- Championship play-offs begin this weekend, live on Sky Sports
- Bristol, Leeds, London Welsh and Rotherham announce teams
Photo: RFU Archive
The four Greene King IPA Championship semi-finalists have announced their teams ahead of this weekend's opening play-off fixtures.
In the opening game, home side Bristol Rugby have named 12 changes to the starting XV that lost to Leeds Carnegie in the British & Irish Cup final last weekend. Loose-head prop Kyle Traynor retains his place, as does scrum half Ruki Tipuna and inside centre Luke Eves.
A host of former Premiership talent makes up the team to face Rotherham at The Memorial Stadium, including Nicky Robinson, Andy Short, Mark Sorenson and Nick Koster.
In the opposition line-up, Rotherham have made six changes to the side that beat Ealing Trailfinders last time out. Along the backline Joel Gill comes in at outside centre, moving Jack Roberts across to inside centre, as Juan Pablo Socino makes a surprise start in the number ten jersey and Michael Keating comes back into contention on the wing.
In the pack Robin Hislop gets the nod over Toby Williams at loose-head prop, Tom Cruse returns at hooker following a shoulder injury and in the second row Josh Thomas-Brown secures his berth after suffering in recent weeks with a calf strain.
Bristol Rugby v Rotherham Titans, Saturday, May 10, KO 2.45pm
Auguy Slowik, George Watkins, Jack Tovey, Luke Eves, Andy Short; Nicky Robinson, Ruki Tipuna, Kyle Traynor, Rhys Lawrence, Gaston Cortes, Ben Glynn, Mark Sorenson (c), Nick Koster, Ross Rennie, Marco Mama
Replacements: Ross Johnston, James Hall, Glen Townson, Mitch Eadie, Luke Baldwin, Adrian Jarvis, Adam Hughes
Sean Scanlon, Jamie Broadley, Joel Gill, Jack Roberts, Michael Keating, Juan Pablo Socino, Charlie Mulchrone (c), Robin Hislop, Tom Cruse, Colin Quigley, Tom Holmes, Josh Thomas-Brown, Alex Rieder, Jack Preece, Alfie To’oala
Replacements: Ben Morris, Toby Williams, Mark Tampin, Ed Williamson, Jordan Davies, Dan White, Dallan Murphy
Leeds Carnegie begin third consecutive semi-final campaign
Photo: John White Media
In Sunday’s game Leeds begin their third consecutive year in the semi-finals, hoping to progress one stage further and book a place in the dinal, on May 29 and June 4.
Head Coach James Lowe has made only two changes from the side that beat promotion rivals Rotherham Titans in Round 23, with Phil Nilsen at hooker and leading try scorer David Doherty coming into the side.
In the visiting side, London Welsh make six changes from the side which defeated Nottingham in the final round of the regular league season.
In the backs, Alex Davies starts at full back – a position he made his own in the Exiles’ Championship winning season two years ago – with Alan Awcock named on the bench.
Elsewhere, team captain Tom May comes back into the side at inside centre in place of Hudson Tonga’uiha.
In the forwards, James Tideswell returns at tight head while there’s some reshuffling in the back row. Carl Kirwan moves from blind-side to open-side flanker, Daniel Browne takes the number six jersey, having started at blind-side flanker against Nottingham, and Ollie Stedman starts at Number 8.
Stedman is one of four ex-Leeds players in the London Welsh side, the others being Gordon Ross, James Tincknell and Daniel Browne.
Leeds Carnegie v London Welsh, Sunday, May 11, KO 1pm. Live on Sky Sports HD
Stevie McColl, Jonah Holmes, Rob Vickerman, Fred Burdon, David Doherty, Glyn Hughes, Craig Hampson, Charlie Beech, Phil Nilsen, Damien Tussac, Richard Beck, Mike Myerscough, David Sisi, Jacob Rowan (c), Ryan Burrows
Replacements: Joe Graham, Lee Imiolek, Ben Hooper, Calum Green, Chris Walker, James Doherty, Alex Lozowski
Alex Davies, Seb Stegmann, Tom May (c), James Tincknell, Nick Scott, Gordon Ross, Chris Cook, Nathan Trevett, Nathan Vella, James Tideswell, Will Spencer, Matt Corker, Daniel Browne, Carl Kirwan, Ollie Stedman
Replacements: Nathan Morris, Tom Bristow, Peter Edwards, Pete Browne, John Quill, Tyson Keats, Alan Awcock