By Richard Grainger
KICKING OFF this week’s review are Channel Islanders Jersey, who finally leave the bottom of the table after their second consecutive win.
Plymouth, for whom this was their first trip to St. Peter’s, went down 16-14 on Saturday, and have dropped from third to sixth in their last three outings.
James Copsey opened the scoring for the hosts after three minutes before Paul Roberts struck two penalties for Albion. No8 Aaron Carpenter finished off a catch-and-drive and Mike Le Bourgeois struck the first of his three penalties to make it 10-11 at the break.
Roberts and Le Bourgeois traded penalties before the Jersey fly-half kicked the winner with just five minutes to go.
“I’ve got a huge amount of respect for my boys and the hard work they have put in,” Director of Rugby Ben Harvey told the Jersey website. “That work is starting to bring results.”
The Falcons were pushed all the way at Goldington Road on Saturday where the Blues staged a fight back, having turned round a 6-20 score line.
It was two converted tries a-piece, with Jimmy Gopperth’s boot landing four penalties and a drop goal that sent the Falcons home with their eighth straight win.
Head Coach Dean Richards viewed this as the Falcons’ sternest test to date, and rued a second try bonus point dropped. The Blues must consider themselves unlucky not to have emerged from the match with at least a losing bonus point. Any hope of this evaporated when Gopperth’s 77th minute drop goal finally put daylight between the two sides.
“I thought Bedford were a good side and I said before the game that they would be a bigger test for us,” Richards told the Newcastle website. “Yes it was disappointing to have conceded the two tries in the second-half, but we came away with the win and that is the most important thing.”
There were fireworks at Meadow Lane where Nottingham took full advantage of Bedford’s second consecutive defeat to move up to second by virtue of a nine-try demolition of Bristol.
When Remembrance Sunday comes around Jersey will travel to the Memorial Stadium to face Bristol, but they can rest easy after news from Nottingham saw the hosts thrash Bristol 63-7.
All nine were converted by James Arlidge, and with the bonus point secured before the interval, the Green and Whites ran riot in the second half, scoring a further five touchdowns inside a fifteen minute period.
A draw is not an uncommon result in rugby, but to draw against the same side, three years in a row, on the same ground, must be something of a record.
The Cornish Pirates, who were last year’s Championship losing finalists, have only managed one win from their last six league outings. However, by virtue of their third consecutive draw at Billesley Common on Saturday, and their second tie of this season, the Pirates’ fortunes could still go either way.
Despite dominating a game that was pockmarked with 28 penalties, the Cornishmen were unable to convert their 9-0 lead into a platform for victory.
Aaron Penberthy was on target with the boot for the visitors, but Moseley replacement Ollie Thomas chipped away at the lead and tied things up, giving the home side two valuable points.
London Scottish lost at home for the second time on Saturday, going down 14-37 to Leeds.
On the stroke of time, a second David Doherty try secured the bonus point for Carnegie, adding to tries from Oli Goss and Rob Baldwin.
Despite woeful discipline from the visitors, which saw them reduced to 14 men for a quarter of the game, the Exiles’ were never in contention. Head Coach Simon Amor blamed poor game management and decision-making for his side’s inept performance.
And finally, Rotherham appeared unaffected by the departure of coach Andre Bester, defeating Yorkshire neighbours Doncaster 38-20 at Clifton Lane on Saturday.
The Titans scored five tries in a game that was closer than the score suggests.
Alex Codling, a member of England’s ‘one cap’ club, is believed to be the favourite to replace Bester, with former Exeter coach, Peter Drewett, also on a six-candidate shortlist.
Pick of this weekend’s fixtures must be Nottingham’s trip to Kingston Park to tackle the Falcons. Expect more fireworks!
After eight weeks, this leaves things like this: looking like this…