Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Blackheath 25 32 Birmingham Moseley attendance 1015
Blaydon 17 40 Ampthill & District lowest 175
Coventry Rugby 36 27 Rosslyn Park highest 1266
Esher 50 33 Darlington Mowden Park 330
Fylde 17 21 Old Albanian 675
Hartpury RFC 40 31 Loughborough Students 803
Hull Ionians 31 26 Cambridge 255
Macclesfield 18 21 Plymouth Albion 268
Results from Week 27 show that, after a brave fight, bottom side Macclesfield will definitely be relegated whilst the battle to avoid filling the other relegation spot goes on between Hull Ionians and Blaydon, with only Fylde now left mathematically in the mix.
Second -placed Plymouth Albion had a close and hard fought encounter at Macclesfield, with the home side needing to win to keep its slim survival chances open. Despite early tries for Albion, the home side fought back and in the second half took the lead. However, a late interception try gave Albion back the lead and despite a yellow card, they hung on to win, with a tremendous defensive display. So a valiant home side will be relegated, but Albion knew they had been in a battle.
Life in NL1 has not yet come to an end for Hull Ionians, who gave themselves a lifeline with a home bonus point win over Cambridge. A good first half by the visitors saw them score three tries with Ionians unable to cope with the Cambridge half-backs, but the home side got to grips with the game in the second half as they themselves scored three more tries to give them the bonus point with a late drop goal sealing the win.
Blaydon dropped back into the relegation zone with their home loss to third-placed Ampthill & District in front of the lowest crowd of the day. Ampthill winger Nigel Baker scored a hat-trick of tries in the first 30 minutes as the home side made too many errors. The second half saw Blaydon unable to take advantage of Ampthill’s two yellow cards, the away side cruising through the final period. The win leaves Ampthill just seven point behind Plymouth Albion.
As expected, the game between Blackheath and Birmingham Moseley proved to be a close affair despite the bright start by the visitors who raced into a 22-6 lead just after half-time. Key again for Moseley was the form of fly-half James Williams with his try, three conversions and two penalties, and despite a second-half fightback by Blackheath, it was fitting that a late Williams penalty settled it for the visitors to keep them seven points ahead of Coventry and four points behind Ampthill.
An eleven-try thriller at Hartpury RFC saw the hosts keep their unbeaten run going with, in the end, a hard-fought win over Loughborough Students. The individual brilliance of the home side, as exemplified by Mat Protheroe who set the scene with an early hat-trick of tries, shone through with a further brace from winger Jonas Mikalcius taking his total for the season to 28. All credit to the Students, who came back strongly in the second half to gain a justified try bonus point.
What was expected to be a try fest and full of exciting, running rugby turned out to be the smallest score of the day as Fylde lost at home to Old Albanian. A depleted home side had to face an Old Albanian side with soon-to-be-departed coach James Shanahan playing and, indeed, it was one of his tries that sealed it for the visitors in the first half. As usual with Fylde, they came back into it in the second period but were unable to get more than a losing bonus point, which still means they need a win to be sure of NL1 rugby next season.
Esher continued their recent try-scoring run with a win over visiting Darlington Mowden Park. There were seven tries in total from the home side who raced into a 33-0 half-time lead. Scrum-half Calum Waters was in fine form, leading the way with a brace, as DMP had a very poor first half with impressive finishing by Esher proving the difference. A bit of a fightback after the break saw DMP earn their own try bonus point, but in the end they were well beaten..