GKIPA CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 15 PREVIEW

With the Greene King Championship season reaching the final third, the RFU bring you a summary of a potential defining Round 15 as Bedford Blues continue their hunt for a potential play-off position.

It is Worcester who can confirm their place in the end-of-season play-offs with seven rounds of the regular season to go if they beat fifth-placed Rotherham with a bonus point on Saturday – and ensure the Titans leave Sixways empty-handed, but if the Blues trip Jersey up with a bonus point victory Dean Ryan’s men may have to wait a couple more weeks.

Cornish Pirates would need to win each of their remaining eight games with a bonus point and rely on the unlikely event of Worcester going pointless from now until the end of the season to have any hope of catching the Warriors.

Another maximum five-point return would not only secure their place in the top four it would also keep alive the Warriors' hopes of breaking their own competition points total record for a regular GKIPA Championship season.

Sunday's 58-3 win at Nottingham puts Dean Ryan's table-toppers on 65 points, two ahead of Bristol, meaning they would need to claim 37 of the 40 points available from the final eight rounds of fixtures to beat the 101 points they amassed in winning the 2010/11 title.

Bristol's best return in finishing top was the 96 points they managed in last season's 23-game campaign. Their best tally over a 22-game season is 92, set in the first season of Championship rugby in 2009/10. Bedford however have the chance to scupper both Worcester and Bristol with fixtures against both before the end of the season. Wins for the Blues in either of those matches could realistically elevate them to a potential play-off spot as the battle between Scottish, Nottingham, Bedford, Pirates, Jersey and Yorkshire Carnegie hots up with each side still in  sight. 

Worcester Warriors (1st) v Rotherham Titans (5th), Saturday 14 February, kick-off 12.35pm
Up until Worcester's initial promotion to the Premiership in 2003 Rotherham held the upper hand in fixtures between the sides, winning all bar two of the nine games played in the old National One. Since then though the Warriors have reeled off three straight wins, the biggest margin of victory coming in this season's clash at Clifton Lane when the Warriors scored 37 unanswered points in the first half before going on to win 47-7. 

Jersey (8th) v Bedford Blues (6th), Saturday 14 February, kick-off 3pm
Bedford and Jersey shared six tries when they met at Goldington Road in round 5, but it was the Blues who prevailed 25-20. Sixteen points from the boot of now departed Irish fly-half Niall O'Connor helped Jersey beat Bedford 26-14 in last season's corresponding fixture. This one could make or break each side’s play-off hopes.

Plymouth Albion (12th) v London Scottish (3rd), Sunday 15 February, kick-off 3pm
Scottish scored 10 tries in an emphatic 64-16 win over Plymouth when the sides met back in October. No.8 Mark Bright grabbed two that day and now has 16 tries for the season, the highest in the division by some margin. Jamie Stevenson's late try proved the difference the last time Scottish visited Brickfields, the Exiles winning 22-20. A win for Plymouth would keep them on the tails of Doncaster Knights, whilst a loss would make the challenge even greater. Scottish however are closing in on a definite play-off spot, and a victory at Brickfields would all but seal it if they continue this strong run of form.

Bristol Rugby (2nd) v Moseley (10th), Sunday 15 February, kick-off 3pm
Bristol were convincing winners in the first match-up of the season at Billesley Common, scoring nine tries to win 59-14. Moseley's last win in Bristol was on 28 September, 2012, when, despite conceding three yellow cards, the red and blacks came away with a 22-21 victory. A Bristol triumph would all but wrap up a play-off position, whilst Moseley’s win last week has given them some breathing space from relegation fears.

Cornish Pirates (7th) v Doncaster Knights (11th), Sunday 15 February, kick-off 3pm
This is the fourth meeting between the sides already this season, Doncaster having won both British & Irish Cup fixtures with Pirates triumphant in the league encounter at Castle Park. There was not much to choose between the sides in any of the games though, four points being the biggest winning margin. A Pirates win could see them knocking on the door of the top four, but Donny certainly won’t be rolling over as they look to secure their Championship status.

Yorkshire Carnegie (9th) v Nottingham Rugby (4th), Sunday 15 February, kick-off 3pm
Nottingham have lost on their last five visits to Headingley and travel north on the back of successive defeats against Jersey and Worcester. Carnegie, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 29-16 defeat at Doncaster which leaves them in ninth place in the table – five behind Nottingham, who won 26-20 when the sides met at Meadow Lane back in October. Surprisingly, Carnegie have scored more points (278 compared to 274) and conceded fewer (320/329) than the Green & Whites. A loss for Carnegie may end any play-off hopes, especially in handing Nottingham the advantage having already occupied a top four spot.