Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill & District 33 7 Old Elthamians attendance L 273
Birmingham Moseley 36 10 Loughborough Students 861
Blackheath 19 21 Bishop’s Stortford 624
Coventry Rugby 38 14 Caldy H 1587
Esher 33 26 Darlington Mowden Park 309
Hull Ionians 27 21 Cambridge 367
Old Albanian 15 16 Fylde 310
Rosslyn Park 26 26 Plymouth Albion 400
Week 10 completed the first third of the season with Coventry’s lead increased to 10 points as only Ampthill from the chasing pack of four teams won. The gap between first and fifth has widened to 15 points. However, it is getting closer at the bottom with basement club Fylde winningalong with Hull Ionians whose result took them out of the relegation zone, leaving four teams separated by just five points trying to avoid the final relegation place.
Ampthill & District leapt into second place with a hard-fought home try bonus win over Old Elthamians. Once again it was the second-meanest defence in the league that gave Ampthill the wherewithal to thwart their visitors. The home side took their chances to build a 21-0 half-time lead, and despite more possession for OE in the second half, they came up against a strong defensive wall. The win leaves Ampthill 10 points behind Coventry with the loss keeping OE in seventh spot.
Dropping down a place to third was Darlington Mowden Park’s fate as they suffered their third consecutive away loss at Esher. Last week’s win at Blackheath set up Esher with their set piece a revelation, and excellent finishing saw them race into a bonus point half-time lead of 26-7. Despite being without a number of Falcons players, DMP came back strongly in the second period with three tries and a late penalty earning them two bonus points. Esher held on in the end and move up to tenth place.
Another close and exciting game saw Rosslyn Park fight out a try bonus draw with visitors Plymouth Albion. A couple of first half yellow cards against Park gave Albion the impetus to rush into a 21-7 half-time lead. The second half brought a much better Park performance with excellent handling as they looked to have sneaked a win before the last move of the game saw Albion get the try to equalise. The drama was not over as Albion’s Dan Mugford missed the conversion, leaving a three-point draw for both sides. The draw drops Albion down one to fourth place, now 11 points behind Coventry.
Another good start by a team came to nought as Blackheath opened up a 19-7 half-time lead over visitors Bishop’s Stortford. Not for the first time this season, BS produced a dogged fightback with two tries to snatch the win, helped by a yellow card against Blackheath who remain in fifth place but now only one point ahead of their conquerors.
Birmingham Moseley notched up their second successive win, this time over visitors Loughborough Students. With the Students missing most of their Leicester contingent, Moseley were able to take control with their backs, led by centre Tim Molenaar, impressing. The Students’ cause was not helped in the first half with a yellow card for a tip tackle followed by a red for a similar offence. The home side secured their try bonus before the break and despite a more even second period, the Students were well beaten. The win keeps Moseley in the top half but leaves LS seven points from safety.
A crunch game on Humberside saw 14th-placed Hull Ionians overcome a half-time 10-5 deficit of to earn a crucial try bonus win over Cambridge. Once again it was the power of the home pack with their catch-and-drive which led to two tries followed by a penalty try from a scrum. Cambridge did manage a losing bonus point thanks to a last-minute penalty. The win finally takes Hull Ionians out of the relegation places up to 12th place, but only four points above the danger zone.
Bottom side Fylde obtained only their second win of the season, away at Old Albanian. OA were in control in the first half, leading by 15-6, before a second half revival saw Fylde get back to within one score. A last-minute penalty won it for the visitors who ae now eight points from safety. On the other hand, OA drop down to 13th spot only one point above the relegation places.