With comfortable wins for the top four clubs cementing their play-off slots, attention turns to the titanic struggle for survival at the foot of the Greene King IPA Championship table.
By Richard Grainger
Ealing earn chance of reprieve
Ealing Trailfinders 37, Nottingham 35
Ealing looked dead and buried three weeks ago, but this fine win against Nottingham leaves them just three points behind Jersey, who were put to the sword at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.
To make things even better for the west Londoners, they picked up a try bonus point in this four-try apiece thriller at Vallis Way.
Ealing looked to have put daylight between themselves and the Green and Whites, leading 37-23 going into the last 10 minutes, before Tom Calladine and Harrison Lee-Everton crossed for the visitors. But when Matt Jarvis’ attempt struck the upright and stayed wide, Ealing were able to run the clock down. But these late scores, when Ealing were reduced to 14 men meant that Nottingham, who are not entirely disengaged from the relegation dogfight, travelled home with two vital bonus points.
Ealing look forward to hosting play-off bound Rotherham next Saturday, who won 79-9 back in September at Clifton Lane, and then a trip to Plymouth for the final round of matches. One win will be enough to keep then in the second tier unless Jersey can take a four-pointer from either London Scottish or Bedford.
Bristol beat the Billesley Bogey
Moseley 24, Bristol 33
Bristol notched their eleventh consecutive victory in the GKIPA Championship, ending a run of four winless trips to Billesley Common. Following their usual script, Bristol permitted Mose – cast in the role of Lazarus – to rise from the dead with a second half comeback that brought a collective sigh of relief from had the visiting support, come the final whistle.
With an interval lead of 7-26 and the bonus pint in the bag, Bristol allowed the Midlanders to cross for three tries and to come within eight points of a major upset.
After four tries in the opening quarter, director of rugby Andy Robinson had every expectation of a rout, but Moseley had other ideas.
“Our discipline was poor and that’s an area that let us down on Saturday,” said Robinson. “We will look at that because we conceded too many penalties in that second half.” Bristol welcome both London Welsh and the Sky cameras to the Memorial Ground on Good Friday, kick off 7.45pm.
Two in a row as Carnegie class shows
Leeds 40, Plymouth 14
It was a case of deja vue for Plymouth at Headingley on Sunday. Albion shipped 40 points against a Carnegie outfit who look a good outside bet for promotion, for the second time in eight days.
Leeds, who led 28-0 at the interval, and in all ran in six tries against Albion, now face a tricky trip to Rotherham, also in from of the cameras on Saturday, with kick off at 5.15pm. This could well be a dress rehearsal for the play-off semi for both clubs.
High five for Exiles as Bright thwarts the Blues
London Scottish 19, Bedford 15
Despite No8 Mark Bright’s fine individual try two minutes from time that gave Scottish the lead for the first time at the Athletic Ground on Sunday, the Exiles now cannot progress to the play-offs. However, they are assured of fifth place, which will be their highest Championship finish to date.
In a scrappy game where both sides eschewed conditions perfect for adventurous rugby, Bedford held a 15-7 lead in the final quarter, thanks to tries from Pat Tapley and Brendan Burke, before Sam Stuart finished off a trademark driving maul and Bright nicked it at the death.
Titans pace punishes tiring Pirates
Cornish Pirates 20, Rotherham 40
Despite leading 20-7 shortly before the interval at the Mennaye Field on Sunday, Pirates were unable to dispel the blues from the previous week’s late defeat at the hands of Pontypridd in the British & Irish Cup. Rotherham upped the pace in the final quarter, adding a further five tries against a visibly wilting Pirates outfit.
Relegation worries deepen for Islanders
London Welsh 45, Jersey 7
Relegation battlers Jersey were unable to build on a 3-7 lead at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday, as the Exiles underlined the gulf in class between the top and the bottom of the division, running in six tries in the process.
This was Welsh’s seventh GKIPA Championship win on the bounce with two tries from John Quill and one each from Joe Ajuwa, Tyson Keats, Matt Corker, and Toby L’Estrange, and sets them up nicely for Friday’s trip to Bristol.
Don’t forget there’s plenty of action GKIPA Championship action on telly this Easter weekend!