Round two of the Greene King IPA Championship saw the normal service resume following last week’s curtain-raising double-header weekend spread across three neutral venues.
In the first of many Friday night games at Mennaye Field this season, Cornish Pirates were unable to capitalise on last week’s defeat of Bristol as they fell 20-27 to Leeds Carnegie, who themselves bounced back after an opening round defeat to Nottingham.
Leeds, who achieved their first win in the Duchy since 2008, secured a bonus point win over the Pirates despite trailing 10-0 early on. A try from captain Gavin Cattle and a penalty from Kieran Hallett had the home fans optimistic early on but James Lowes’ men pegged them back with a fine attacking display but were made to sweat when a late try from Tom Kessell gave the Pirates hope of a draw but it wasn’t to be.
The other Friday night game saw Plymouth Albion squander a 31-6 lead as they drew 34-34 with Moseley in a classic encounter at Brickfields.
Tries by Dan Mugford, Heath Stevens, Sam Matavesi and Tom Bowen put Albion 25 points up after just 34 minutes as they looked set to coast home with all five points for the second week in a row after last week’s 41-27 defeat of Jersey. A try late in the first half from Moseley’s Rhys Buckley reduced the arrears slightly but the writing looked on the wall.
Moseley couldn’t take advantage of Plymouth’s ill-discipline as yellow cards for Toby Howley-Berridge in the first half and Sam Matavesi in the second saw Plymouth play a quarter of the match a man down.
But with the score 34-20 and five minutes left on the clock, Moseley snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat. A try from Anthony Carter, which was converted by fly-half Ollie Thomas, looked to have secured a losing bonus point for the Midlands outfit but within a minute of the restart a fine individual try from wing Matt Williams and a clutch conversion from Thomas secured the unlikeliest of draws.
Rotherham Titans ran in 10 tries against Ealing Trailfinders on their way to a 77-9 victory on Saturday as they continue to raise eyebrows throughout the league.
Still without fly-half and captain Garry Law, the Titans were spearheaded by Juan Pablo Socino, who produced another stand-out performance with 32 points to his name as they ran Ealing ragged in their first visit to Rotherham’s Clifton Lane. Tougher tests await Lee Blackett and his side but their early season form is impressive.
Jersey produced something of an upset as they beat much-fancied Bedford Blues 26-14 in the other Saturday fixture.
Bedford, who are now two losses from two and 11th in the Championship standings, produced an error-strewn display and were duly punished by a spirited Jersey team. A try from winger Ed Dawson gave the Islanders a narrow lead after two penalties from Blue fly-half James Pritchard. Jersey’s lead was then extended after flanker Fred Silcock crossed the whitewash.
Another penalty and a try from Pritchard gave the clumsy Blues hope as that made the score 20-14 at the break. Two second half penalties from Jersey’s Niall O’Connor were enough to see them achieve a superb result.
All eyes were on former Jersey star Michael Le Bourgeois upon his introduction for Bedford late on but he was unable to inspire his new team to a comeback as Jersey ran out deserved winners.
Bristol bounced back from their opening round defeat to Cornish Pirates with a bonus-point win at home to London Scottish on Sunday.
Bristol’s Marco Mama went over for the home side after Luke Eves’ offload but London Scottish levelled things up through winger Miles Mantella. A drop-goal from fly-half Lee Millar edged the Exiles ahead just before half time. The Memorial Stadium fans were left frustrated as Bristol trailed 7-10 at the break despite nearly all of the first half being played in the Scottish half. There was plenty of endeavour and attacking intent from Andy Robinson’s men but no cutting edge – a characteristic of last year’s squad.
Bristol’s forward dominance began to tell though as a penalty try was awarded after London Scottish’s scrum collapsed a metre from their try line giving referee Greg MacDonald no choice. James Merriman’s second try of the season and Glen Townson’s late score secured the bonus-point for Bristol to get their season up and running.
London Welsh made it two wins from two with a 19-46 victory away to Nottingham at Meadow Lane.
A tight first half saw the Exiles lead 15-9 thanks to the boot of Gordon Ross, with Matthew Jarvis on target three times for the Green and Whites.
Nottingham closed to within a point of Welsh thanks to an unconverted try from winger Edward Styles early in the second half but tries from the Exiles’ back-row Carl Kirwan, wings Rhys Crane and Seb Stegmann and recent signing Dante Mama were enough to see Justin Burnell’s side go second in the table.
By Rich Elkins
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images