By Richard Grainger
If most clubs in England’s second tier used the third round of the British & Irish Cup to rest Greene King IPA Championship regulars, few coaches will have been too let down by the development players who filled their boots.
Pool 1: Championship basement boys battle it out
Moseley coasted to a comfortable 28-10 win at Billesley Common on Friday night as Ealing failed to build on their opening win in Jersey last weekend. Head coach Mike Cudmore, who made 11 changes to his side, will be more concerned with survival in the division than trying to progress from a group which Leinster A look set to dominate.
Leinster’s fulltime professionals, who lifted the trophy after narrowly defeating Newcastle at Kingston Park back in May, will fancy their chances to retaining it after defeating Cross Keys 31-0 in Dublin to end the Welshmen’s run of seven wins.
Pool 2: Mixed fortunes for Exiles
London Scottish head coach James Buckland took positives from a losing bonus point against Pontypridd, having made 12 changes to his side that beat Moseley last weekend. And they had to do it the hard way when flanker Neil Best was adjudged to have been guilty of a spear tackle before the break, seeing red. Eventually, despite valiant Scottish defence, the extra man told and the Welsh Premiership side ran out 27-20 winners.
London Welsh celebrated their first run out at the Old Deer Park since meeting Bedford in the Championship semi-final in May 2012, with a ten-try thumping of Edinburgh Academical. Will Robinson, one of many changes made by head coach Justin Burnell, led the way with 23 points, including all ten conversions in Welsh’s 73-10 win.
Pool 3: Eagles soar and Titans take the spoils
It was a terrific weekend for Connacht rugby as their second string brushed aside Bedford, who season looked to have finally got of the ground, winning 17-8 at the Sportsground on Saturday. Blues head coach Mike Rayer blamed butchered chances, but praised Connacht Eagles’ clinical finishing for his team’s failure to bag even a bonus point.
Rotherham were forced into the trip to Llanelli with nine front-line players missing but were still able to outmuscle their illustrious Welsh opponents, winning 16-20.
Pool 4: Munster suffer the Brickfield blues
There are only four sides in the competition with one hundred per cent records, but Albion are one of two clubs sitting pretty with maximum points after three outings. Plymouth, who outscored Munster A by two tries to one, forced the Irishmen to leave without even a losing bonus point, and will take huge confidence from their 17-7 win at Brickfields on Friday night.
A Nottingham development side, made up largely from students and reserves, did the Green and Whites proud by doing a seven-try demolition job on Stirling County on Saturday. Nottingham’s 7-50 away win keeps them in the hunt in third place, only three points behind Munster A.
Pool 5: Bristol back on track as youngsters stake their claim
Bristol put their GKIPA Championship woes behind them on Sunday to dispatch a competitive Gala side 62-7 at the Memorial Ground. Lucas Slowik, who at 17 is Bristol’s youngest ever debutant, touched down, while Callum Braley scored a hat-trick and Ellis Genge crossed in their first outings for Bristol at this level.
Leeds travelled to Aberavon and ran riot with six tries at the Talbot Athletic Ground on Saturday. Against a side made up largely of Ospreys Academy players, Carnegie were one of the few GKIPA Championship sides not to decimate their team, and proved far too strong for the Welsh youngsters finishing 22-41 ahead. This win puts Leeds two points ahead of Bristol at the top of Pool 5.
Pool 6: Pirates beat the islanders and Ayr brush aside Ulster
Finally, Jersey lost for a second week running, going down 31-20 to the Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field on Saturday. This was the third bonus point win for the Pirates who look odds-on to progress from this group.
In the other clash in Pool 6, the Ulster Ravens lost to Ayr — the only Scottish side with anything to celebrate from the weekend — 41-22.
British & Irish Cup action continues next weekend with back-to-back return fixtures.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.