Greene King IPA Championship - All you need to know ahead of Round 7

Topsy Ojo will equal London Irish's appearance record this weekend, joining David Paice on 290.

We are rapidly approaching the Championship Cup which begins in three weeks, but for now, all the attention remains on the Greene King IPA Championship and Connor Hickinbottom as the latest news ahead of Round Seven.

Round Six Review

Doncaster Knights 22 – 47 Jersey Reds

Jersey Reds put in a dominant performance to destroy the Knights with a seven-try victory.

The Reds made it back-to-back wins over Yorkshire-based sides at Castle Park, beating both Carnegie and the Knights within a week.

It was an almost perfect performance from the Reds who controlled from start to finish, limiting the Knights to just three tries whilst showing their own cutting edge.

Jersey got off to the best possible start as their forwards powered over from close range, Leeroy Atalifo the scorer. The Knights response was outstanding as full-back Cameron Cowell picked up a bobbling ball in midfield and set off on a sublime run darting through the onrushing Reds defence to score under the posts.

This standout try was the highlight of the Knights game as the Reds began to dominate. The Reds added another two tries in the first half, through Mark Best and James Newey, with Donny only managing a penalty from the boot of Kurt Morath.

The Reds continued their stranglehold of the game in the second-half, scoring two converted tries, within the first 10 minutes of the half to extend their lead to 32-10. Charlie Maddison and Koch Marx the scorers.

Donny were able to add a try of their own shortly after as Josh Tyrell linked up well with Joel Matavesi, who looked to have been going over for the try only to be stopped inches short, but fortunately Tyrell was on hand to dive over for the Knights.

The visitors defence remained firm for much of the remaining time, only faltering when Dougie Flockhart powered over from close range. Unfortunately, for the Knights, any hope of a late comeback were short lived as the Reds added a further two converted tries through Auguy Slowik and Janco Venter.

Hartpury College 25 – 32 Ealing Trailfinders

Ealing Trailfinders made it five wins in a row, weathering a late comeback from Hartpury College to secure a bonus-point victory. Hartpury scored twice in the final 10 minutes to set up a nail-biting finale at Gillman’s Ground. Unfortunately, for the hosts, it was ultimately too late as the Trailfinders ran out victorious.

Despite an early penalty from the hosts, it was the Trailfinders who dominated proceedings. The visitors scored twice in five minutes as James Cordy Redden dove over in the corner after receiving a sublime pass from Craig Willis. The fly-half once again produced an outstanding assist as he put a delightful grubber kick through for Guy Armitage to finish off.

Hartpury closed the gap as they added another penalty through Sam Leeming to make it 14-6 at the break.

A try from Seb Stegmann after the interval extended Ealing’s lead to 21-6 as the Trailfinders forwards once again showing their prowess near the try-line. It may have taken almost an hour, but Hartpury finally found a way over the whitewash. James Dunn touches down from close range after some good work from the Hartpury forwards.

Ealing grabbed their bonus-point try through Pat Howard shortly after as the centre found a gap in the Hartpury defence for the score. Peter Lydon notched a penalty to give the visitors an 18-point lead, but a late rally from Hartpury set up a grandstand finish.

The hosts forwards once again showed their power as Jake Henry closed the gap to 29-18. Unfortunately, a second Lydon penalty seemingly put the game out of Hartpury’s reach but another late flurry did give the home said a glimmer of hope as James Stephenson went over from close range. However, it was to be too little, too late.

Richmond 22 – 5 Coventry

Richmond stormed to victory over Coventry in a hard-fought win at the Athletic Ground. It was an horrendous afternoon in Richmond which suited the hosts’ game plan a lot more than that of their visitors, who struggled to cut the mistakes out of their game.

‘Mond got off to an outstanding start, which they never let slip, as Will Goodrick- Clarke finished from close range. But, this early action was not a sign of things to come as there was just a singular penalty – from the boot of Rob Kirby – in the remainder of the first half, giving Richmond an 8-0 lead at the break.

It was Coventry who made the brighter start to the second half as Andy Bulumakau finished off in the corner following some excellent play from the visitors. This was as good as it was going to get for Cov who, shortly after their try, saw prop James Gibbons shown a yellow card for foul play.

With the man advantage ‘Mond heaped on the pressure and their hard work was rewarded as captain Jesse Liston went over from the back of a scrum. There was one final try for the hosts as Chris Davies rounded off a dominant performance from the Richmond forwards and Kirby added the conversion to make it 22-5 to seal back-to-back victories for ‘Mond.

Cornish Pirates 36 – 28 Nottingham

The Pirates remain at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship table after an outstanding first-half performance against Nottingham. It was well and truly a game of two halves in Penzance, the Pirates scoring all 36 points within the first half while all but one of Nottingham’s four tries came in the second half.

The Pirates wasted no time in getting the game starting, scoring twice within the first 10 minutes. Tom Duncan and Tom Cowan-Dickie, returning to the Pirates starting XV after missing the Ealing game, made an immediate impact with two converted tries.

A try bonus-point was wrapped up before the end of the first quarter as the Pirates grabbed another two tries, winger Alex O’Meara put on the afterburners for the third before an incredible 95 metre interception try from Kyle Moyle ensured the Pirates would have their sixth try bonus-point of the season.

Will Cargill slotted the only penalty of the game before a Brett Beukeboom try gave the Pirates a 36-0 lead. There was to be some joy for Nottingham before the end of the half as Jordan Coghlan ghosted through the Cornish defence to make it 36-7 at the break.

Whatever Neil Fowkes said to his Nottingham side at half-time certainly worked as the Green & Whites came out firing, scoring three unanswered tries as they searched for a dramatic comeback victory.

Cameron Dolan dotted down on his debut for Nottingham, putting a bit of worry into the home crowd. This was heightened even further when fantastic handling put Billy Robinson clear through for the visitors’ third try of the afternoon.

The Pirates defence was resolute for much of the afternoon, but Nottingham continued to knock on the door and grabbed a fourth try shortly later as Jack Spittle raced down the wing to set up a very tense finish at the Mennaye Field. Unfortunately, for the visitors, it wasn’t to be the fairy-tale ending as the Pirates shut up shop to clinch a hard-fought victory.

London Scottish 17 – 54 London Irish

London Irish made it five wins from five games with an eight-try demolition of London Scottish.

The visitors were in imperious form throughout, showing why they have been so heavily touted as eventual runaway Champions.

Irish struck first as Tom Parton latched onto Stephen Myler’s floated pass to cross in the corner. The hosts responded immediately as Mark Bright crashed over from short-range. It didn’t take long before Irish were back in ascendance. Brendan Macken finished off a delightful passage of play from the visitors’ backline for the converted try.

With two tries now under their belt, Irish went into overdrive, adding a further three tried before the end of the half. Bryce Campbell, Luke McLean and Matt Rogerson secures the try bonus point. London Scottish did kick a penalty through Rory Jennings during this onslaught, meaning they went into the break 35-10 down.

Just as they did in the first 40, Irish came out all guns blazing, dominating their hosts in every area of the game. After Tijuee Uanivi was shown a yellow card, Irish grabbed their sixt as Ofisa Treviranus scored just minutes after coming on.

Irish players were chomping at the bit to get involved in the scoring and Saia Fainga’a was the next player to add his name to the ever-growing try scorer list as the hooker went over from a line-out with the visitors’ making it look far too easy.

It was then Irish’s turn to go down to 14 as Brendan McKibbin committed a professional foul, which allowed Scottish to grab their second try of the game as Henari Veratau slid over. There was still time for another try as Irish grabbed their eighth as Ollie Hoskins scored to round off an outstanding display from London Irish.

Yorkshire Carnegie 21 – 28 Bedford Blues

A superb defensive display saw Bedford Blues inflict a fifth defeat of the season on a struggling Yorkshire Carnegie side. Carnegie have now lost four on the bounce and sit bottom of the table. Their day didn’t start well as Jacob Atkins slotted a penalty for the Blues.

The hosts were determined to make amends for their mistakes. They forced the Blues into errors and were rewarded as Josh Bainbridge went over in the corner.
It was a strong defensive performance from both sides throughout the first-half but, unfortunately for Carnegie, mistakes started to creep in. The Blues were given yet another penalty which they opted to kick for touch and Jarad Williams powered over from the resulting line-out.

Atkins added another penalty before the end of the half to make it 13-7 to the Blues.
Bedford didn’t relinquish this lead during the second period, despite the game opening up slightly more.

That man Atkins added his second penalty of the game to get the second-half up and running before Carnegie once more closed the distance as George Watkins received a deft offload from Andy Forsyth for the converted try.

Bedford started to take over proceedings following Forsyth’s try, extending their lead by 12 points as Ben Cooper grabbed a converted try before Jacob Fields grabbed a further five points.

However, Carnegie were able to salvage something from the game. Superb feet from Dan Temm, who was a standout performer for the Leeds-based side, saw the back-rower cross the whitewash, giving Carnegie a much-needed losing bonus- point.



Bedford Blues vs Doncaster Knights

The Knights travel down to Bedford on the back of three straight defeats, six- points behind the Blues.

Bedford, on the other hand, got back to winning ways in their previous outing as they defeated Donny’s rivals, Yorkshire Carnegie. They will be hoping to do the Yorkshire double this weekend.

Despite the Knights’ poor form, it looks certain to be a difficult game for both sides. The fixtures last year saw a 25-25 draw at Castle Park and a 41-32 victory for Bedford at Goldington Road.

The Bedford fans will be hoping for another home victory which looks certainly plausible. The Blues forwards ran in three tries against Carnegie, an area of the Knights game that they should certainly be able to exploit. Donny conceded seven tries against Jersey, three of which came from the forwards at close range.

If Donny are to challenge their hosts, they must focus on defences. They have shown throughout the season that they can score in a split second – best highlighted by Cameron Cowell in their previous outing – but haven’t looked as solid in defence as they have done in previous seasons.

Prediction – Bedford by 7

Coventry vs London Scottish

Coventry will be hoping to get back to winning ways as they host a London Scottish side coming off the back of a 54-17 defeat.

The hosts are riding a three-game slump, suffering defeats at the hands of Richmond, London Irish and Hartpury College. Cov sit above their visitors in the table, albeit only due to their points difference.
London Scottish, themselves, could enter the game short of confidence.

They were put to the sword by London Irish as they conceded eight tries and they will be hoping a fixture against the new boys will bring with it a big victory.

Coventry have already shown they aren’t here just to make up numbers. They went close against both London Irish and Hartpury just falling short at the death, but a disappointing 22-5 defeat against Richmond means they are closing in on a month without a victory.

A return to Butts Park Arena should play into Coventry’s hands. They have looked outstanding at home at parts this season and they are buoyed by a lively crowd relishing every moment back in the Championship.

Prediction – Coventry by 12

Ealing Trailfinders vs Richmond

Ealing will look to extend their unbeaten streak to six games when they host Richmond.

The Trailfinders look like they are almost back to their best. They sit two points behind league leaders Cornish Pirates and have put on some outstanding performances.

Richmond, themselves, are also in fine form. They have won their past two games after dominating both Coventry and Hartpury College to notch two impressive victories.

Ealing should have too much for Richmond, especially at home, but if ‘Mond perform the way they have been doing over the past two weeks, anything is possible.

It is a necessity that Richmond find a way to shut down Ealing’s outstanding offload game, something that has yet to be done in their past five games. It has been a major factor in the Trailfinders’ ability to open defences with ease.

Whilst Ealing have looked incredible going forward, they have shown that they are open to conceding. They have shipped 157 points so far this season, something they will certainly be working on tirelessly to rectify.

Prediction: Ealing by 10

Jersey Reds vs Cornish Pirates

Cornish Pirates travel to Jersey after an incredible start to the season.

The Pirates have won five of their opening six games, gaining a try bonus-point in all six matches and a losing bonus-point in their lone defeat. This outstanding start to the season has left them two points clear at the top of the table.

Jersey have had a difficult beginning to the campaign, losing their first three games. Their luck changed with a return to home which the Reds then followed up with a victory at Castle Park over Doncaster Knights.

They will be hoping another game at the Stade Santander International will bring with it another victory but they will have to stop a free scoring Cornish side at the top of their game.

The Pirates have struggled in the past when travelling to Jersey, but in this current form, it is almost guaranteed to be a high scoring affair.

Prediction: Pirates by 12

London Irish vs Yorkshire Carnegie

Unbeaten London Irish host struggling Yorkshire Carnegie in a must win game for Carnegie. The Leeds-based side sit rock bottom of the Championship with just a single win from their first six games.

Irish, in comparison, have won all five of their matches and more often than not, they have done so in dominant fashion. In just two games, Irish have been able to almost equal the entire amount of points Carnegie have scored.

It has the potential to be a very long afternoon for Carnegie. The Exiles look unstoppable to date and can score from absolutely anywhere on the pitch whereas Carnegie look frail defensively - A very different story from seasons past.

This would be the perfect game for Carnegie to turn their season around. They have the skill to achieve the victory, but it would rely on all aspects of their game coming together at once, something they haven’t been able to achieve yet this season.

Prediction: Irish by 23


Nottingham vs Hartpury

Rounding off the weekend action is Nottingham vs Hartpury. Both sides come into Sunday’s games on the back of narrow defeats to the top two sides in the league, Cornish Pirates and Ealing Trailfinders, with both proving they can perform against high level opposition.

Despite putting together several good performances, Hartpury have only notched two victories so far this season. They sit in 11th place, seven points behind their hosts Nottingham.

Hartpury will need to turn good performances into clinical displays if they hope to beat Nottingham and avoid three defeats in a row.

The Green & Whites have recovered from an initially poor start to the season to win three of four games.

Nottingham have looked solid when playing at Lady Bay this season, despite a narrow defeat to Bedford Blues in their opening game of the campaign, they will be hoping to extend this impressive home form with a victory over Hartpury.

Prediction: Nottingham by 13