Greene King IPA Championship newcomers Doncaster Knights are the only team to boast a perfect record – 10 points from a possible 10 – after the opening two weekends of action in the British & Irish Cup.
Paul Jarvis raced home for a hat-trick of tries last Saturday as Doncaster’s flying start to the season continued with a thrilling 29-25 win at home to Cornish Pirates, watched by a crowd of 1,374.
All bar one of the six British & Irish Cup ties hosted by an English Championship club in round 2 attracted four-figure gates, Worcester Warriors earning top honours with an impressive attendance of 6,916 – the second highest gate in the competition’s history – for the visit of Munster ‘A’.
And a big attendance is expected at Sardis Road in round 3 as the top two sides in Pool 1, Pontypridd and Bristol, go head-to-head.
BRITISH & IRISH CUP – ROUND 3 FIXTURES:
Pontypridd (1st) v Bristol (2nd), Saturday, October 25, 2.30pm
Fixtures between Pontypridd and Bristol go back two centuries, to Christmas Day 1899. There have been 23 matches all told, with Bristol winning 16 to Pontypridd’s seven.
The last meeting came at Sardis Road in the 2010/11 British & Irish Cup semi-final when Bristol progressed to the final after a 36-25 win. Pontypridd go into Saturday’s match level on nine points with Bristol at the top of the pool but with a superior points difference.
CONNACHT EAGLES (4th) v London Scottish (3rd), the Sportsground, Saturday, October 25, 2.30pm
The losers of this match will have a mountain to climb in terms of qualifying for the knockout stages. Neither has won a game so far, with Scottish picking up their second losing bonus point of the campaign against Bristol to sit one point ahead of the bottom-placed Connacht Eagles who were well beaten at home to Pontypridd in round 2.
Round 2 Results –
London Scottish 18 Bristol 22
Connacht Eagles 16 Pontypridd 42
POOL 2 –
Yorkshire Carnegie (2nd) v Aberavon (3rd), Saturday, October 25, 2.30pm
Carnegie take on Aberavon at Brantingham Park, home of Hull Ionians, for the second consecutive season in the British & Irish Cup. In last year’s ‘on the road’ game, Josh Griffin grabbed a hat-trick of tries in a 72-0 success for Carnegie, which came after they had beaten the Wizards 41-22 in the away leg.
Carnegie returned to winning ways in round 2, after a three-game losing run, with an impressive 22-17 triumph away to Ulster Ravens. Both sides are on four points going into this weekend’s fixture.
ULSTER RAVENS (4th) v Rotherham Titans (1st), Deramore Park, Friday, October 24, 7pm
Ulsterman James McKinney returns to his native province as Rotherham go in search of their first win on Irish soil in the British & Irish Cup. McKinney was in the Ulster side that came from 12-3 down to win 31-24 at Clifton Lane in December 2011, in the one and only British & Irish Cup tie between these sides. Rotherham top the pool after a 37-13 victory over Aberavon made it two wins from two.
Round 2 Results –
Ulster Ravens 17 Yorkshire Carnegie 22
Rotherham Titans 37 Aberavon 13
Nottingham (4th) v MUNSTER ‘A’ (2nd), Meadow Lane, Friday, October 24, 8pm
Nottingham will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky when Munster ‘A’ come to town after two previous one-point defeats to the Irish province at Meadow Lane. Last season Munster ‘A’ snatched a 17-16 victory from the jaws of defeat after Ronan O’Mahony crossed the whitewash two minutes from time.
The sides have played each other four times in the British & Irish Cup, with 2012 winners Munster ‘A’ victorious on each occasion. Nottingham prop up the pool with one point from two matches, while Mick O’Driscoll’s men are second with five points to their name.
Moseley (3rd) v Worcester Warriors (1st), Saturday, October 25, 3pm
Worcester beat Moseley 23-7 in the second round of the Greene King IPA Championship to extend their long unbeaten run against their near-neighbours. Moseley’s last success against the Warriors was a 22-15 home win on December 9, 2000.
The Warriors make the short trip to Billesley Common as pool leaders with two wins from two, after a near 7,000-strong crowd saw them edge out Munster ‘A’ 27-23 in round 2. Moseley picked up their first win of the season at the seventh attempt when they beat Nottingham 22-14 in round 2.
Round 2 Results –
Moseley 22 Nottingham 14
Worcester Warriors 27 Munster ‘A’ 23
Doncaster Knights (1st) v Bedford Blues (4th), Saturday, October 25, 2.30pm
Pool leaders Doncaster welcome Bedford to Castle Park for the first time since they won promotion back to the English Championship. Memories of their 22-21 defeat to the Blues, in November 2012, are no doubt still fresh in the minds of the locals as the visitors snatched the narrowest of victories that day when Josh Bassett scored after 11 minutes of agonising stoppage time.
Last Saturday it was the Knights who broke opposition hearts after producing a match-winning score with the last play of the game against Cornish Pirates. And it was a similar story in the other fixture as a last-gasp try by captain Leon Andrews handed Cross Keys a 23-22 victory over Bedford at Goldington Road.
Cornish Pirates (2nd) v Cross Keys (3rd), Sunday, October 26, 3pm
Cross Keys avenged a 30-3 defeat to the Pirates at the Mennaye Field with a famous victory on home soil in the semi-final of the 2011/12 British & Irish Cup – the Welsh side’s first year in the competition. Kristian Baller was the Keys hero that day with a brace of tries.
The Pirates’ only defeat in five home matches against Welsh opposition came in the quarter-final of last year’s British & Irish Cup when they lost 16-14 to Pontypridd. Both sides are tied on six points after the first two rounds.
Round 2 Results –
Doncaster Knights 29 Cornish Pirates 25
Bedford Blues 22 Cross Keys 23
Plymouth Albion (4th) v Jersey (2nd), Saturday, October 25, 3pm
Jersey head to Brickfields looking for a hat-trick of wins at Plymouth’s home ground after two previous successes in the English Championship. In each of their last two visits they have scored three tries, winning 30-23 last season and 19-15 in 2012/13.
Albion are bottom of the pool having returned home from Parc y Scarlets pointless following a 29-16 loss to Carmarthen Quins, while in last Friday night’s solitary fixture Jersey went down 26-6 away to reigning champions Leinster ‘A’.
Carmarthen Quins (3rd) v LEINSTER ‘A’ (1st), the Park, Saturday, October 25, 2.30pm
A third straight win for Leinster ‘A’ on Saturday would see them open up a sizeable lead at the top of Pool 5. Two hard-earned victories over Plymouth and Jersey puts Girvan Dempsey’s side on eight points after two rounds. Young out-half Ross Byrne is the competition’s top scorer to date with 29 points (four conversions and seven penalties).
Jersey are second in the pool standings on five points, Quins have four and Plymouth two. Quins have not lost at home this season.
Round 2 Results –
Leinster ‘A’ 26 Jersey 6
Carmarthen Quins 29 Plymouth Albion 16