Moseley and Leeds accumulated 74 points at Billesley Common last Saturday in a post-Christmas cracker from which both teams took a try bonus point, writes Richard Grainger.
However, It was the visitors who took maximum points with six tries, all converted by Tommy Bell to seal a pulsating 32-42 win, orchestrated by loan-star George Ford at fly-half.
Ford, brother of Joe and son of former England defensive coach Mike, is the youngest player to take part in a professional club match and is the current IRB Young Player of the Year. On loan from Leicester, Ford scored the try that notched up the bonus point for the visitors and was instrumental in three others. Unfortunately for Leeds, Ford’s immediate commitment will be to help the England U20s win their Six Nations.
Leeds kicked on from a 21-20 interval lead but Moseley were never out of contention and contributed to an enthralling game.
Rotherham lost at Clifton Lane for the first time this season on Saturday having threatened to eclipse London Welsh in the first quarter. Dominant up front in the early stages with a try from prop Rob O’Donnell and a penalty try, they failed to stretch their lead when Robin Copeland spilled the ball with the line at his mercy.
The Exiles fought back from a 20-10 half time deficit as their pack gained the initiative and denied the home side possession at source. Prop Shawn Pitman didn’t let a broken nose slow him down and was singled out for a special mention by coach Lyn Jones.
Trailing by two points with six minutes to go, Alex Davies kicked his second penalty of the half to add to Joseph Ajuwa’s try to put the Exiles ahead for the first time. They finished strongly and banished the ghost of their defeat to Moseley last week.
Second-placed Bedford struggled to live with Doncaster at Castle Park on Saturday except when they had a two-man advantage either side of half-time. The Knights had built a well-deserved 13-0 lead with a Michael Keating try and two David McIlwaine penalties before the Blues replied with an injury time try from Don Barrell, converted by James Pritchard. Bedford’s discipline was little better, and conceding 15 penalties and two yellow cards allowed the home side to pull away and earn a bonus point 33-12 win.
At Richmond on Saturday, Plymouth Albion responded to caretaker coach Nat Saumi’s half time admonitions to bounce back from a 21-0 deficit. Saumi, who took over after Pete Drewett’s short reign ended abruptly at Brickfields last week, was pleased with his side’s second half performance but had to be content with a losing bonus point as Albion went down 21-17.
On Sunday the Cornish Pirates returned to winning ways at the Mennaye Field with a 26-24 win over Nottingham. Rob Cook put the Pirates ahead for the first time with a penalty in the dying minutes. The visitors had threatened to run away with the game, leading 3-17 towards the interval but poor discipline earned them two yellow cards and reduced them to 13 at one stage. Click here to watch the highlights, http://cornish-pirates.com/pirates_tv/eye_player.htm .
Finally, on Sunday a crowd of more than four and a half thousand at the Memorial Stadium watched Bristol crush any hopes that Esher may have held that their recent run of form could see them topple the league leaders.
Bristol ran out comfortable 27-7 winners, and although they couldn’t secure the bonus point, tries from Josh Ovens, Fatua Otto and George Watkins helped to reinforce their domination of the division, and leaves them 11 points clear of Bedford. To see the tries, click here, http://www.bristolrugby.co.uk/news/7489/video-bristol-rugby-vs-esher/
So, after 17 rounds, this leaves the Championship looking like this: http://clubs.rfu.com/Fixtures/MatchByDivision.aspx?DivID=130433319