By Richard Grainger
Without any ado, here is what went down in round eight of the GK IPA Championship, with a top-versus-bottom battle and a few sides getting on a steady roll of wins.
Burnell’s boys below par but too good for Ealing
London Welsh 28, Ealing Trailfinders 0
London Welsh move six points clear of second-placed Bristol in the GK IPA Championship following their bonus point win against the division’s whipping boys at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday.
Head coach Justin Burnell considered this a case of ‘job done’ and was not unduly concerned that it took until mid-way through the second period, when Tom May dotted down, for Welsh to secure the bonus point. “There was a huge physicality within the Bristol game — a lot of phases — and we have to take into account the fatigue element,” said Burnell, reflecting on their last outing.
Ealing defended well and competed ferociously at the breakdown, but once again had nothing to show for their efforts. Welsh took a 21-point lead into the interval with tries from Rob Lewis and Gordon Ross to add to a penalty try.
Next up for the Burnell’s boys is a trip to the Midlands to tackle resurgent Moseley who have three consecutive wins behind them. “Moseley will be on a high, and they’ll see us as an opportunity to keep their winning streak going,” said Burnell, “but we’ll be up for it.”
Scottish scrum too strong for Leeds
London Scottish 26, Leeds Carnegie 15
It may have finished two tries a-piece at the Athletic ground on Saturday, but Leeds were for once outmuscled at the set piece as Scottish emerged worthy winners. The Exiles’ backs made good use of a plentiful supply of ball for fullback Jim Thompson and skipper Mark Bright to dot down in the first quarter. Facing a 20-3 interval deficit, Leeds turned up their physicality to dominate the second half, forcing Scottish to defend for long periods. Pete Lucock and Stevie McColl crossed for the visitors, but Dan Newton struck two penalties for the hosts to deny Leeds a losing bonus point.
Mose make in three in a row
Bedford Blues 13, Moseley 26
Conceding an early score once again served to galvinise Moseley at Goldington Road on Friday night. Buster Lawrence’s fine solo effort wiped out Neville Edwards’ eighth minute try and put the visitors on track for their third consecutive GKIPA victory.
Moseley outplayed the Blues in the second half, and when Matt Williams slipped through soft-shouldered Bedford tackling for the visitors’ third, it was game over for last year’s division finalists.
Bristol complacency invites Rotherham fightback
Bristol 36, Rotherham 26
If Bristol’s first-team coach Sean Holley was pleased that his side picked up a try bonus point against fellow Aviva Premiership contenders Rotherham on Sunday, he will be less pleased with his team’s second half performance.
In the week that Bristol were docked a point for disciplinary reasons, Holley’s men led 30-9 early in the first half, but conceded seventeen points after the break as Rotherham fought back at the Memorial Stadium.
“We’re delighted with the five points,” said Holley, “but we dropped off in the second half and let Rotherham back into it which isn’t really acceptable.”
Pirates sunk by last minute penalty
Jersey 27, Cornish Pirates 25
With a 15 point deficit early in the second half and an error count suggesting a comeback was about as likely as the build-up to Christmas beginning in December, Jersey stunned the visitors with 17 unanswered points in an action packed final quarter at St. Peter on Saturday.
Niall O’Connor converted Mark McCrea’s try before adding a touchline conversion after Tom Brown had crossed three minutes from time.
With the final kick of the match, O’Connor completed the turnaround with a 45-metre penalty. Despite the win, director of rugby Ben Harvey felt that his side had played better and lost: “… this is still a massive result for us and should give the players a great deal of self-belief.”
Nottingham 15, Plymouth Albion 10
Finally, Nottingham dug deep to pick up their third GKIPA win. Matt Jarvis kicked his fifth penalty ten minutes from time at Meadow Lane on Sunday to secure the points. Centre Heath Stevens scored Albion’s try.