Thursday, 16 October 2014

British & Irish Cup round 2 preview

Bristol Rugby set a new attendance record for a British & Irish Cup match with a crowd of 7,640 turning up at Ashton Gate on Sunday to see the Greene King IPA Championship pacesetters maintain their winning start to the season with a 50-34 victory against Connacht Eagles.

It was also a day for Olly Robinson to remember as he scored a hat-trick on his competitive debut for the West Country club.

Bristol feature in one of three all-Championship tie in Round 2 when they take on London Scottish at The Athletic Ground on Saturday afternoon. Elsewhere, Moseley host Nottingham and Doncaster Knights get an early chance to avenge their league loss to the Cornish Pirates earlier this month when they host the Duchy outfit at Castle Park for the second time in a fortnight.

Pontypridd and Aberavon, the two Welsh sides to enjoy winning starts, are both on their travels in Round 2 – to Connacht and Rotherham respectively. Cross Keys are on the road too, with a trip to Bedford, while Carmarthen Quins are at home to struggling Plymouth Albion.

Of the four Irish provinces only Munster A are drawn away in Round 2, Mick O'Driscoll's side facing a tough trip to Worcester. Connacht Eagles, Ulster Ravens and Leinster A all enjoy home advantage.

Connacht Eagles v Pontypridd, Sunday October 19, KO 14:30
Pontypridd put last season's agonising semi-final defeat to Leinster A behind them with a win over London Scottish on the opening weekend. Connacht shipped a half-century of points away to Bristol. Connacht have beaten Welsh opposition twice in six attempts in the B&I Cup, with victories over Cross Keys and Llanelli in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They have never played Pontypridd before though.

London Scottish v Bristol Rugby, Saturday October 18, KO 15:00
Bristol remain unbeaten this season after their clinical eight-try display against the Eagles in Round 1. Scottish claimed a losing bonus point away to Pontypridd for the second season running. All seven Championship meetings between these sides have gone the way of Bristol, the West Country side averaging 37 points per game during that period.

Bristol Rugby 50 Connacht Eagles 34
Pontypridd 23 London Scottish 17

Ulster Ravens v Yorkshire Carnegie, Saturday October 18, KO 14:00
Both the Ravens and Yorkshire Carnegie will be looking to set the record straight after beginning their B&I Cup campaigns with disappointing losses. Yorkshire Carnegie have yet to beat an Irish side in the B&I Cup, losing two and drawing one of their three fixtures against Leinster A. Carnegie's most recent trip to the Emerald Isle came in the final of last year's competition when they were beaten 44-17 by the Dublin-based province. In full-back David McIlwaine, Carnegie have a product of the Ulster academy in their ranks.

Rotherham Titans v Aberavon, Saturday October 18, KO 15:00
Tries from Alex Rieder and Jack Preece saw Rotherham open this year's competition with a 20-3 win against Yorkshire Carnegie in Scarborough, while a brace of tries from Wales U20s No.8 Robert Dudley-Jones helped Aberavon pulled off a shock 18-14 win over Ulster's second string. Rotherham won both at home and away when they played Aberavon in the 2012/13 edition of the B&I Cup. After a narrow four-point victory in Port Talbot, the Titans turned on the style to win 49-7 in the return match at Clifton Lane.

Aberavon 18 Ulster Ravens 14
Yorkshire Carnegie 3 Rotherham Titans 20

Moseley v Nottingham Rugby, Saturday October 18, KO 15:00
Moseley ended an 11-game losing streak at this level against Nottingham when they won 29-15 at Billesley Common in the Championship in November last year. Moseley have won exactly half of the 12 all-Championship ties they have featured in since the B&I Cup was launched. Moseley and Nottingham both picked up losing bonus points in Round 1.

Worcester Warriors v Munster A, Saturday October 18, KO 15:00
Two tries from Dean Hammond and 16 points from the boot of fly-half Tiff Eden got the Warriors get off to a winning start against Nottingham, while Mick O'Driscoll's Munster edged out Moseley 27-21 to share top spot in Pool 3. Worcester suffered a 38-23 defeat to Leinster A on the only other occasion they have faced Irish opposition in the B&I Cup.

Munster A 27 Moseley 21
Nottingham Rugby 19 Worcester 26

Doncaster Knights v Cornish Pirates, Saturday October 18, KO 14:30
Pirates won on Yorkshire soil for the first time in two-and-a-half years when they came away from their last visit to Castle Park, in Round 5 of the 2014/15 Greene King IPA Championship, with a 24-22 victory. Pirates head north with five points in the bag after a thrilling 35-34 victory against Bedford in Round 1. Doncaster turned in an impressive display too, collecting maximum points from their trip to Cross Keys.

Bedford Blues v Cross Keys, Saturday October 18, KO 15:00
Both Bedford and Cross Keys, two former finalists, began their campaigns with defeats. Blues' on-loan fly half Steffan Jones will know all there is to know about Cross Keys having turned out for the Welsh Premiership side on a number of occasions in recent years. Jones arrived from Newport Gwent Dragons in the summer and wore the number 10 jersey in the opening round loss against the Pirates.

Cornish Pirates 35 Bedford Blues 34
Cross Keys 32 Doncaster 37

Carmarthen Quins v Plymouth Albion, Saturday October 18, KO 14:30
Welsh Premiership high-flyers Carmarthen Quins suffered their first defeat of the season when they were beaten 37-17 by Jersey in Round 1. Quins trailed 17-0 at the break before restoring some pride with a strong second-half showing. Plymouth also showed real character in going down to a 31-24 home defeat to Leinster A, outscoring the defending champions four tries to three to take two bonus points from the game.

Leinster A v Jersey, Friday October 17, KO 19:30
Considering their poor overall record in the B&I Cup, Jersey are surprisingly good starters in the cross-border competition. Saturday's bonus-point win against Carmarthen Quins means they have not lost in the opening round since entering the fold in 2012/13. They drew with a strong Pontypridd outfit in their first year of competition and 12 months on beat Ayr 28-16. Friday night's trip to the two-time champions will provide a serious test of their mettle though.

Jersey 37 Carmarthen Quins 17
Plymouth Albion 24 Leinster A 31


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