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Battle at the Bottom – The Real Drama



This weekend I will be heading north to the delightful old ground at Cross Green, Otley and the potential RFU Championship play-off decider between Leeds and the Cornish Pirates.

In another madcap adventure combining juggling jobs and hours of motorway driving I will rock up on Sunday morning as probably the only travelling journo from the far south west. Quite who will be there from the local press remains to be seen with BBC Leeds deciding not to cover the game so if it is a match commentary you want then you will be stuck with me, Steve Tomlin, and BBC Cornwall.

This game is important in its own right as clubs battle to be involved in the second stage of the Championship contest and earn a bit of extra cash from one additional home fixture at least. But with Newcastle Falcons in absolutely irresistible form last weekend against the Pirates it is virtually (but not totally) impossible to see any shocks at the top end of the table now.

Down at the other end things are a little bit different. It looks like a three-way scrap to avoid relegation between Doncaster Knights, Jersey and Moseley. With 6 games to play Plymouth Albion are probably safe whilst just three points separate bottom club Doncaster (18) and Moseley (21). They along with Jersey (19) both have games in hand at home against Bristol and Nottingham respectively and with those clubs in turn scrapping to be in the top four the plot thickens again.

For Moseley five of their remaining games, starting with the massive clash against the Knights at Billesley Common tomorrow, are at home. If they can`t make that count then they don`t deserve to stay up.

Jersey have a tricky run-in facing four games on the road away from the Island. They have brought in a couple of signings this week in Mark Foster (Exeter Chiefs) and Mark McCrea (Connacht), along with talented but sadly injury prone Charlie Walker-Blair to bolster their back row. Fresh legs and fresh faces at such a key time could make a massive difference.

Doncaster simply have to get something at Moseley tomorrow. If they do and they can battle their way to a win over Rotherham at Castle Park next week then their survival bid is on.

Unless Bedford have an off day they can forget sharing the spoils at Goldington Road but Nottingham at home is an interesting proposition. I tip the Green & Whites to blow up before the end of the season just as Bristol did last year, for this play-off scenario is new territory for Martin Haag`s men.

That then leaves the Knights with Jersey at St.Peter`s and Plymouth Albion at home. Whatever happens at the bottom it will go right to the wire.

Moving in the opposite direction at the end of April looks likely to be Ealing Trailfinders as they complete their escape from the bear-pit of fierce competition that is National League One.

Barring any unexpected implosion in their form they should seal top spot if they can beat second-place Blaydon at home on March 23rd.

Championship Predictions:-

London Scottish v Jersey – Scots by 7

Bedford Blues v Bristol – Blues by 9

Leeds Carnegie v Cornish Pirates – Leeds by 3

Moseley v Doncaster – Moseley by 5

Rotherham Titans v Newcastle Falcons – Falcons by 22

Nottingham v Plymouth Albion – Nottingham by 12


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