Despite the trip from west of the Tamar to north of the Avon, the Cornish Pirates start as favourites for Sunday’s top of the Championship clash, writes Richard Grainger.

Retaining the British and Irish Cup may not have been at the top of Bristol boss Liam Middleton’s wish-list, but neither was a third consecutive defeat – this time going down 16-29 on Sunday to Neath at the Memorial ground.

“We understand what we need to do, but it’s not quite clicking at the moment”, says Middleton. “When we get things right, we will be dangerous.”

Defence continues to be the problem, with Bristol leaking four tries. Despite creating opportunities, they could only manage a single touchdown in reply.

A crowd of under a thousand saw Leeds maintain their resurgence as they dispatched Currie 33-16 at Headingly Carnegie on Sunday. Diccon Edwards’ side included ten players from the club’s Academy with five more on the bench. The Edinburgh side could do nothing to prevent Leeds recording their sixth consecutive win. Fly half Joe Ford’s dad Mike had popped in to help out with defensive detail during the week and it showed. It would be a brave man to bet on bottom-placed Esher ending this run at Hersham on Saturday.

Nottingham made it three from three in the B&I Cup edging Pontypridd 20-17 in a tight game at Meadow Lane on Sunday. James Stokes dropped a goal in the sixth minute of injury time to separate the sides.

The Green and Whites have only lost four times in the Championship and resume their campaign against Plymouth Albion at Meadow Lane on Friday night at 7.45pm.

Plymouth will be desperate not to return empty handed from Nottingham after surrendering a 17-0 lead to Scottish Cup holders Ayr, leaving Albion with little interest in the competition. John Beattie showed evergreen quality exposing some soft-shouldered Plymouth tackling to score one and create another. 18-year-old fly half Robbie Ferguson, who had been inconsistent with the boot, clinched it for Ayr with a touchline conversion.

London Scottish had the long journey back along the M4 to contemplate their 63-0 thrashing by Llanelli on Sunday. The Exiles are firmly rooted to the foot of pool 3. For pool details, click here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/tables/8369048.stm.

Third from bottom in the Championship, Scottish will have to rouse themselves for their short trip to the Old deer Park on Saturday where a win is crucial.

On Friday night, Doncaster were brushed aside 39-7 by Ulster Ravens at Deramore Park, while at the far end of the Emerald Isle, Munster conceded a penalty try to allow the Cornish Pirates to pinch a game they felt was theirs.

Elsewhere, London Welsh defeated Aberavon 27-19 at home and Esher lost 18-32 to Leinster A at Hersham. Cross Keys were too strong for Moseley, winning by 42-3, Bedford lost 17-19 at Melrose and the Rotherham Titans went down 6-13 away to Swansea.

Click here for full details of all results: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/results/8369009.stm.

Next week’s blog will focus on the big game between the two Exile sides at The Old Deer Park. It will also look at the the history and aspirations of the home club who, in addition to providing 126 players for Wales, contributed no fewer than seven players to the Lions tour of ’71!

For the record, this fixture was London Welsh’s first ever game on October 24th 1884!

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