- Bristol and Bedford top Pool A and B, respectively
- Pirates and London Welsh suffer losses in final pool round to finish second
Photo: RFU Archive
Bristol booked a semi-final place against Cornish Pirates after finishing top of Pool A. A 39-10 victory over winless Doncaster ensured they finished above rivals London Welsh, who will play Bedford in the other semi-final.
Bristol started with intent and they were on the scoreboard inside two minutes thanks to a try from Luke Eves. Further tries followed from Will Helu, Fautua Otto and Matty James, as well as a penalty try, as Bristol secured their first home win at their third attempt in the play- offs much to the delight of the 5,000 crowd.
All Doncaster’s points came in a four minute period just before half-time when Dougie Flockhart landed a penalty and then converted a Fred Burdon try.
Two tries from Seb Jewell inside the final two minutes steered London Welsh to a 33-25 victory over Nottingham at Meadow Lane. Up until that point Nottingham had led from the second minute when Gloucester bound No.8 Sione Kalamafoni signed off with a try.
Juan Pablo Socino and Rhys Crane also got in on the act for the spirited Green & Whites who were never able to pull clear because of the reliable goal kicking of Alex Davies, who finished with an 18-point haul after converting both Jewell’s tries and an earlier effort from James Lewis as well as landing four penalties.
Bedford top B
In Pool B, nearly 3,000 fans saw Bedford secure a semi-final place against London Welsh, one of their oldest rivals, after finishing top of Pool B with an emphatic 27-0 victory over Rotherham. Blues scored four tries through Ricky Reeves, James Pritchard - on his 200th appearance for the club - Henry Staff and Chris Locke to pick up maximum points.
Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer would also have been delighted by his side’s first clean sheet of the season. Rotherham finished bottom of the pool having picked up just one win – away to Leeds – in what was a frustrating play- off campaign for the Titans.
But they did receive a boost on the eve of the fixture at Goldington Road with the news that fly- half and leading points- scorer Garry Law had penned a new two- year deal.
Leeds Carnegie saved their best home performance of the season to last with a convincing 42-25 win over Cornish Pirates. Carnegie, who announced a number of long- standing players would be leaving the club in the summer, ran in five tries – the first two coming from departing wingers Michael Stephenson and Lee Blackett.
Iain Thornley, man-of-the-match Chris Walker and Craig Hampson added further tries after the break. Pirates replied with tries from Rhodri McAtee, Rob Elloway, Phil Burgess and Dave Ward, who will hope to join Harlequins in the summer as a Championship title winner.
RFU Championship semi-finals
Friday May 4 – Bedford Blues v London Welsh, KO 745pm
Monday May 7 – Cornish Pirates v Bristol Rugby, KO 1205 – Sky Sports HD
Sunday May 13 - London Welsh v Bedford Blues, KO3pm
Sunday May 13 - Bristol Rugby v Cornish Pirates, KO 1245 – Sky Sports HD