Unquestionably the story of the week is the sudden departure of Graham Dawe from Plymouth Albion, writes Richard Grainger.
Dawe, 51, had coached Albion for 12 years and only hung up his boots last season closing the door on a career that won him five England caps and a lengthy spell as first-choice hooker at Bath.
Although Albion are third from bottom in the Championship, Dawe – a farmer from Bude – steered the club from the foot of the former National Three South to the second tier of English club rugby.
Dawe had voiced concerns over plans for the Cornish Pirates proposed ground share with round ball neighbours Plymouth Argyle, should the Pirates achieve promotion to the Premiership.
However, Dawe’s magic wand, which had made silk purses out of many a sow’s ear over the years, had failed to produce results of late and Plymouth have turned to Peter Drewett for a new approach and a fresh start.
Ironically, Drewett, 52, a former England U21 coach and Sports Science lecturer at Exeter University, was himself discarded mid-season by Exeter Chiefs in ’09, following perceived under-achievement during their penultimate Premiership campaign.
Neither Drewett not Dawe were available for comment, but while Dawe is left to ponder what to do next, the road ahead is fairly clear for Drewett: ensure that Albion finish in the top eight and avoid a relegation dogfight.
A 9-24 home defeat by high-fliers London Welsh, would suggest that Drewett has his work cut-out, and with two yellow cards, perhaps his first goal will be to keep 15 men on the turf for 80 minutes.
The shock result of round 12 was Doncaster’s comfortable 36-21 win over the Cornish Pirates at Castle Park. The Knights, who scored two tries in the first twenty minutes, took their opportunities well to establish a 30-14 half-time lead, which they never looked like relinquishing.
Leeds made it seven wins on the bounce with a 25-19 win in a game dominated by the boot. Thankfully for them, it was Joe Ford’s boot that accumulated three drop goals, three penalties and a conversion.
Bedford moved into top stop – if only on alphabetical order – following their 41-13 demolition of bottom-huggers Esher at Goldington Road. The Blues players, coaches and fans celebrated the wonderful event of Movember with a gala party following Saturday’s game.
The “Mo” has become the badge for men’s health, and the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men.
The home side scored six tries, including one from Paul Tupai, playing his 100th game for the club.
Bristol share the top spot with Bedford on 43 points after a hard-fought victory at Richmond Athletic Ground. Tries from Rhys Lawrence and Fautua Otto sealed the victory but the visitors were made to work hard to penetrate tireless Exiles’ defence.
With London Scottish lying in eighth place on 19 points, this underlines the competitiveness of the division. However, with Doncaster one place above them on 32, the top eight clubs are distancing themselves from the relegation zone and it’s beginning to look like an uphill struggle for the bottom four come the play-offs.
Finally, Moseley remain second from bottom following a 62-20 thumping by Nottingham at Meadow Lane.
For the championship table, click here: http://clubs.rfu.com/Fixtures/MatchByDivision.aspx?DivID=130433319