RFU Championship Round Nine preview

Bedford Blues
Bedford Blues

Doncaster will be hoping to replicate last season’s form against Bedford when the Blues travel to Castle Park on Friday evening.

The Knights won the corresponding fixture 33-12 and held their opponents to an 18-18 draw at Goldington Road.

Brett Davey’s men will be going all out for a win after slipping to the foot of the table following their 38-20 loss away to local rivals Rotherham in Round Eight.

Plymouth take on London Scottish at Brickfields. The losing side achieved a bonus point in each of last season’s fixtures between Albion and the Exiles, with the Devon outfit recording a 29-25 win in front of their own supporters.

For the second week running Newcastle face their nearest challengers in the league, as they welcome in-form Nottingham to Kingston Park in the third Friday night fixture.

Having beaten Bedford, 29-20 at Goldington Road, they will be looking to keep the second-placed Green & Whites at arm’s length.

However, Nottingham are looking as sharp as any outfit, their 63-7 thrashing of Bristol making it three bonus-point wins on the bounce at Meadow Lane.

Like many sides in the Championship, this will be Nottingham’s first league meeting with Newcastle since the 1996-97 season – the year that the Falcons won promotion to the Premiership and Nottingham were relegated to level three.

Sixteen years ago a second-half hat-trick from replacement scrum-half, Steve Bates, helped the north-east side to a 53-17 win at Kingston Park.

Fellow scrum-half Gary Armstrong went one better in Nottingham’s home game, running in four tries in a 74-29 win at Beeston.

With no Championship games scheduled for Saturday, the remaining three fixtures fall on the Sabbath. Leeds Carnegie are ‘on the road’ again, as they entertain Moseley at Wharfedale RUFC.

Last season Leeds beat Moseley by the narrowest of margins, winning 22-21 thanks to the boot of former full-back Tommy Bell.

George Ford proved to be Moseley’s nemesis at Billesley Common, capping the briefest of loan spells at the Yorkshire club with a virtuoso display in a 42-32 win for Leeds.

Rotherham handed caretaker Head Coach, Lee Blackett, a winning start to his temporary spell in charge of the side with victory over Doncaster.

Backing it up at Cornish Pirates will be tough, especially as the Titans have only won two of the last 10 fixtures between the sides, and both of those were at home.

However, the Pirates have been slow to find their stride this season, Saturday’s draw at Moseley – incredibly the third year in a row that the fixture has ended all-square – means they have won only once in their last six games.

Sunday’s remaining game sees Bristol at home to a Jersey side buoyed by their second league win of the season. The Islanders beat Plymouth 16-14 to move off the bottom of the table for the first time since Round Two.