By Richard Grainger
Only three matches in the Greene King IPA Championship went ahead this weekend, as Rugby became another casualty of waterlogged Britain. But despite the atrocious weather, if the route to one of the venues deemed playable wasn’t flooded, a feast of Championship rugby that defied the conditions was well worth the effort.
Leeds take total control and top spot
Leeds Carnegie 62, Moseley 5
Carnegie recorded the fastest bonus point in English domestic rugby this season when Craig Hampson sprinted 50 metres to score Leeds’ fourth try in the tenth minute at Headingley on Sunday.
Moseley, who are not entirely out of the relegation scrap, were undone by an imperious master class from a club who will go by the name of Yorkshire Carnegie next season.
It has often been said that only Margaret Thatcher could unite Yorkshire, but Sir Ian McGeechan’s plan to transform the Headingley outfit would provide the county with a beacon to draw the best talent from across the White Rose shire.
What would really help would be a return to the Aviva Premiership, and Sunday’s ten-try dismemberment of lowly Moseley not only moved Carnegie to the top of the division, but also served to underline the boldness of McGeechan’s plan.
Nottingham robbed by last gasp penalty
Nottingham 24, Bristol 25
Bristol looked anything but Premiership candidates at Meadow Lane on Sunday, but did enough to leave the Green and Whites pondering what they have to do to win a game.
Nottingham led 14-0 lead on the half hour mark with tries from Ryan Hough and Joe Munro, both converted by Matt Jarvis, while Bristol butchered three clear chances. Ross Rennie came up from a heap of bodies on the Nottingham line to put Bristol on the scoreboard before the visitors were awarded a penalty try to bring them within two points. Adrian and Matt Jarvis swapped penalties then Rennie crossed for his second to give Bristol a 17-22 lead.
But plucky Nottingham hit back in injury time with a penalty try converted by Jarvis to give them what looked like a match winning lead. But with seconds remaining, Bristol were awarded a scrum penalty which Nicky Robinson slotted to bag the points and bring heartbreak for local supporters.
“It’s important for the players to have the experience of close battles like that – it went right to the wire,” said Bristol director of rugby, Andy Robinson, whose enthusiasm for a tight contest may have diminished had Nottingham been awarded a penalty when Dan Montagu was tackled in the air from the previous Bristol re-start.
“We didn’t convert our chances in the first period and that was frustrating,” Robinson added, “so there is plenty for us to work on.”
Socino show punishes sloppy Scottish discipline
Rotherham 15, London Scottish 12
Rotherham may have done the double over their nearest rivals for a play-off berth in a try-less clash at Clifton Lane on Saturday, but they looked far from promotion candidates.
Titans’ Head coach Lee Blackett was quick to recognise this, saying, “We have still to beat a side in the top four and we need to prove that we can play against the best sides and win.”
Scottish had the benefit of the wind at their backs first and took a 12-3 lead into the dressing room, courtesy of four Dan Newton penalties. But the league’s top points scorer, Juan Pablo Socino raised his tally to five goals after the break and that was enough to give the Titans a Saturday night at the top of the table.
Head coach James Buckland lamented the Exiles’ shocking discipline, and having two men sent to the bin didn’t help their cause. “Our indiscipline in our own half cost us,” said Buckland, “the referee pinged us off the park.” Scottish came closest to a try deep into injury time but a crucial knock-on compounded a miserable day.
This weekend’s action sees Bristol play Plymouth, Ealing tackle Bedford and Moseley take on the Cornish Pirates while the others have a break.