eight Rory Pitman, who has just recently returned from injury, has been hurt again and has had an X-ray on his ribs after being injured during last weekend’s 9-9 draw in Cork against champions Munster in the British and Irish Cup.

After seeing Rotherham’s doctor, it is thought that Pitman, who was in outstanding form in Cork until he was hurt, will go to hospital to assess the extent of any damage.

The Welshman is, however, confident that he will be fit for Rotherham’s next Championship match at Bedford on Boxing Day.

Full Story www.thestar.co.uk

Plymouth Albion v Cornish Pirates - Boxing Day 15:00

Plymouth AlbionCornish PiratesPlymouth Albion v Cornish Pirates
Wednesday 26th December 
Kick Off 3pm

BBC Radio Cornwall

Plymouth Albion

Albion are hoping for a bumper Boxing Day crowd when they entertain their nearest rivals the Cornish Pirates at Brickfields.

The eagerly-awaited West Country derby pits two teams separated by just three points in the table at the halfway point.

The Pirates sit sixth but eighth-place Albion go into Wednesday’s clash knowing they could leapfrog above the Cornish side with a victory on home soil.

Although Albion have not beaten the Pirates since 2010, three of the last four games have gone right down to the final seconds.

When the teams met at Mennaye Field at the start of the season, the Pirates narrowly won 19-17 thanks to a late penalty, while the last two league matches at Brickfields have been decided by just four points.

Albion go into Wednesday’s match buoyed by a 59-0 home win over Aberavon in the British & Irish Cup.

Head coach Nat Saumi, a former Pirates favourite, makes just three changes to the team that ran in nine tries against the Welsh side.

Returning to the starting line-up are scrum-half Ruairi Cushion, prop Luke Cowan-Dickie and Fijian international Rupeni Nasiga.

Albion are without Henry Slade and the previously ever-present Sam Hocking due to injuries.

15. Rhodri McAtee 14. Lewis Warner 13. Toby Howley-Berridge 12. Keni Fisilau
11. Tom Bowen 10. Paul Roberts 9. Ruairi Cushion
1. Luke Cowan-Dickie 2. Jon Vickers 3. David Morton 4. Brett Beukeboom
5. Rupeni Nasiga 6. Sean Michael-Stephen (C) 7. Sam Matavesi 8. Aaron Carpenter

16. Jack Arnott 17. Bevon Armitage 18. Ben Rogers 19. Lloyd Fairbrother
20. Tom Cowan-Dickie 21. Harrison Tovey 22. Wayne Sprangle

Cornish Pirates

Derby games between these two sides are always keenly supported, especially during Christmas and a big crowd is once again expected to gather at the Brickfields for this encounter.

When the two teams met at the Mennaye Field back in September, the Pirates were deemed fortunate by some to emerge as 19-17 winners, so they'll be fully prepared and aware that the home side will have revenge on its mind.

Five members of the squad, Ben Mercer, Kieran Hallett, Kyle Marriott, James Tyas and Alan Paver are in the starting line-up to face their former club, whilst Tom Kessell is named on the bench.

Cornish Pirates:
W. Davies, T. Bedford, T. Riley, J. Fatialofa, B. Mercer
K. Hallett, G. Cattle (capt), L. McGlone, K. Marriott, J. Tyas
D. Barry, D. Lyons, A. Paver, R. Elloway, P. Andrew.

R. Storer, D. Semmens, B. Prescott, G. Johnson, A. Cheesman, T. Kessell, S. Hil

What The Papers Say

Sara Raine Plymouth Herald - Saumi delighted Albion sent a message out to their rivals

Albion coach Nat Saumi was delighted his team sent out a message to their Championship rivals in their 59-0 win against Aberavon last Friday.

"We have set the tone for the Pirates game, which was our goal. "Hopefully, Pirates and some other teams will dwell on that (the score).

"We want to set a tone for Brickfields again and for teams to know that it will be a tough game for them to come here. "Everyone is looking forward to the Pirates game now."

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Dick Straughan, The Cornishman - Albion gunning for revenge in Boxing Day derby

To add extra spice to this encounter there will be a scent of revenge hanging heavily in the Plymouth air, as Nat Saumi's side look for some payback after their narrow early season loss at the Mennaye.

Albion looked set for a rare win in Cornwall as they led with eight minutes to go before a Matt Evans try and Rob Cook penalty edged a 19-17 victory in favour of the Pirates. And Pirates head coach Ian Davies knows full well how much that hurt the Devon side.

"We were fortunate to get a win that day because we didn't play well," he said. "We snuck a victory there but our focus is now fully on the game at Brickfields."

He added: "It will be a massive crowd but the loss of Herbie Stupple to injury has been a massive blow to Plymouth. Their results suffered a bit when the Canadians were away, but they are back now."

And Davies doesn't think that the threat of a points deduction hanging over Plymouth will play much of a part in the game. "I can't see it tempering the atmosphere," he said. "Derbies are always intense affairs and Greg MacDonald is refereeing, so we know what to expect from him."

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