By Richard Grainger
DESPITE WINTRY conditions, four Championship games managed to go ahead, with only Newcastle and London Scottish conceding postponements.
On Friday night Bristol reaped the reward of their ground staff’s efforts to gain revenge over visitors Leeds with a 12-9 win. But it was rain and high winds, not snow, that made things difficult for the players at the Memorial Stadium.
Bristol had the benefit of a strong following wind in the first half, and, helped by Carnegie’s indiscipline which led to the first of two yellow cards, built a 12-0 interval lead.
Lock Dominic Barrow was shown yellow by referee JP Doyle for persistent infringement, following which Bristol fly-half Adrian Jarvis slotted the first of his four penalties.
Carnegie’s on-loan fly-half Rory Clegg struck back after the interval with three penalties, but the dominance of the Bristol forwards was the difference between the sides.
“This keeps us in the fight,” head coach Liam Middleton told Bristol Rugby TV. “I think it’s given us a renewed belief about what we can achieve this season. I’m disappointed not to come away with a try at some point of the game, but I think the conditions dictated that a little bit.”
This win, watched by over 4,000 hardly souls, moves Bristol into fifth position, two points behind Leeds.
At St Peter on Saturday, heavy rain forced the match to be switched from the main arena to an adjacent pitch, where Jersey picked up four valuable points, defeating Rotherham 13-10.
Penalties from Mike Le Bourgeois and Titans’ Garry Law were the only scores of the first half, but man of the match No8 Guy Thompson scored for the hosts early in the second period to put some daylight between the sides.
Le Bourgeois converted and added a penalty to put Jersey in the driving seat at 13-3, however Rotherham fought back with a try from scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone, from a lineout set move.
Despite Jersey’s protestations that Mulchrone hadn’t grounded the ball, the score stood and Law converted to set up a tense and often fractious finish.
Each side had a player sent to the bin in the last minute when a promising move from the Titans was called back and the hosts held out for the win.
“We knew we were taking on a really good side,” Jersey’s Director of Rugby told their website, “and I knew they’d be a tough proposition on a heavy pitch.”
This win leaves Jersey second from bottom, but crucially five points ahead of Doncaster whose game against London Scottish was called off.
Jersey’s joy at moving further away from relegation pole position was short-lived with news of fellow strugglers Moseley’s win at Brickfields on Saturday.
Albion’s Paul Roberts and Moseley’s Glyn Hughes notched two penalties a-piece and it looked as if a draw was on the cards until the fifth minute of stoppage time.
The Midlanders, whose scrum had creaked all afternoon, were awarded a penalty when Albion’s pack were adjudged to have collapsed and Hughes struck the winning goal.
And finally, Nottingham cemented their position behind league leaders Newcastle with a 25-17 win at Meadow Lane on Sunday.
In front of the Sky TV cameras, the hosts gained revenge for Bedford’s 14th minute injury time win at Goldington Road in October.
And it could have been a lot worse for Bedford, had the eagle-eyed TMO not annulled three Nottingham tries.
The home side took an 18-0 lead into the dressing room at the interval with tries from man of the match Tim Streather, Sean Romans and a penalty try.
The Blues bounced back after the break with a Josh Bassett try, converted by James Pritchard, to add to his earlier penalty.
In the final minute, replacement James Stephenson crossed for the visitors, but even with Jake Sharp’s conversion, Bedford headed home empty-handed.
All this action leaves the Championship table looking like this…
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