Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill & District 31 11 Hull Ionians attendance 331
Birmingham Moseley 28 24 Macclesfield 885
Cambridge 27 36 Coventry Rugby 650
Darlington Mowden Park 26 34 Hartpury RFC 844
Loughborough Students 35 32 Blackheath 412
Old Albanian 19 65 Esher lowest 310
Plymouth Albion 45 0 Blaydon highest 1821
Rosslyn Park 36 19 Fylde 730
Week 26 saw all eight winning sides obtain a try bonus point, although crucially at the foot of the table only bottom side Macclesfield managed even a losing bonus point, leading to no change in the fight to avoid the two relegation spots which is realistically between the bottom three sides.
Hartpury College duly overcame stubborn hosts Darlington Mowden Park to record a narrow win. It was a close and feisty game with College coming under pressure before three home yellow cards swung it away from Park as the champions showed their experience by taking full advantage.
Plymouth Albion remain in second spot after seeing off visitors Blaydon, now firmly entrenched in 14th place. This game was played before Albion’s largest home gate of the season which augers well for next term. Good defence by Blaydon in the first half restricted Albion to just five points before a second-half blitz saw the hosts score six further tries. The extra pace and finishing ability of both the home pack and their backs proved decisive. The loss still leaves Blaydon two points ahead of Hull Ionians and 12 points behind Fylde.
Hull Ionians were unable to take advantage of Blaydon’s result as they went down at third-placed Ampthill & District. Trademark pick-up-and-go’s led to two early home tries and although Ionians did fight back, they could not dent a below par home performance as Ampthill turned the screw in the final quarter.
The only side in the bottom three to get a point was Macclesfield, against injury-ravaged Birmingham Moseley. A win was needed, but all Macclesfield could get was a losing bonus point which surely leaves them too much to do to escape relegation as one more loss will seal it for them. A brace of tries from dual registered player Afeafe Haisila proved the difference with the home side grateful for the win.
Rosslyn Park, in fifth place, despatched visiting Fylde despite trailing 12-14 at half-time. An early 14-0 lead to Fylde woke Park up, and they turned the screw in the second period helped by poor discipline and two yellow cards for Fylde. The pacey home pack and backs proved the difference in the end.
Loughborough Students made themselves safe from any mathematical chance of relegation with a close bonus point home win over Blackheath. The visitors had not been at their best recently but in a close and hard fought game, they almost pulled off a win with a late try but ran out of time. The win moves the Students up to ninth place with the loss keeping Blackheath in seventh.
A very poor home performance by Old Albanian saw them blown away by four tries in each half for Esher, who needed the win to virtually confirm their status for next season. Esher, who have been boosted by some new recruits, showed what they can do when in the right mood.