Worcester Warriors will have to do what no other English side has managed to do in four years of trying and beat Leinster ‘A’ if they are to progress to the final of this season’s British & Irish Cup.
BRITISH & IRISH CUP SEMI-FINALS:
Worcester Warriors v LEINSTER ‘A’, Sixways Stadium, 7.45pm, Friday, March 13
Leinster ‘A’ have won their last 11 matches in the British & Irish Cup against English Championship opposition, and are unbeaten in 17 games – a run that stretches back to a 50-15 quarter-final defeat at the hands of Bedford in March 2011. Worcester became the Blues’ next victims in the semi-finals that year, in what was their only other previous appearance in the cross-border competition.
Leinster ‘A’, meanwhile, are just two wins away from landing a hat-trick of titles, having won the 2013 and 2014 editions. When you measure that pedigree against Worcester’s club record 23-match winning streak, Friday night’s game looks an extremely tough one to call.
Doncaster Knights v Bristol, Castle Park, 2pm, Saturday, March 14
When Bristol prevailed by 27-12 at Castle Park in the English Championship last month it was the West Country club’s eighth win in a row against the Knights. Bristol were never really troubled that day, however previous clashes have been much tighter affairs, Bristol needing late tries from Dwayne Peel and Olly Robinson to save their blushes against the Knights in the first league encounter at Ashton Gate back in November.
In reaching the last-four, Doncaster have matched their previous best performance in the British & Irish Cup: a semi-final loss to eventual winners Cornish Pirates in the inaugural 2009/10 competition.
This is the fourth time in six attempts that Bristol have made the knockout stages. The 2011 champions suffered a semi-final loss at the hands of Leeds Carnegie in last year’s competition.
In the event of a tie at full-time in this weekend’s British & Irish Cup semi-finals, the winners shall be determined by the match result after playing extra-time (10 minutes each way).
If the scores remain tied after extra-time, the team that has scored the most tries in that match (including extra-time) shall be deemed the winners and progress to the final. If the number of tries are equal, the winners of the match will be the away side.
* The British & Irish Cup final will take place at the winners of semi-final two (Doncaster Knights v Bristol) on Friday, April 3, kick-off 5.10pm (live on Sky Sports).