Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill & District 29 23 Rosslyn Park attendance lowest 235
Bishop’s Stortford 22 22 Darlington Mowden Park 367
Birmingham Moseley 13 11 Caldy 663
Blackheath 21 22 Loughborough Students 474
Coventry Rugby 29 14 Plymouth Albion highest 2065
Esher 50 12 Fylde 270
Hull Ionians 27 11 Old Elthamians 277
Old Albanian 7 54 Cambridge 270
Week 13 saw Coventry Rugby increase their lead at the top to 11 points with the top four sides covered by 16 points. At the bottom there were further defeats for Fylde and Old Albanian, but a win for Loughborough Students which moves them within two points of safety and also has the effect of bringing six sides to within eight points of the final relegation spot.
As expected, it was a close game at Bishop’s Stortford where second-placed Darlington Mowden Park came away with a three-point try bonus draw. The visitors started well and a late first-half interception try gave them a 17-7 lead. Despite Park adding another try early in the second half for their bonus point, Bishop’s Stortford never gave up and came back to earn their two-point draw. Park’s three points keep them in second place.
Not for the first start this season, Ampthill & District had to recover from a slow start as Rosslyn Park belied their league position with their pack, led by Hugo Ellis, taking early control. Late in the first half two yellow cards for Park saw Ampthill take full advantage by running in two quick tries to put them on top and despite a second half fightback by Park, a Joe Bercis try sealed it for the home side. Rosslyn Park are now showing some better form after a poor start to the season, while the win moves Ampthill up to third, 13 points behind Coventry.
The shock of the day came at Blackheath where Loughborough Students, evidently shorn of many of their dulal-registered players, narrowly beat an out of sorts home side. Despite two early LS penalties, courtesy of their excellent fly-half Owen Waters, the home side stormed into a 15-6 half-time lead with their pack in charge. Students came storming back in the second period with the lead changing hands, and despite chances to seal it Blackheath were unable to do so as Waters kicked the winning penalty. The loss leaves Blackheath in fifth spot, but moves the Students to within two points of safety.
A poor game saw Birmingham Moseley eke out a narrow victory in the Midlands over Caldy. Matters were not helped for the visitors when they received a red card for a tip tackle in the first half. Too many missed kicks at goal also hampered Caldy’s cause, and despite plenty of endeavour, it was a late drop goal that gave Moseley this uninspiring win whuch keeps them in seventh place while Caldy drop down one to 13th and now only two points ahead of the final relegation spot.
With Old Albanian shorn of all their dual-registered Saracens players, they found a rampant Cambridge side too hot to handle as the away side ran in eight tries. Some adventurous Cambridge play got its just reward as the home side had no answer. The win takes Cambridge into the top half of the table, but the loss drops OA to 15th place and now five points from safety.
Another side to score eight tries was Esher, who had bottom club Fylde as their visitors. With the home props scoring three tries and the pack in dominant form, Esher’s backs also ran riot for a win that keeps them in tenth place. The loss leaves Fylde, still with only two wins, a massive 12 points from safety.
Hull Ionians gave themselves some breathing space in the lower half of the table with a bonus point win at home over Old Elthamians. A close first half saw good defence from the home side despite plenty of possession for OEs. With the home pack in fine form, led by No.8 James Sanderson, Ionians ran in three further second-half tries, winger David Clark getting a hat-trick, for a win which moves them up two places to 11th and now only three points behind 9th-placed OEs.