Two of the four Greene King IPA Championship’s clubs in action this weekend are set to meet in the semi-finals of the British & Irish Cup, leaving two others with nothing to look forward to but next season’s action.
By Richard Grainger
Leeds double bubble not yet burst
Leeds 41, Plymouth 21
Carnegie’s hopes of the double are still very much alive after they dispatched Plymouth in front of a meager crowd of just over five hundred at Headingley on Friday night.
Jonah Holmes, the 22 year-old dual registered winger who scored for London Wasps against Saracens last weekend, crossed twice to take his try tally to 12 tries from 18 games, his first coming after just 22 seconds.
Albion conceded a second early try when David Doherty dotted down in the seventh minute, but hit back with 18 unanswered points before the turnaround. Plymouth tries came from Tom Bowen and Chris Elder with six points coming from the boot of Declan Cusack.
But the second half belonged exclusively to Leeds who took control of the game with tries from Holmes, Oli Goss and a penalty try to add to Alex Lozowski’s five-pointer just before the break.
Plymouth, who have now lost four games in a row and have nothing to play for other than pride, face another tough trip to Headingley this weekend in the GKIPA Championship.
“The boys have said they want to come back and put in a big performance,” said Albion head coach, James Shanahan.
“We can’t just turn up and make up the numbers because Leeds are a side that will put 50, 60 or 70 points on you without thinking about it, so we have to turn up right.”
Leeds now look forward to a trip to the Memorial Ground on Sunday 4th May to take on Bristol for a place in the final, in what could turn out to be a dress rehearsal for the division’s play-offs.
Bristol leave it late as Titans run out of players
Bristol 39, Rotherham 24
Bristol scored four tries to Rotherham’s two at the Memorial Ground on Friday night, but this one was an awful lot closer than the score suggests.
The Titans led 24-22 with 12 minutes to go, and it took Iain Grieve’s late score and Charlie Amesbury’s injury time try to settle the matter.
Head Coach Lee Blackett, still stunned by the Titans late reversal said,
“It’s a tough one to swallow; the game was there for the taking.” He added, “We made line-break after line-break… to only score 24 points in a game like that is disappointing.”
Injuries didn’t help Rotherham, who finished the game with four props on the field, with two of them playing in the back row.
Munster massacred by neighbours
Leinster A 47, Munster A 15
Munster may be left to fly the flag for the Emerald Isle in Europe, but their second string were put to the sword at Donnybrook on Friday night.
Cathal Marsh scored 27 points as head coach Girvan Dempsey’s side, unbeaten in the B&I Cup this season, march menacingly towards the final.
Leinster now face Pontypridd, the defending Principality Premiership champions, in the semi-final at Sardis Road.
The ‘House of Pain’ will be an agonizing experience for one of the Celtic sides, who will miss out on the chance to face an English club in the final.
Current holders Leinster romped home in a six-try rout built on a solid first half performance that gave them an almost unassailable 25-3 lead.
Pirates sunk by late penalty
Cornish Pirates 14, Pontypridd 16
The Pirates, who were one of the top qualifiers from the pool stages, were left to survey the wreckage of their season when Ponty fly-half Simon Humberstone knocked over a penalty with four minutes left, to complete the scoring.
But the first half belonged to the hosts, who were well worth their 14-6 interval lead. Aaron Carpenter touched down for the Pirates and Kieran Hallett was on target with three penalties, in reply to two from Humberstone.
But the travelling support — colloquially known as the ‘Valley Commandos’ — outnumbered the Cornish faithful by almost three to one, and roared their side to victory in a second period dominated by the Welshmen.
Liam Belcher crossed for a try for Ponty in the final 10 minutes which Humberstone converted before nailing the all-important three-pointer.
This week sees a return to GKIPA Championship action. The one to watch is at Vallis Way where bottom-placed Ealing take on fellow strugglers Nottingham on Saturday, 3pm kick-off. Ealing must win to keep any survival hopes alive.