RFU Championship News Round 19

Round 20

RFU Championship News


RFU Championship News + Round 20 Teams & Previews

RFU ChampionshipPlus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.

Friday 29 March 2013
Doncaster v Nottingham 16:45
Newcastle v Jersey 17:00 - BBC Radio Jersey - BBC Newcastle

Saturday 30 March 2013
Moseley v London Scottish 15:00

Sunday 31 March 2013
Bristol v Plymouth Albion 16:05 - Live On SKY TV & BBC Radio Bristol
Cornish Pirates v Bedford 15:00 - Live On Pirates TV
Leeds Carnegie v Rotherham Titans 15:00 - BBC Radio Leeds

Doncaster v Nottingham - Friday 16:45

Doncaster KnightsNottinghamDoncaster v Nottingham  
Castle Park
Friday March 29
Kick Off 4:45pm



Clive Griffiths has named his Knights squad to face Nottingham in the penultimate home clash of the season at Castle Park in front of the Sky Sports cameras

The men of Doncaster return to action following a three week lay off as a result of last weekend's game with Bedford Blues falling foul of the weather as opposed to the Green and Whites who were narrowly beaten 14-12 last Friday at Meadow Lane against leaders Newcastle Falcons.

The last meeting between the two sides saw Martin Haag's men fight off an impressive second-half come back from the Knights to secure a 14-16 victory at the home of Doncaster and help the East Midlands outfit progress in the British and Irish Cup.

Knights’ captain Matt Challinor and his troops will be hoping to rectify their previous record and even proceedings for the season by gaining a vital win tomorrow in front of the Castle Park faithful and Sky Sports cameras.

There are no changes to the side that was scheduled to face Bedford last Saturday and just three to the side that suffered a narrow derby day defeat against Rotherham Titans at the start of the month.

Kicking maestro Jamie Lennard returns from injury to reclaim the number 10 jersey with Joe Bedford making up the half-back pairing. Elsewhere in the back line Canadian Connor Braid starts at full-back with Super League convert Will Sharp and Irish speedster Michael Keating starting out wide. Tom Luke and Dante Mama will provide the forward emphasis in midfield both known for their powerful ball carrying.

In the pack, Andy Brown makes his first start since October 2012 to accompany hooker Rhys Buckley and, fit again, tight-head prop Tomas Francis in the front-row. The rest of the front eight has a familiar look to it with skipper Matt Challinor and Dominic Parsons in the boilerhouse, whilst the back row of Adam Kettle, Will Hafu and Chris Planchant remains unchanged.

Doncaster Knights
15 Connor Braid 14 Michael Keating 13 Dante Mama 12 Tom Luke
11 Will Sharp 10 Jamie Lennard 9 Joe Bedford
1 Andy Brown 2 Rhys Buckley 3 Tom Francis 4 Matt Challinor ©
5 Dom Parsons 6 Adam Kettle 7 Will Hafu 8 Chris Planchant

16 Brian McGovern, 17 Ben Sowery, 18 Jerry Cronin, 19 Andy Boyde
20 Chris Hallam, 21 Dougie Flockhart, 22 Tyson Lewis.


ANDREW Forsyth makes his first league start of the season for Nottingham in the Good Friday fixture at Doncaster that could cement the Green and Whites’ spot in the RFU Championship play-offs.

Forsyth, who has made eight appearances off the bench in the Championship this season and started four games in the British and Irish Cup, moves to inside-centre alongside Tim Streather

It is one of two changes made by boss Martin Haag for the trip to Castle Park after last week’s narrow loss to competition leaders Newcastle.

The Green and Whites’ losing bonus point against the Falcons was enough of a consolation to move the second placed outfit 12 points clear of Bristol in fourth and 13 points clear of Leeds Carnegie, who have a game in hand, in fifth.

Hooker Shaun Malton slots into the front-row and makes his first start for the club since Nottingham last travelled to South Yorkshire in January.

Malton’s inclusion sees double centurion Joe Duffey move to the bench, with the Kiwi and centre Joe Munro both rested.

The shuffle among the backs sees fly-half Rory Lynn take his place among the replacements.

Nottingham lock Nic Rouse said every added incentive to get the better of the Knights will be needed as the rock-bottom hosts battle to avoid the drop.

Rouse insists their record of six consecutive league wins, dating back to October 2010, and the 11 places and 44 points that separate them in the standings count for nothing.

“We have that extra motivation to get the win in Donny now, but we are not going to ignore the fact that it is going to be a tough challenge against a team that will throw everything at us,” Rouse said.

“If and when we secure a play-off berth it doesn’t mean we are going to relax, because that is when the real hard work starts.”

Andrew Savage 14 David Jackson 13 Tim Streather 12 Andrew Forsyth
11 Alex Lewington 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 8 Alex Shaw.

Replacements from:
16 Joe Duffey 17 Ryan Bower 18 Joe Quinn 19 Tom Calladine
20 Finlay Barnham 21 Rory Lynn 22 Joe Cobden

What The Papers Say

Nottingham Post:- Nottingham Rugby Ready To Seal Championship Play-Offs Place

NOTTINGHAM Rugby don't need a crowbar to get into the Championship play-offs.

And the Green and Whites also don't need a baseball bat to hit a home run, having been in great form at Meadow Lane all season.

But they are still using both of those things in their assault on promotion into the Premiership.

The bat is given to the player that makes the biggest 'hit' in a game, while the bar is handed out if a player makes a bad mistake – and Rouse says the funny idea has spurred the players on this season.

Full Story www.thisisnottingham.co.uk

Other News Today

Announcement From Tony De Mulder, Doncaster's President

To alleviate the uncertainty about our plans for next season I am pleased to be able to make the following announcements:

 Obviously the number one priority of Clive Griffiths, his fellow coaches and all our players is to preserve our position in the Championship and this is what they will be focusing their attention on over the next four games.

We have believed for some time that the outcome of our season would come down to the last two games and this is what it is now looking like.

Assuming that the Knights are successful in their aim, our plan for next season will be to put together a financial package that will enable us to consolidate our position in the Championship and not have to battle the threat of relegation as we have this season.

If the worst happens and we are relegated, our main sponsors and many others have agreed to put in additional finances to offset the loss of RFU central funding thus enabling the Knights to compete as a full-time professional side within National One with the aim of securing a return to the Championship the following season.

At this point the plan referred to in the previous paragraph would kick in, albeit a year later.

Finally. the Board have reviewed the results of the experiment of playing on Friday nights and these have proved to be financially inconclusive. They have therefore decided to accede to the views expressed by many members and all Knights home games next season, other than in exceptional circumstances, will be played on Saturday afternoons.

The Board would like to thank those members, season ticket holders and other supporters who have attended all matches this season, irrespective of which day the matches have been played on, and hope that everyone will gather around to help them drive up attendances next season

 I hope this will now clarify the situation and that we can all move forward together in support of Doncaster Knights.

 Tony De Mulder - President

Newcastle Falcons v Jersey - Friday 17:00

Newcastle FalconsJersey RugbyNewcastle Falcons v Jersey  
Kingston Park
Friday March 29
Kick Off 5pm

Live On
BBC Radio Jersey - BBC Newcastle

Newcastle Falcons

Dean Richards has rung the changes for today’s Good Friday clash with Jersey.

The Newcastle Falcons boss has made nine changes in all with Joel Hodgson and Warren Fury the most notable inclusions at half-back.

Alex Crockett replaces Jamie Helleur in the centres and plays alongside Adam Powell who is set to make his home debut.

Meanwhile Richards has shuffled the pack with Grant Shiells, Rob Vickers and Kieran Brookes all forming a new-look front row.

James Goode gets the nod ahead of Scott MacLeod in the second-row, while Mark Wilson returns from illness to slot in at blindside flanker with Ollie Stedman rounding off the changes at No.8.

Newcastle come into Friday’s contest on the back of two tricky affairs against Bedford Blues and Nottingham Rugby respectively.

A 17-15 victory at home to Bedford by virtue of a last gasp try from Noah Cato, was backed up by a 14-12 win on the road at Nottingham.

Forwards coach John Wells, who took on the media duties this week, believes it was just the tonic as the Falcons kick-on towards the play-offs.

“The Bedford and Nottingham games have actually helped us because they have exposed us in certain areas which we can work on going into those crucial matches at the end of the season,” said Wells.

“It was good to have those hard fixtures, and now we have to learn the lessons of why we were exposed in certain areas and put things right for when the do or die games come around.

“I’m actually thankful that we are playing those types of games now, and I’m thankful that we are playing Jersey this weekend because they will come at us and that is what we want,” added the former England forwards coach.

Wells watched his side defeat Jersey 24-3 in the reverse fixture back in November, and the Yorkshireman is expecting a physical battle when Ben Harvey’s men come to town.

“There is no doubt that they [Jersey] will come at us upfront, and they are probably the best scrummaging team in the Championship,” said Wells.

Wells added: “I know our scrum is a good one, and I know on our day that we are the best in the league, but if we get it wrong, Jersey will punish us.

“Their driving lineout is excellent and their pick and go game is good – if they get momentum in that department, then it will be a tough game.”

Newcastle Falcons:
15 Tom Catterick, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Adam Powell
11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Warren Fury
1 Grant Shiells, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Sean Tomes
5 James Goode, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ollie Stedman

16 Matt Thompson, 17 James Hall, 18 Jonny Golding, 19 Scott MacLeod
20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Jimmy Gopperth, 22 Ally Hogg


Jersey make the 20th attempt of the season thus far to force the 'Richards Revolution' off track. Newcastle Falcons have won all 19 matches in the RFU Championship to date and are heavy favourites for promotion back to the Aviva Premiership, but the visitors from the Channel Islands insist they aren't travelling to the chilly - but hopefully not frozen - north just to make up the numbers.

Directors of Rugby Ben Harvey and Dean Richards met at the Championship launch at Twickenham last August, but have since been preoccupied with their number one priorities for 2012/13. Richards' intention is to emulate the achievement of his Harlequins side in 2005/06 and go straight back up to the top tier;

Harvey's over-riding aim has been for Jersey, after a steep climb up the league pyramid, to survive their first season at level two and report for a second campaign in September.

Seven points clear of 12th-placed Doncaster Knights, Jersey believe one more win from their final three games will seal their destiny.

While most observers see the clash between the bottom two at Jersey's St Peter ground on April 13th as the one that will determine who is relegated to SSE National One, both sides have the chance to upset a high-flier on Good Friday

Harvey introduces four new faces into his starting XV from the line-up who lost narrowly to Bristol at St Peter last Saturday. After an impactful debut from the bench, Tongan hooker Elvis Taione will start in the front row, lining up alongside Richard Barrington, who is preferred to Sean McCarthy.

Injury will keep Nathan Hannay out of the Jersey side, while Guy Thompson sustained a knock against Bristol and has joined Hannay on the casualty list. Rob Anderson keeps his place in the second row, while flanker Joe Buckle, on loan from Bath since January, slots into the back row.

"Rob Anderson gave a terrific performance against Bristol and we want the same again from him," he said. "Joe Buckle had a great game a few weeks ago against Rotherham but hasn't had many opportunities since, so he has a real chance to shine."

The final addition to Jersey's starting XV is winger James Copsey, who is recalled after full-back Barry Davies suffered a hip injury. Max Stelling will take the number 15 Jersey, while new signings Mark Foster and Mark McCrea team up in midfield.

Jersey's bench includes three men who have captained the Island side: scrum-half Dave McCormack, a second Tongan international in powerful forward Talite Vaioleti, and centre Dai Bishop, who is set to return to lay off following a six-week absence with a broken hand.

March has seen Jersey record their first away win of 2012/13, the 15-19 success at Plymouth, as well as garnering bonus points in defeat against London Scottish, Nottingham and Bristol. Harvey believes that all three results could have gone the other way.

"Some of our execution has let us down at key moments, and I also think there have been cases where we've not had the rub of the green," he said. "But we gave Newcastle a good contest when they came to our place before fading towards the end, and four months on we think we're a better side than we were then, and can cause them some trouble."

A second instance of illness in the Jersey camp has caused a further revision to the squad announced for the Good Friday clash with Newcastle Falcons.

Flanker Charlie Walker-Blair was forced to drop out of the squad on Thursday afternoon and his place in the starting XV is taken by Kingsley Lang. James Voss comes onto the bench.

Earlier on Thursday Jersey announced the loss of Nicky Griffiths, again through illness, with Dave McCormack stepping up as scrum-half and skipper, and Donovan Sanders joining the replacements.

Revised Jersey squad
1 Richard Barrington 2 Elvis Taione 3 Jon Brennan 4Rob Anderson
5 Dave Markham 6 Kingsley Lang 7 Joe Buckle 8 Fred Silcock
9 Dave McCormack (capt) 10 Michael Le Bourgeois 11 Ed Dawson
12 Mark Foster 13 Mark McCrea 14 James Copsey 15 Max Stelling

Sean McCarthy Dave Felton, James Gethings, Talite Vaioleti
James Voss, Donovan Sanders, Dai Bishop

What The Papers Say

Anna Kessel, The Guardian:- Jersey's Pint-Fuelled Preparations Are In Past

After five promotions in eight years, Championship side Jersey are in Newcastle and in the mood to take a big scalp

Just over a year ago Jersey's director of rugby, Ben Harvey, turned to one of his players while they were sitting in the stands at Newcastle's Kingston Park and said, "We'll be playing here one day." The player in question turned to him in disbelief; it was a conversation stopper.

With the teams due to meet at Kingston Park on Friday evening, Harvey chuckles at the anecdote but issues a warning that his team, albeit fighting to avoid relegation, do not wish to be thought of as the David to Newcastle's table-topping Goliath.

Full Story www.guardian.co.uk

Mark Smith, The Journal:- Squad Rotation Ensures Falcons Will Be Jaunty

NEWCASTLE Falcons have changed more than half of their team for today’s visit of second-bottom Jersey, Joel Hodgson and Warren Fury starting in a new-look half-back partnership.

The bulk of the freshening-up comes in the forward pack for a game which will have no effect on the Falcons’ final league placing – top seeding already long guaranteed for the promotion play-offs.

Full Story www.journallive.co.uk

Moseley v London Scottish - Saturday 15:00

MoseleyLondon ScottishMoseley v London Scottish 
Billesley Common
Saturday March 30
Kick Off 3pm



After a tremendous win at home against Bristol, Coaches Maggs and Hilton were desperately disappointed to have the Leeds match cancelled last Saturday because of snow.

With a sterling effort of snow-clearance from an army of volunteers and ground-staff the pitch should be in good condition for tomorrow’s contest with London Scottish.

This will be the fourth time the teams have met this season, Moseley winning twice in the B & I Cup, but losing in the corresponding Championship fixture.

All four matches have been decided by very narrow margins, but Maggs is keen to even the score in league points. “A win this week-end would surely secure our Championship future for next year” he said.

”I have been delighted with our response since we established new targets at Christmas, and with one exception we have been more than competitive in all Championship matches since then.

The Moseley coaches have kept faith with the bulk of the selection made for last week-end. The game has added spice with the likely return to Billesley Common of several players who played in the red and black shirts last year.

1.Tom Warren; 2. Sam Wilkes; 3. Ben Evans; 4. Addison Lockley
5 Buster Lawrence; 6. Ben Pons; 7. Oliver Robinson; 8. Neil Mason;
9.Ryan Glynn; 10. Glynn Hughes; 11 Billy Robinson
12. Anthony Carter; 13. Greg King; 14. Simon Hunt; 15. Ollie Thomas

16.Ethan Waller; 17. Danny Herriott; 18. Mike Powell; 19.Sam Dickinson
20.Craig Voisey; 21 Bradley Hunt; 22. Bradley Davies

London Scottish

London Scottish have made five changes to the starting XV for this clash against Moseley at Billesley Common with two dual-registered players coming into the line-up.

Winger Miles Mantella and lock Sam Twomey both start, as does Lewis Calder in the back row. There are also returns for Phil Godman at fly-half and Eric Fry at tighthead prop.

Mantella has scored five tries in his last four starts in a Scottish shirt, including braces against both Nottingham and Jersey. He lines up on the left wing, in a back three comprised of himself, James Love and Jim Thompson. Godman comes back into the starting side, replacing Simon Whatling at stand-off.

USA international prop Fry is back in the starting XV at tighthead, replacing Lewis Thiede. Twomey is brought into the second row alongside Paul Spivey, with Tyler Hotson named on the replacements bench. Calder is chosen at openside flanker, with Chevvy Pennycook moving to blindside and skipper Mark Bright continuing at No. 8.

Thiede, Nic Mayhew and Harry Allen will provide the front row replacement options from the bench, with Ben Russell, Richard Bolt and PJ Gidlow joining Hotson to form a five-two split between forwards and backs.

Director of Rugby Simon Amor said: “We know we face a huge challenge against an in-form Moseley team. It’s a very challenging place to play and their results at home have been excellent. Moseley will go into this game as favourites and we’ll have to get all parts of our game right to earn a result.”

London Scottish
15 Jim Thompson 14 James Love 13 Oli Grove 12 Andy Reay
11 Miles Mantella 10 Phil Godman 9 Jamie Stevenson
1 Mark Irish 2 Adam Kwasnicki 3 Eric Fry 4 Paul Spivey
5 Sam Twomey 6 Chevvy Pennycook 7 Lewis Calder 8 Mark Bright (c)

16 Nic Mayhew 17 Harry Allen 18 Lewis Thiede 19 Tyler Hotson
20 Ben Russell 21 Richard Bolt 22 PJ Gidlow

What The Papers Say

Brian Dick, Birmingham Mail:- Old Boys Are Back At Resurgent Moseley

For the second season running Moseley could celebrate their Championship status with a home victory over London Scottish this weekend.

In a similar situation to last term, when Mose prevailed 26-20 in the relegation play-offs, Kevin Maggs’s men will hope a win, combined with a defeat for bottom-placed Doncaster, will ensure second-tier rugby for an eighth consecutive season.

Just as they were 12 months ago, the Red and Blacks are a rejuvenated team that has grown into itself as the campaign has progressed and after many, many false dawns, Billesley Common is finally beginning to resemble the fortress all the pre-season bluster insisted it must become.

However, London Scottish will contain several players with intimate knowledge of the peculiarities of the Common. With Andy Reay, Chevvy Pennycook, Paul Spivey and Colin Quigley in their side they will understand exactly how to get up and down the Billesley slope.

Full Story www.birminghammail.co.uk

Bristol v Plymouth Albion - Sunday 16:05

Bristol RugbyPlymouth AlbionBristol v Plymouth Albion 
The Memorial Ground
Sunday March 31
Kick Off 4:05pm

Live On
BBC Radio Bristol


Andy Robinson shuffles his pack ahead of Bristol’s televised clash with Plymouth Albion at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday .

The Director of Rugby makes a total of six changes from the side that fought back to victory over Jersey last weekend.

In the backline, Jack Tovey and Ruki Tipuna return to the starting line-up, while Ben Mosses makes his first league start since January.

Mark Lilley is set for his first RFU Championship start of the campaign, while Rhys Lawrence and James Merriman are also included.

Robinson opts for four forwards and three backs split on the replacements bench, with England U20s scrum half Callum Braley named in the 22-man squad.

Bristol Rugby
Jon Goodridge; Jack Tovey, Luke Eves, Ben Mosses, Ryan Edwards
Adrian Jarvis, Ruki Tipuna; Mark Lilley, Rhys Lawrence, Gaston Cortes
Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Iain Grieve (c), James Merriman, Marco Mama.

Tom Channon, Bruce Douglas, Roy Winters, Mitch Eadie, Callum Braley, Tristan Roberts, George Watkins.

Plymouth Albion

PLYMOUTH Albion head coach Nat Saumi keeps faith with a winning team for Sunday’s televised clash with Bristol at the Memorial Stadium .

Saumi saw his side end a nine-match losing run last weekend with a spirited 16-9 win away at London Scottish.

He says those players that impressed against the Exiles deserve a chance to show what they can do to a wider audience on Sunday.

“The players have to be rewarded for the tremendous job they did last week,” said Saumi, who is hoping Albion can claim their first win at the Memorial Stadium since the 2004/05 season.

15. Rhodri McAtee 14. Lewis Warner 13. Toby Howley-Berridge 12. Bevon Armitage
11. Tom Bowen 10. Declan Cusack 9. Ruairi Cushion (capt)
1. Ben Rogers 2. Jon Vickers 3. Lloyd Fairbrother 4. Brett Beukeboom
5. Sean-Michael Stephen 6. Herbie Stupple 7. Sam Matavesi 8. Aaron Carpenter

16. Paul Rowley 17. Paul Roberts 18. Ien Ascroft-Leigh 19. David Morton
20. Sam Hocking 21. Tom Cowan-Dickie 22. Paul Bailey

What The Papers Say

Bristol Post :- I Want To See Bristol Players Continually Improving, Says Robinson

ANDY Robinson will demand constant improvement from Bristol's players – but accepts it "will take time" to establish the level of consistency he is seeking.

Since Robinson took up his role as director of rugby on March 1, Bristol have beaten Bedford away from home, lost back-to-back games to Nottingham and then fought back to win at Jersey.

In that period, their performances have fluctuated – from the brilliance at Bedford to the flat second-half at Moseley and then last weekend's improvement after half-time at Jersey.

And Robinson said: "Consistency comes from what you do on the training field – the approach to the technical and tactical aspects of the game, as well as your fitness levels

Full Story:- www.thisisbristol.co.uk

Sara Raine, Plymouth Herald:- The Pressure Is All On Bristol, Says Nat Saumi

NAT SAUMI believes all the pressure will be on Bristol on Sunday when his Plymouth Albion team make the trip to the Memorial Stadium for the Sky Sports televised Championship clash.

Albion head up the M5 knowing they only really have pride resting on the game, having virtually secured their Championship status by beating London Scottish away last weekend.

Bristol, however, desperately need the win to keep them in the running for a promotion play-off spot.

"We will go into the game as underdogs," said Saumi, "We go into the game with no pressure. They are the ones who have all the work to do.”

Full Story:- www.thisisplymouth.co.uk

Cornish Pirates v Bedford Blues - Sunday 15:00

Cornish PiratesBedford BluesCornish Pirates v Bedford 
Mennaye Field
Sunday March 31
Kick Off 3pm

Live On Pirates TV

Cornish Pirates

One of the highlights of the season, the Blues always provide strong opposition and a big crowd is on the cards for this holiday match.

Prop Paul Andrew, now aged 24 and proudly Cornish-born, is set to make his 100th appearance for the Pirates.

Paul has had five seasons with the club, where he has developed as a hard-working and gifted performer and although he departs for Worcester at the end of this season all will wish him well.

There's another milestone for Tom Kessell who starts at scrum-half, for what will be his 50th appearance for the Pirates, whilst Laurie McGlone returns at No. 8

Jonny Bentley, ‘JB’Jonny Bentley, ‘JB’, will start at fly-half.

JB will be eager to get some playing time under his belt having been out for a lengthy spell due to injury.

Cornish Pirates:
15 Grant Pointer, 14 Ben Mercer, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Junior Fatialofa
11 Matt Evans, 10 Jonny Bentley, 9 Tom Kessell
8 Laurie McGlone, 7 Phil Burgess, 6 Kyle Marriott (capt), 5 Gary Johnson
4 Darren Barry, 3 Peter Joyce, 2 Rob Elloway, 1 Paul Andrew.

B. Prescott, D. Semmens, D. Lyons, A. Cheesman
Gavin Cattle, l, K. Hallett, T. Bedford

Match Offcials
Referee: Matt Carley (RFU)     
Assistants: Craig Maxwell-Keys & Michael Patz

Bedford Blues

After an enforced break last weekend, Bedford Blues make the long journey down to Penzance to face Cornish Pirates on Easter Sunday with both teams looking to make the top four of the RFU Championship.

Games against the two teams are often thrilling affairs and home advantage has often proved handy. When the two sides met back in November the Blues were victorious in front of the Goldington Road faithful with a 32-6 win.

Ben Gulliver misses out on a return to one of his former clubs after breaking a bone in his wrist during the defeat at Leeds three weeks ago while Henry Staff, Sacha Harding and James Pritchard remain on the long term injury list. Phil Boulton is also ruled out with a neck injury.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s match, Blues coach Martin Hynes said: “The lads are desperate to get out there again and get some rugby played. It seems an age since our last game and there is only so much training you can take!

“Five games in four weeks will test us but we are excited by the challenge of that and it starts Sunday against our old foes in Cornwall. I think both sides will be pretty desperate to get a performance, so it should once again make for an exciting fixture.”

Bedford have made one change to the team announced as James Short has been recalled to Saracens. As a result, Josh Bassett will start on the wing

Bedford Blues
15. Ben Ransom 14. James Stephenson 13. Brendan Burke 12. Mark Atkinson
11. Josh Bassett 10. Myles Dorrian 9. Darryl Veenendaal
1. Ricky Reeves 2. Neil Cochrane 3. Dan Seal 4. Mike Howard
5. Paul Tupai 6. Gregor Gillanders 7. Darren Fox (c) 8. Don Barrell

16. Scott Spurling, 17. Darren Fearn, 18. Ben Cooper 19. Tom Armes
20. Luke Baldwin, 21. Jake Sharp, 22. Ollie Dodge

What The Papers Say

Rhod Mitchell, Western Morning News:- Bentley Makes Return For Cornish Pirates

Cornish Pirates fly-half Jonny Bentley makes his long awaited return from injury and goes straight into the team to face Bedford Blues at the Mennaye Field on Easter Sunday

Bentley has been sidelined with a serious Achilles injury since November 2011 although the New Zealander is unlikely to play more than 40 minutes after 17 months on the sidelines.

Full Story:- www.thisiscornwall.co.uk

Michael Hann, Bedford Today;- Blues Are 'Desperate' For Points From Pirates Clash

Bedford Blues will be ‘desperate for points’ when they play Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field on Easter Sunday, writes Michael Hann.

And, after not having a match for two weeks due to the postponement of the Doncaster game, Bedford director of rugby Mike Rayer says his side are raring to go.

He said: “I think we are desperate for points to keep up there and keep the wolves from the door.

“It’s a big weekend for us and I think whatever side they put out it will be a fascinating, physical game.”

Full Story:- www.bedfordtoday.co.uk

Leeds Carnegie v Rotherham Titans - Sunday 15:00

Leeds CarnegieRotherham Titans Leeds Carnegie v Rotherham Titans 
Headingley Stadium
Sunday March 31
Kick Off 3pm

Live On
BBC Radio Leeds

Leeds Carnegie

Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards has made three changes to his side for the eagerly awaited clash with Rotherham in the RFU Championship this Sunday at Headingley Carnegie.

The game will see Leeds play at home for the first time since the first weekend in January and there is extra spice with both teams knowing a win will secure the Yorkshire Regiment Trophy as the title of best team in Yorkshire.

Fred Burdon has been ruled out through injury so Pete Lucock comes into the back line whilst Rory Clegg returns to action for Leeds at fly half having won the LV Cup with Harlequins a fortnight ago.

James Currie comes in for his first start for the club since joining on loan from Worcester earlier this season as he replaces Damien Tussac, who starts on the bench.

Leeds Carnegie
15. Stevie McColl 14. Oli Goss 13. Josh Griffin 12. Pete Lucock
11. David Doherty 10. Rory Clegg 9. Craig Hampson
1. Ben Harris 2. Scott Freer 3. James Currie 4. Calum Green
5. Matt Smith 6. Rob Baldwin 7. Chris Walker 8. Jacob Rowan (c)

16. Joe Graham 17. Lee Imiolek 18. Damien Tussac 19. Dominic Barrow
20. Ryan Burrows 21. James Doherty 22. Joe Ford

Rotherham Titans

Rotherham Titans are aiming to finish off the season with a flurry and end the season on a high, starting with the short trip to Yorkshire rivals Leeds Carnegie on Sunday.

The winner of Sunday’s clash, in addition to claiming Championship points, will also lift the inaugural Yorkshire Regiment Trophy and claim the title of top team in the county.

Titans Alex Codling has made just three changes to the starting fifteen that beat Doncaster Knights 19-25 last time out at Castle Park in the Championship.

In the backline Joel Gill and Lee Blackett form a new centre partnership; Eamonn Sheridan moves out onto the wing as Curtis Wilson who’s on loan from Leeds is ineligible for the match. In the pack, the only change sees Toby Freeman return at number 8 for Alex Rieder who gets the nod for a bench spot.

Contests between Rotherham and Leeds tend to be tight affairs and the overall league head to head sees the South Yorkshire side just edging matters 9-8. The game played at Clifton Lane earlier in the season saw Leeds take the points back to West Yorkshire with a 13-24 victory.

Previewing the encounter Alex Codling explained, “Our preparation has been tough in the last few weeks with how the weather’s been in the area, but we had a really good session down at Loughborough on Tuesday both in terms of the weights side and a really good team session against their first side. The facilities down there were outstanding, they had a group of really good guys and overall it was very beneficial for us and we got a lot out of the sessions.

“We know the winner of Sunday’s match will lift the Yorkshire Regiment Trophy and we’d like to be the first club to do that. It would give us something tangible from the season and it would mean a lot to the players and the supporters.

“Leeds will no doubt pose us with a tough challenge, their set piece work is good and their scrum is a much improved part of their game. They’ve got a very good back row, Clegg at ten is always a threat with his experience and their back three are very dangerous. Doherty in particular is a threat; I played with him for the Barbarians and I know just how dangerous he can be, he’s an outstanding finisher.

“We know we’ll be the underdogs up there on Sunday, but our boys relish a challenge and they’ll be ready for that challenge when it arrives. We also know how good we can be when we are all performing well, we saw that against Newcastle and we know on our day we can beat any team in the division. Our aim is to finish off the season with four wins and that starts this week against Leeds.”

15 Garry Law (Capt.), 14 Mike Doneghan, 13 Joel Gill, 12 Lee Blackett
11 Eamonn Sheridan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone
1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Ben Thomas
5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Carl Kirwan, 8 Toby Freeman.

16 Alistair Thomson, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Ross Davies, 19, Alex Rieder
20 Laurence Pearce, 21 Pale Nonu, 22 Jimmy Williams.

What The Papers Say

Yorkshire Evening Post:- Play-offs in Leeds Carnegie's own hands insists Blackett

Ex-Leeds Carnegie stalwart Lee Blackett insists a top-four Championship play-off spot is his former club's for the taking.

That said, it won't stop him doing his level best to frustrate their ambitions with current club Rotherham Titans at Headingley on Easter Sunday .

It's only fifth-placed Carnegie's second game at their home ground in almost six months due to ongoing pitch issues, with the Headingley clash against Plymouth Albion in the first week of January ordered to be replayed after the referee moved to uncontested scrums.

Full Story:- www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk

The Star:- Rotherham Titans: Duo Gear Up For Derby

Two former Leeds players, now major figures at Clifton Lane, are included in the Rotherham line-up for this Sunday’s Yorkshire derby against Leeds Carnegie.

Centre Lee Blackett and prop forward Gareth Denman return to West Yorkshire with one aim in mind: to gain revenge.

Titans coach Alex Codling has picked flanker Latu Makaafi, who has recovered from a knee injury, and he said: “We have had a positive build-up to the Leeds game.Our sessions at Loughborough University on Tuesday were outstanding.

“The facilities were exceptional and after we had trained indoors, we played against the university side who are doing well in National One. It is important we build a relationship with Loughborough University. Two or three of their players, all top athletes, should be of interest to the Titans.

Full Story:- www.thestar.co.uk