AFTER THREE weeks of Championship rugby it’s beginning to look as if the sides promoted and relegated to this division may have booked a return ticket back to where they came from, writes Richard Grainger.
Much to the annoyance of Moseley Head Coach Kevin Maggs, there had been media speculation last week that this mid-September clash in the Channel Islands might be a relegation decider.
With both sides failing to impress in their early encounters, the importance of this match could not be underestimated, and Moseley’s 15-31 victory now leaves the Channel-Islanders cut-adrift at the bottom.
“I’m very proud of my boys,” Kevin Maggs told the Jersey club website, “I knew this would be a tough game, with Jersey having a great home record,” he said. “It’s a long way to come, but the travel worked out fine and we had a great start.”
But Moseley were far from convincing. It was two tries apiece until the final minute when Charlie Hayter scored his third to extend the 12-point lead that the Midlanders had held throughout the second period. Ollie Thomas kicked four penalties and two conversions for the visitors in reply to tries from Donovan Sanders and Glenn Bryce.
Lack of discipline with a yellow card for Kingsley Lang for foul play and an 11-3 penalty count didn’t help Jersey’s cause.
Jersey’s Donovan Sanders said: “We were on the back foot and there were lots of mistakes – you have to look after the ball at this level.”
At the other end of the table at Kingston Park, Newcastle Falcons continued their perfect start to what they hope will be a brief sojourn in the Championship.
On Friday night a crowd of over 4,000 watched Newcastle patiently wear down a stubborn Doncaster side. The Falcons left it late to collect their fifteenth point from three matches with tries from Mark Wilson and, deep into injury time, a fine solo effort from Jimmy Gopperth, adding to an earlier penalty try and a series of pick and drives finished off by John Golding.
The Knights considered themselves unlucky with some of referee Mr Ian Tempest’s decisions, which resulted in yellow cards for props Brian McGovern and Andy Brown, a penalty try and a host of penalties, three of which Gopperth converted.
At Goldington Road, winger James Stephenson scored a hatrick as Bedford Blues ran in eight tries to beat London Scottish 55-20 on Saturday. Director of Rugby Mike Rayer had made nine changes, one of which was to give the ex-Blackheath man his first start in Bedford colours
The Exiles’ pack held the ascendency in the first period and the Blues led by just five points at the break. Former Esher centre Mark Atkinson also scored his debut try for the Blues. However, despite being reduced to 14 men for ten minutes, it was pretty much one-way traffic in the second period with the Blues rampant.
At Brickfields on Saturday Leeds left with a try and a losing bonus point. However, Carnegie coach Diccon Edwards saw it as three points lost as he watched Joe Ford’s injury time conversion attempt, which would have won it for the visitors, sail wide.
Leeds scored five tries to Albion’s four, losing 32-31 and held the lead for long periods of the game, but Plymouth, who are much improved this season, refused to go quietly into the night.
On Sunday Bristol extended their winning record against the Cornish Pirates at the Memorial Stadium, pulling away to win 29-17 after turning round just 13-9 ahead in front of the largest Championship crowd of the weekend.
And finally, on Sunday at Meadow Lane, Rotherham Titans proved too strong for the hosts winning 16-27, courtesy of a penalty try, a try from Eamonn Sheridan and the remaining 17 points from the boot of James McKinney.
So after three weeks, this leaves things looking like this…
Follow Richard Grainger on Twitter @maverickwriter