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RFU Championship fan vote: match previews

03 April 2013

  • RFU Championship in a rugby first with Twitter streaming
  • Vote via www.rfu.com/fanvote for your chosen game to be streamed live
Newcastle Falcons forward Mark Wilson

Photo: RFU Archive

In the first of four instalments profiling the Round 22 fixtures battling it out to make Twitter history, we focus on title contenders Newcastle Falcons’ final league battle against Bristol, and survival hopefuls Jersey’s trip to Cornish Pirates.

In what will be a first for rugby, the RFU Championship, England’s second tier of professional rugby, will stream a game live on Twitter during the final weekend of league fixtures on Saturday, April 20, in association with The Rugby Paper.

Continuing to bring supporters closer to the action, the game that is streamed live through the social networking site will be chosen by public vote via www.rfu.com/fanvote. That’s right! We’re giving you the opportunity to decide. So to help you make your choice, we will profile each fixture over the next two weeks until voting closes on Sunday, April 14.

Newcastle Falcons v Bristol Rugby

Relegated to the RFU Championship in June 2012, the men from the North East appear on the surface to have sailed through the second tier of professional rugby, having won every fixture in both the league competition and British & Irish Cup. However, a closer look at the results tells a slightly different story, with the former Premiership side coming within four points or less of losing against London Scottish (12-9), Leeds Carnegie (9-13), Bedford Blues (17-15) and most recently, second placed Nottingham Rugby (12-14).

The Falcons will however take confidence from their dominant league position, having secured their top of the table finish well in advance of the Round 22 fixture against Bristol Rugby. The two former Premiership sides met at the start of the season, kicking off the 2012-13 campaign at The Memorial Stadium in September. The home side shipped 37 points to Newcastle that day with four tries, two courtesy of fly half Luke Fielden. Despite a return score from former Falcon Luke Eves and wing Ryan Edwards, the West Country men let the eight-point half time deficit slip further away, with flanker Ally Hogg delivering the final blow.

A lot has changed in seven months, most noticeably at Bristol Rugby with former England and Scotland Director of Rugby Andy Robinson taking over the reigns from Liam Milddleton as Head Coach. Robinson will join Dean Richards in the dugout at Kingston Park, a familiar face with both having coached Premiership clubs (Leicester Tigers and Bath, respectively) at the same time.

Cornish Pirates v Jersey RFC

Promoted into the RFU Championship last season, Jersey RFC have struggled to follow their previous success of immediate promotion, following three years of consecutive league titles via National League 3, SSE National League 2 South and most recently, SSE National League 1.

Jersey recorded their first league win against the 2011-12 promoted team, London Scottish, in front of a home crowd at St Peter’s. With two tries apiece, the club edged the 20-17 victory to the delight of Director of Rugby, Ben Harvey: “The boys showed real spirit, heart and tenacity and it's terrific for them to get a win to reflect all their hard work.”

The club has since gone on to win five of their 20 league fixtures, including results over Leeds Carnegie, Rotherham Titans and back-to-back victories over Plymouth Albion.

Cornish Pirates

Photo: RFU Archive

One of their shortest away trips, Jersey will face Cornish Pirates in their final league game of the season, with their Round 21 fixture against fellow relegation battlers Doncaster Knights likely to determine the club’s fate. Pirates, however, may still be in with a chance of a top-four finish, currently 11 points behind fourth placed Bristol and with a game in hand.

Regardless of their future this season, head coach Ian Davies will be eager to end the league stage with a win, having lost four of their last six fixtures. If the Pirates fail to edge into the top four, it will be the Cornishmen’s lowest league finish since 2009/10. Davies’ men will be favourites going into the fixture at The Mennaye, having recorded at 20-6 victory over Jersey in the return fixture in September.

 

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