Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Bishop’s Stortford (0) 22 41 (5) Ampthill & District attendance 700
Blackheath (5) 46 13 (0) Hull Ionians 578
Cambridge (2) 28 29 (5) Old Elthamians 395
Darlington Mowden Park (5) 32 26 (2) Caldy highest 822
Esher (1) 26 61 (5) Coventry Rugby 550
Fylde (5) 29 20 (0) Rosslyn Park 483
Loughborough Students (1) 28 49 (5) Plymouth Albion 326
Old Albanian (0) 19 38 (5) Birmingham Moseley lowest 324
Week 5 saw only three home wins, including a first vctory of any sort by previously bottom side Fylde. The top six sides all won, and all bar Fylde from the bottom six lost, increasing the gap between the top and bottom half of the league.
Whilst Coventry Rugby were putting nine tries past Esher in Surrey, leaders Darlington Mowden Park were maintaining their 100% record with a narrow try bonus point win over visiting Caldy. Before the highest gate of the day DMP stormed to a 22-7 half-time lead despite missing some key players. This season we have already seen how resilient Caldy have been and they came back strongly in the second period. Their speedy backs gave them a try bonusm but the home side were able to hang on for the win despite Caldy bringing the gap back to six points with 15 minutes still to go. The last try earned Caldy two bonus points.
Despite an early loss, Plymouth Albion are looking ominously dangerous as another bonus point victory at Loughborough Students saw them maintain third spot and only three points behind DMP. Yet it was close at half-time with both sides freely scoring tries. A biblical deluge at the break seemed to favour Albion, who quickly moved into an unassailable lead with two late tries giving the scoreline a somewhat flattering look. On this form will be a dangerous opponent for the two leading sides.
Blackheath had the ideal fixture to put their heavy defeat at Coventry behind them, at home to struggling Hull Ionians. Eight tries told its own story as the visitors had no answer to the power and control of Blackheath pack, allowing the backs to flourish. The win keeps Blackheath in fourth spot, but leaves Ionians the only side yet to win as they go back to the foot of the table.
Bishop’s Stortford found visitors Ampthill & District too much of a handful despite holding a narrow half-time lead. Ampthill’s pack then took control, running in five second-half tries. BS had no answer to the power and finishing of Ampthill whose fly-half Elliot Reeder controlled the game. The win leaves Ampthill in fifth place, equal on points with Blackheath and nicely poised for any slip up by the top three.
It’s three wins on the bounce for Old Elthamians who took advantage of Cambridge’s poor home record. Winger Dom Lespierre, now the league’s top try scorer and continuing where he left off last season, ran in three tries helped by some indifferent home tackling. Cambridge kept going to earn late try and losing bonus points to somewhat ease the pain. OE are looking well suited to this league and are now up to sixth place.
Old Albanian’s improved run came to a halt at home to fired-up Birmingham Moseley. A tight first half ended at 7-7 before the visitors took charge with five second-half tries. The Mseley pack, led expertly by Chris Brightwell, provided the platform for the backs to shine. The loss leaves OA just one point and one place above the danger zone.
Local ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats were thrown into the air in a justified celebration as Fylde obtained their first win, and indeed points, of the season with a bonus point win over Rosslyn Park. The lead changed hands several times, but early tries gave the home side some confidence that had been missing in previous games as they hung on for the win thanks to a late try by winger Tom Carleton. Park are back in 12th spot, still with only one win and only two points ahead of Fylde who remain in the relegation places.