Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Birmingham Moseley 14 32 Hartpury RFC attendance 923
Cambridge 40 43 Blaydon 585
Darlington Mowden Park 66 22 Fylde 823
Loughborough Students 37 38 Esher lowest 213
Macclesfield 24 12 Blackheath 302
Old Albanian 8 73 Coventry Rugby estimate 300
Plymouth Albion 19 14 Ampthill & District highest 1638
Rosslyn Park 29 30 Hull Ionians 448
Week 28 produced some of the most surprising results of the season as all three bottom sides won, although in the case of Macclesfield it could not stop their relegation. Another loss by Fylde has also sucked them into the relegation dog fight. Towards the top of the league, there are now only seven points separating the three teams between third and fifth places.
There were some high, and record, scores as well with no less than four of the games having aggregate scores of at least 75 points.
A brave home win for Macclesfield over Blackheath was not enough to save them from relegation. Leading by 21 points after 30 minutes with their scrum dominant, they had to withstand a second half Blackheath revival before a late Lewis Barker penalty sealed it for the hosts. The new season can’t come quickrly enough for Blackheath, who have now lost more games than won.
Surprises continued with 15th-placed Blaydon travelling to Cambridge and getting a try bonus point win in a game of 83 points. Six tries apiece, with the difference at the end of each half being the early Brett Connon penalty goal. A three-point lead for Blaydon at half-time soon turned into a nine-point advantage for Cambridge, but a late Blaydon surge gave them the win that keeps them within two points of safety.
Arguably the biggest surprise of the day saw 14th-placed Hull Ionians travel to sixth-placed Rosslyn Park and come away with a narrow victory which keeps them two points ahead of Blaydon. A slender two-point half-time lead for the home side was further increased with a try, but then a second driving maul try from Hull Ionians saw them take the lead. Park regained the advantage towards the end before a late Isaac Green penalty sealed this crucial win for the visitors which keeps them above Blaydon and only six points behind Fylde.
If Fylde had any thought of being safe from relegation, it went up in flames with the wins for Blaydon and Ionians and their own heavy defeat at a dominant Darlington Mowden Park. Fylde were on the receiving end of a 10-try mauling with Park’s bonus point earned before half-time. Fly-half Garry Law was in fine form with both his kicking and a hat-trick of tries, coupled with a brace from prolific winger Adam Radwan, and Fylde had no real answer which means a nervous few weeks in store for them.
Hartpury RFC travelled to fourth-placed Birmingham Moseley and maintained their unbeaten record with another bonus point win, although they had to work hard for it. Moseley were well in the game before a late first half yellow card gave Hartpury the impetus to score 20 unanswered points. This loss leaves Moseley just two points ahead of local rivals Coventry.
As expected, second versus third saw Plymouth Albion and Ampthill & District fight out a close battle between two of the most effective packs in the league. The game was 7-all at half-time, which was followed by an Ampthill yellow card giving Albion the chance to take the lead. An Ampthill fightback saw them back on level terms before a home try settled it for Albionwho held on despite suffering their own yellow card.
Esher just beat Loughborough Students by one point in a game of nine tries, four going to the victors. Recent form had suggested that Esher could be slight favourites, and it took a late Paul Roberts penalty to see them home after, from 17-all at half-time, the Students went into a narrow lead.
Congratulations to Caldy on becoming champions of National League Two North, which means Coventry Rugby will be seeing them at Butts Park next season.