A mere 320 hardy souls braved atrocious conditions at the Athletic Ground on Saturday to watch London Scottish win their Championship basement battle against Moseley.
By virtue of their 23-18 victory, Scottish put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three clubs.
The Exiles, who have been without a forwards and defence coach since Alex Codling resigned after the first league game, this week announced James Buckland as Codling’s replacement. Buckland’s playing career included spells with Leicester Tigers, London Wasps and London Irish, while Codling was named last week as Rotherham’s new Head Coach.
Also, French legend Serge Betsen has been appointed as Scottish defence coach. This new coaching blood appeared to give the Exiles an immediate impetus, as Scottish had the visitors’ pack in retreat for most of the game.
The hosts took an early lead when Gerard Mullen finished a move that began with a 50-metre break by Chevvy Pennycook, and when James Love converted and added two penalties they were in the driving seat.
However Moseley hit back with a try from Ben Pienaar, scoring after several phases, to make the interval scoreline at 13-7.
Mark Irish added a second try for the Exiles, but the visitors came back strongly when Anthony Carter finished off a catch and drive late in the game. However, the Exlies held on to record their first league win since October 6th.
Ten places may well separate Jersey and Newcastle but there was no evident gulf in class at a soggy St Peter’s on Saturday.
The Falcons had to scrap for their tenth consecutive league win, and turned round with only a Jimmy Gopperth try in reply to a penalty from Jersey new boy Barry Davies.
However, the Falcons added three second half tries from Ryan Shortland, James Hall and Alex Tait, playing his 100th game for Newcastle, to collect their eighth bonus point from ten outings.
“Looking at what they have done at home this year, they are a quality side, and their scrummaging has been really good,” Head Coach Dean Richards told the Falcons’ website. “They played well against Leicester in a pre-season friendly, so to come away with a bonus-point is fantastic.”
The West Country derby at Brickfields was marred by both bad weather and bad temper, as the game spilled over into a two-minute thirty player brawl during the second half.
When it was all over, Plymouth prop Jack Andrew saw red, while his skipper, Sean-Michael Stephen and Bristol’s Mitch Eadie were each shown a yellow.
Albion Head Coach Nat Sauni was less than impressed with referee Mr Tempest’s analysis of the fracas, particularly as he claimed that it turned the game in Bristol’s favour.
However, Plymouth were outplayed for most of the match and can have few complaints as to the outcome.
Bristol scored two tries through George Watkins and Redford Pennycock, with Adrian Jarvis adding three penalties and a conversion. In reply, the hosts could only manage a Paul Roberts penalty and a late consolation try from Rhodri McAtee.
“It’s one game at a time, because we’re focusing on one goal at a time,” a delighted Liam Middleton told the Bristol website. “We had a good performance with the dry ball against Jersey, running in six tries and we showed that we can play in contrasting conditions at Brickfields.”
Bedford Blues breezed past the Cornish Pirates on Friday night at Goldington and are looking forward to their trip to Yorkshire to face resurgent Leeds on Sunday.
Jake Sharp’s boot contributed 22 points and rammed home the Blues’ forward dominance, underlined by tries from Neil Cochrane and Brendan Burke.
Alex Codling watched his new charges go down 13-24 to Leeds at Clifton Lane on Saturday.
Despite only losing by two tries to one, the Titans were never really in contention, and trailed 6-21 at the interval.
Leeds, who have now won six times from ten outings, had the dominance of their pack and Joe Ford’s boot to thank for the victory.
Finally, Clive Griffiths was another new rugby director to watch his side struggle, as Doncaster were thrashed 52-7 by Nottingham at Meadow Lane on Sunday.
The Green and Whites scored four tries in each half to move them into second place in the Championship table, above Bedford on points difference.
Griffiths will have his work cut out to move Doncaster off the bottom of the table, but will not have to wait long for the chance to do so as the Knights take on Jersey, who are one place above them, at Castle Park on Friday night.
All this action, leaves the table like this after ten rounds of championship rugby: