Greene King IPA Championship Preview – Round 12

30th December 2013

This season’s Greene King IPA Championship play-off race is proving to be the most competitive for years with just five points separating the top five clubs heading into the New Year.

Bristol, who have played a game more than their rivals, lead the way on 42 points, with victories achieved over Ealing and Moseley during the festive period.

Andy Robinson's men sit out the next round of fixtures, while three of the four sides in the chasing pack – London Welsh (second, 41 points), Leeds Carnegie (fourth, 38) and London Scottish (fifth, 37) – face potentially difficult away trips in Round 12.

Rotherham Titans (third, 38 points) are at home for the second week running.

London Scottish begin 2014 with a New Year's Day clash against Bedford Blues at Goldington Road, 3pm kick-off.

The chances of the Blues maintaining their proud play-off record look remote as they are 20 points adrift of the top four following a difficult first half of the season.

A superb second-half performance earned Rotherham a bonus-point win against Bedford in front of a bumper Boxing Day crowd.

The Blues did however become the first side to topple London Welsh in the Championship in their last home league outing, 28-26 on November 30.

Bedford won last season's corresponding fixture with Scottish 55-20, but the visitors go into this match on the back of a five-match winning run.

Cornish Pirates are the next visitors to Clifton Lane in one of three Saturday afternoon fixtures.

Last season's corresponding game finished in a 41-28 win for Rotherham Titans – their first success over the Pirates in eight attempts.

Welsh, who are one point off top spot, travel to St Peter to play struggling Jersey in another 2pm kick-off.

While the form book suggests an away win, 11th-placed Jersey will no doubt be desperate to restore some pride after slipping to a 28-18 loss to relegation rivals Ealing Trailfinders in their last home league fixture.

Saturday's action concludes with Plymouth Albion v Leeds Carnegie, kick off 3pm.

In-form Carnegie have lost on their last two visits to Brickfields: 25-20 (2011/12) and 32-31 (2012/13).

In the four matches since Leeds last won there – 17-6 on April 25, 2009 – the sides have been separated by a margin of five points or less.

Leeds head to Devon on the back of four consecutive bonus-point wins in all competitions, while Albion have not won in the league since beating Ealing Trailfinders 20-5 on November 8.

Eleven points separate 10th-placed Nottingham Rugby from bottom-of-the-table Ealing Trailfinders who do battle at Meadow Lane in Sunday's solitary Championship fixture.

Listen to hooker Adam Kwasnicki's radio preview here

Round 12 fixtures

Wednesday January 1

Bedford Blues v London Scottish, KO 15:00

Saturday January 4

Jersey v London Welsh, KO 14:00

Rotherham Titans v Cornish Pirates, KO 14:00

Plymouth Albion v Leeds Carnegie, KO 15:00

Sunday January 5

Nottingham Rugby v Ealing Trailfinders, KO 15.00

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