By Richard Grainger
It was all change in the GKIPA Championship with a shock first defeat for the leaders and a spectacular first win for the bottom-placed side. And with Bristol suffering their second consecutive loss, four clubs now sit in behind the Exiles on 33 points.
Terrible tackling spells trouble for top clubs
Bristol 22, Leeds Carnegie 28
Two losing bonus points did little to soften the blow as director of Rugby Andy Robinson blamed Bristol’s poor tackling for his side’s first home defeat of the season. “You have to make the tackles,” said Robinson, “if you don’t, you won’t stop opposition teams scoring — it’s as simple as that.”
But it could have been a lot worse as Carnegie led by 5-21 shortly before the break, and when Ben Harris rumbled over in the second half to bag a bonus point, Leeds looked home and dry at 10-28.
It needed a touchline conversion by Adrian Jarvis, following George Watkins’ last-gasp try, to bring up Bristol’s second bonus point and leave the hosts with a scoreline that flattered their lacklustre defensive performance.
Frantic finish leaves Blues on top
Bedford Blues 28, London Welsh 26
A staggering 20 points were scored in the last three minutes of this pulsating encounter at Goldington Road on Saturday.
“An excellent advert for the Championship,” was an elated head coach Mike Rayer’s summary after he had seen the lead switch three times in as many minutes. Jake Sharp received a kindly bounce to break away for the try that looked to have sealed the hosts’ third win in the 80th minute only for Alex Davies to touch down seconds later. Davies’ conversion attempt would have seen the Exiles leaving with a draw but it drifted wide and they left with only a losing bonus point.
“We lost the game purely on woeful missed tackles,” said head coach Justin Burnell. “We’re obviously disappointed, but it wasn’t going to happen.” He added: “Against Bristol we didn’t miss those tackles but today we did and hence we lost the game.”
Turnovers place Trailfinders on path to recovery
Jersey 18, Ealing Trailfinders 28
If Ealing are to have any chance of Championship survival, this was a game they had to win, and they won it in some style, securing a try bonus point at St. Peter.
It looked like another hard day at the office as the visitors conceded 12 points within the first quarter before they capitalised on the first of two turnovers. Tom Bedford crossed to reduce the arrears to 12-7 before Phil Chesters scored a brace of second half tries and put Andrew Henderson in to notch the bonus point. This leaves Ealing a mere six points adrift at the foot of the table.
Albion lose again at home
Plymouth Albion 17, Rotherham 28
Albion’s faithful have had little to cheer about at Brickfields as their team has yet to register a home win this season. It never looked likely either on Friday night as the Titans, who are enjoying fine form this season, were always in control and won more convincingly than the three-try all count suggests.
Mantella adds to Mose woes
London Scottish 38, Moseley 17
Head coach Kevin Maggs considered that the scoreline flattered the Exiles but the 12 points given away from scrum penalties tells it’s own story.
A Miles Mantella hattrick and tries from skipper Mark Bright and Olly Grove underlined the hosts’ dominance based on the power of their pack at the Athletic Ground on Saturday.
Nottingham notch late draw
Nottingham 27, Cornish Pirates 27
There was no let up to a scintillating weekend of Championship action with a 27-27 draw at Meadow Lane on Sunday.
Despite dominating both possession and territory in the first half, the Green and Whites were unable to pull clear of the Cornishmen who held the upper hand after the break.
It looked as if the visitors had done enough when Rob Elloway barged over with three minutes remaining, for the visitors’ third try. Keiran Hallett added the extras but Nottingham replacement Matt Jarvis kicked a last minute penalty to make it honours even.
And finally, the GK IPA Championship takes another break as the second tier clubs return to British & Irish Cup action this weekend, continuing through for the next fortnight.