The latest comings and goings in England's ever-competitive second tier...
By Richard Grainger
Former British & Irish Lion Ryan Jones has become the latest big name to sign for Bristol, joining Anthony Perenise and Dwayne Peel amongst others. But multi-millionaire owner Steve Lansdown is content to play down the expectation of a return to the Aviva Premiership for his club.
Lacklustre Leeds almost punish Bristol complacency
Leeds Carnegie 27, Bristol 33
Bristol’s Director of Rugby Andy Robinson was also quick to play down his side’s recurring inability to kill off opponents after once again coming perilously close to snatching defeat from the jaws of their ninth consecutive GKIPA Championship win.
“We are still working on maintaining our levels of performance for the full eighty minutes,” said Robinson, whose side conceded two quick-fire tries in injury time, “but we’re looking at that and it’s an area of focus for us.”
Had Leeds not played with anything other than total ineptitude for all but 15 minutes at Headingley on Sunday, Bristol would have been made to move out of second gear for their five-pointer.
One has to ask if Bristol, when faced with a winner-takes-all scenario, as they surely will be at the business end of the season, will be any more clinical? What made it worse was that, with Leeds reduced to thirteen men and Bristol leading 33-13 in the third quarter, the visitors were unable to move the scoreboard.
Carnegie came to life briefly in the first half shortly after Nicky Robinson had scythed through the hosts’ midfield and fed Nick Koster for Bristol’s third try.
Glyn Hughes added his second penalty for Leeds then danced in under the posts to reduce the interval deficit to 13-21.
However, tries from Ruki Tipuna and Gaston Cortes looked to have made the game safe for Bristol before Leeds bounced back in injury time to secure an unlikely losing bonus point.
Exiles go through the gears for bonus point
London Welsh 29, Bedford Blues 11
Unlike Bristol, the Exiles upped the tempo in the second half to secure a bonus point win over Bedford at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday. Two tries from Seb Jewell, a penalty try and one a-piece from Tom May and Nick Scott were enough to see off a spirited Bedford challenge.
Welsh had their pack’s superiority to thank for a penalty try that allowed them to take an unlikely 12-8 interval lead into the dressing room, but thereafter it was largely one-way traffic.
Welsh, who failed to secure the bonus point against the Cornish Pirates last Sunday, returning from the Duchy with a 5-20 win, sit in second place just three points behind Bristol and look forward to the short trip to the Athletic ground for round two of the battle of the Exiles on Sunday.
Ealing anguish despite Chesters’s crowd pleaser
Ealing Trailfinders 25, Jersey 23
Despite the joy of doing the double over fellow relegation candidates Jersey, Ealing are still favourites to drop through the trap door back into National league One. A massive defensive effort and the 11th try of the season for the ubiquitous Phil Chesters was enough to reverse Jersey’s 15-20 interval lead at Vallis Way on Friday night.
But it was Ealing’s inability to overhaul Bedford in West London last Saturday that leaves them with the glass half empty in the Last Chance Saloon. Chesters scored a brace, but the brace that took the game away from Ealing was the one scored by Mark Atkinson in the last five minutes to secure a 23-39 victory for the Blues.
To make matters worse for Ealing was news that Jersey had defeated Plymouth 23-30 at Brickfields. This result comes as no surprise as Albion’s abysmal home record has thus far yielded a solitary Championship win. Nine points now separate Ealing and Jersey.
Titans score four in fourteen minutes to choke Albion
Rotherham 45, Plymouth 10
Albion’s week didn’t get any better, going down 45-10 to fourth-placed Rotherham at Clifton Lane on Sunday. Plymouth, who only trailed 12-3 at the break, were hit by four tries in fourteen minutes as the Titans raced to a seven-try victory.
Mid-table Pirates have pride to play for
Cornish Pirates 17, Nottingham 11
Pirates conceded a pushover try with two men in the bin at the Mennaye Field on Sunday to give Nottingham a losing bonus point after Kyle Moyle had scored a brace for the hosts. The Cornishmen, in sixth place, are now out of the play-off running.
Exiles end Midlanders’ home run
Moseley 20, London Scottish 23
Mose, who had won six on the bounce at home, could consider themselves unlucky to lose this one, conceding an arbitrary scrum penalty from the final play of the game, which James Love kicked to take the points. Exiles’ skipper Mark Bright, who scored two tries concurred, saying, “To be honest I don’t think we did enough to deserve that game.”