You could throw a blanket over the top five clubs in the Championship, but one team is beginning to put a little daylight between themselves and the chasing pack, writes Richard Grainger.
The daylight may be in the shape of a single point, but the Cornish Pirates – who have only lost once (at home to Bedford) – are beginning to look like serious Premiership contenders.
Rotherham – who had only lost twice before Sunday – were made to look very ordinary by the pace and precision of the Pirates who won by 30-13 at the Mennaye Field. In particular, Jonny Bentley – back from injury – gave the Pirates momentum and was instrumental in their first two tries. His pace and game management will give back rows a lot to think about in the coming months. Click here for highlights of the match:
The surprise result of the weekend was at Billesley Common where Bristol suffered their second consecutive defeat on the road, going down 33-27 to Moseley. Both sides managed three tries but Liam Middleton’s men failed to execute the basics and were patchy in defence. The much-vaunted Bristol backs were nullified by the home side, forcing them to turn to the forwards for inspiration. None came.
This was Moseley’s first Championship win in six matches, and delighted Kevin Maggs, the former Irish International and Bristol centre.
Interestingly, Moseley did not make a single substitution – with a bit of luck this may start a new trend.
This result knocks Bristol off the top spot, but more worrying for Middleton must the 71 points they have leaked in the last two weeks.
Bedford remain three points behind the leaders with a comfortable 38-21 win against Plymouth Albion at Brickfields.
The home side trailed 28-7 at the break but managed to stage a mini-comeback when the visitors relaxed in the third period. Tries from Aaron Carpenter and Tyson Lewis reduced the Blues’ lead, but fly-half Jake Sharp settled the visitors’ nerves with a converted try in the 72nd minute.
In a dour game at Headingly, Leeds beat in-form Nottingham 22-19 to make it five wins in a row. A late drop goal from Joe Ford clinched it for Leeds. For the very few highlights of this game, click here: http://www.leedscarnegie.com/news/17882.php
Despite conceding a penalty try, 20 penalties, three yellow cards and finishing the game with 13 men, London Welsh even managed to deny Doncaster a losing bonus point at Castle Park.
This dogged away win brought the Welsh to within two points of the leaders and their 15 unanswered second half points owed a lot to determination and Doncaster’s high error count.
Finally, to Richmond where London Scottish beat bottom-placed Esher 32-17 in a bad-tempered affair. Esher, who conceded a penalty try, had no answer to the Exiles’ dominant scrum. That, combined with a ten point yellow card keeps them rooted to the bottom.
This weekend the Championship has a break for cup action, so look out for a profile of one of the top teams and their coach in next week’s Championship spotlight.
For details of the current Championship league table, click here: http://clubs.rfu.com/Fixtures/MatchByDivision.aspx?DivID=130433319Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.