London Irish profited from Ealing Trailfinders' defeat in Round 9 against Nottingham to move to the top of the Greene King IPA Championship and the leaders can extend their advantage this Saturday.
TRU's Connor Hickinbottom takes a look back at last weekend's result and previews the opening fixture of November between London Irish and Jersey Reds.
Nottingham 42-27 Ealing Trailfinders
Nottingham put an end to Ealing Trailfinders’ seven game winning streak with a stunning victory in the Midlands.
The Green & Whites made history as tries from Murray McConnell, Will Millet, Jake Farnworth, Jack Spittle (2) as well as 17-points from the boot of Shane O’Leary secured a fourth win on the bounce at Lady Bay for the first time ever.
Ealing, despite making a positive start to the game, struggled to control a rampant Nottingham side who were clinical with their chances.
A superb try from Spittle got the game running for the hosts as the winger finished excellently under pressure in the corner to give Nottingham the lead. Ealing struck back as Jordan Reid powered over from close range.
FT and the #GreenNWhites win a record four games in a row at The Bay! What a win against the league leaders! Final score - 42-27! COME ON YOU GREEN AND WHITES!— Nottingham Rugby (@NottinghamRugby) October 26, 2018
Nottingham regained the lead with another splendid try, this time coming from McConnell who finished off an excellent break from Billy Robinson. Their lead was increased further as O’Leary slotted his first penalty of the afternoon to make it 15-7.
The game continued at breakneck speed as Kieran Murphy broke through to score for Ealing, putting them within a point, only for Nottingham to capitalise on a poor piece of play from the visitors gifting Millet a try. Ealing grabbed a further try, scored by Craig Willis, and a penalty to secure a 24-22 lead at the break.
Peter Lydon slotted a drop goal for the Trailfinders shortly after the interval, but that was it for Ealing as Nottingham turned the game on it’s head.
The hosts put 20 unanswered points past the Trailfinders to earn an incredible victory. Tried from Spittle and Farnworth were accompanied by a further 10 points from O’Leary which included a drop goal to round off the game.
Jersey Reds 28 - 21 Richmond
Jersey made it five straight victories as they fought back to overcome a tough Richmond outfit.
The visitors made a blistering start as they went 14-0 inside 10 minutes. Luc Jones and Myles Scott dotted down for the converted scores as ‘Mond capitalised on some poor discipline from the hosts.
Spurred on by Richmond’s exceptional start, the Reds began their fightback and were back level after just 20 minutes thanks to two quick scores of their own. Nick Selway powered over from the back of a strong lineout drive before an excellent try from Calum Waters levelled up the scores as the scrum-half sprinted in from 30 metres out after a powerful initial break from Koch Marx.
There was a slight lull in proceedings as both sides struggled to break down their opposition despite numerous chances.
It wasn’t until the hour mark that the 1,400 in attendance were treated to a fifth try. Fortunately, for the home fans, it was Jersey who scored and it was to be another two in quick succession. Replacement scrum-half Will Homer found a gap in the ‘Mond defence to score and just minutes later, the Reds were in again as Marx grabbed a well deserved try, racing in for the bonus-point score.
There was a late try for Richmond as the visitors pack performed valiantly to earn themselves a penalty try and the losing bonus-point. The away side continued to push for an equaliser, but were held off by the in form Reds.
Bedford Blues 26 - 24 Hartpury College
Bedford Blues managed to avoid a late upset as they stole a victory from Hartpury at the death.
Sam Leeming missed what would have been a game-winning penalty for Hartpury meaning the Blues 76th minute try was just enough to secure the win.
Hartpury went into this fixture on the back of four straight defeats and immediately went on the offensive, desperate to get back to winning ways. Their efforts were rewarded instantly as James Stephenson dotted down after three minutes for an unconverted score.
The Blues made an immediate response as Dean Adamson raced into the corner. Will Hooley added the extras for the Blues, a feat that Hartpury struggled to achieve throughout.
Bedford paid the price for some early ill-discipline as Huw Worthington was shown yellow for an infraction at the lineout. Hartpury made the man advantage count straight away as Dan Murphy powered over but once again the conversion was wayward.
And thats it. Blues win 26-24— Bedford Blues (@BedfordBluesRFC) October 27, 2018
Hooley levelled the scores as he grabbed his second of the afternoon as the Blues started to find their rhythm.
It was then Hartpury’s turn to have a man sent to the sin bin as Rupert Harden was penalise and that allowed Bedford in for a third try. Josh Buggea powered his way over from close range to make it 19-12 at the break.
Hartpury added a further two tries in the second-half through Ed Sheldon and Stephenson which was converted by Leeming to build up a deserved 24-19 lead.
The visitors’ outstanding second-half performance looked certain to be rewarded with a victory, but on the 76th minute, Tadgh McElory powered over from a strong line-out drive. Hooley added the extras and the Blues were back in the lead.
There was still time for Hartpury to secure a much-needed victory and with the game in overtime, they got their opportunity. Unfortunately, for Hartpury, it wasn’t to be the fairy tail ending as Leeming’s penalty sailed wide and they were forced to settle for a losing and try bonus point.
Coventry 20 - 15 Yorkshire Carnegie
Coventry added more woe to Yorkshire Carnegie’s season, inflicting a seventh straight defeat on the Leeds-based outfit.
A try either side of the break, scored by Max Trimble and Charlie Beech, as well as 10 points from the boot of Will Maisey was enough to secure four-points for the Championship new boys.
The hosts grabbed an early lead as Maisey notched his first penalty of the afternoon only to fall behind shortly after as Peter Lucock crashed through the Cov defence for a converted try.
Carnegie’s lead was a brief one. The in-form Trimble raced onto a kick from Andy Bulumakau to go over in the corner to record his fourth try in three games.
The lead was now firmly in Coventry’s grasp and they would not give it up from this point, furthering their advantage to 12-7 on the brink of half-time with another Maisey penalty.
Yorkshire kept up the fight after the break and were back within three as Chris Elder slotted his only penalty of the afternoon.
A second try for the hosts left Carnegie with an uphill battle with 10 minutes remaining as Charlie Beech benefitted from some powerful work from the Cov forwards to make it 20-10.
There was still time on the clock for Carnegie to cause problems for their hosts and when Andy Forsyth broke from 40 metres out for an excellent score, they may have thought the comeback was on. Unfortunately, for Carnegie, Coventry’s defence remained firm to shut out their visitors and record their fourth victory out of five at Butts Park Arena.
London Irish 38 - 29 Cornish Pirates
London Irish’s perfect start to the season remained intact as they recorded a six try victory over Cornish Pirates.
It wasn’t plain sailing for the Exiles as they saw their 26-8 lead at half-time diminish as the Pirates mounted a valiant fightback.
The Exiles’ forwards took the plaudits in the first half as tries from Josh McNally, Teofilo Paulo and Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, accompanied by a score from winger Ollie Hassell-Collins, wrapped up the bonus-point in the first half.
Cornish were able to get onto the board in the first-half as Robin Wedlake broke through the Irish defence to add to a Will Cargill penalty.
FULL-TIME: London Irish 38 - 29 @CornishPirates1— London Irish (@LiRFC) October 27, 2018
Second half tries from @brendanmckibbin and another from @JoshJMcNally mean the Exiles unbeaten run continues and we move to top of the table! Thank you for the outstanding support today! pic.twitter.com/oNh6W8p3hJ
The hosts added a fifth try after the break through Brendan McKibbin as the centre bundled over under the posts.
The Pirates, who had suffered back-to-back defeats before this fixture, were starting to gain some traction in the game as Kyle Moyle dotted down for the visitors’ second try of the afternoon.
Momentum had shifted and two yellow cards for Irish’s Bryce Campbell and Blair Cowan looked to turn the game on its head in favour of the Pirates. The visitors were awarded a penalty try for Cowan’s infraction but were ultimately unable to make their two-man advantage count.
Cornish continued to believe the comeback was there for the taking. This belief was rewarded when Moyle darted in for the try bonus point to make it 33-29 with under 10 minutes remaining.
But, the dreams of a comeback were shattered when Pirates captain Brett Beukeboom was shown a yellow-card. Irish showed their visitors how to profit from a man-advantage as McNally grabbed his second with the last play of the game.
London Scottish 20 - 36 Doncaster Knights
Doncaster Knights got back to winning ways in a 10-try thriller at the Athletic Ground.
Despite coming into the game on the back of five straight defeats, the Knights did not look like a team void of confidence, scoring six tries including a hat-trick from winger Curtis Wilson.
It was Scottish who recorded the first score as Miles Mantella intercepted a wayward pass metres from his own try line to race off downfield for the score.
The Knights responded instantly as scrum-half Tom James was put into the corner for a converted try following a powerful break from Josh Tyrell.
Scottish replied through Mantella once more as the winger was the first to react to a lose ball before he raced in for another fantastic individual try.
The first-half continued in a back-and-forth fashion and it was the Knights this time who grabbed an interception score. Steve McColl dotted down to make it 14-10 to the Knights for all of two minutes, before Scottish’s Joe Luca Smith collected a kick for an unconverted try.
Donny pulled away after two quick tries just before the break. Nick Civetta powered over from close range before Curtis Wilson sprinted in from halfway to give the Knights a 24-15 lead.
The Exiles wrapped up the try bonus point through Smith, closing the gap to just four points. There was to be no further joy for the hosts as they were undone by the excellent Wilson. The winger cut the Scottish apart for two further tries to wrap up the win and record his hat-trick.
Jersey Reds v London Irish
Jersey Reds play host to the league-leaders London Irish in the only game this weekend.
The Reds have won five successive matches and will be hoping to extend that form in what will be their toughest test of the season so far.
London Irish are unbeaten this season and deservedly sit at the top of the table, recording six try bonus points in the process.
We're looking forward to seeing you too Matt! And intending to mobilise a few of our own supporters! ?? ???? ?? https://t.co/PNKzjy8JD6— Jersey Reds (@jerseyrfc) November 1, 2018
Irish will be looking to get some sort of revenge on their hosts. The Reds were the only team to beat Irish in the 2016/17 season, recording a 15-11 victory at St Peter.
Jersey are renowned for being outstanding at home and will be looking to inflict a first defeat of the season on their visitors. The Reds made a slow start to the season but have since hit their stride and have charged up the table.
It is certain to be a thrilling encounter but not necessarily a high scoring one. Jersey boast a resilient defence that are even harder to break down when at home but they will have to contain an Irish side that are capable of scoring from anywhere on the pitch.
This is a huge test for both sides and one that could go either way.
Prediction: Jersey by 3.