Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill & District (5) 35 12 (0) Fylde attendance 385
Birmingham Moseley (0) 14 55 (5) Blackheath 750
Coventry Rugby (5) 30 27 (1) Bishops Stortford H 1703
Hull Ionians (5) 43 28 (1) Esher L 183
Old Albanian (4) 33 31 (1) Darlington Mowden Park 370
Old Elthamians (5) 23 21 (1) Caldy 295
Plymouth Albion (4) 17 10 (1) Cambridge 901
Rosslyn Park (5) 49 14 (0) Loughborough Students 540
IF any of the top three sides needed a warning of how difficult this league is going to be, Week 6 gave a view of what a challenge it is with both Coventry and Plymouth Albion struggling to win home games whilst previous leaders Darlington Mowden Park found the visit to Old Albanian a chastening experience, losing both their unbeaten 100% record and their lead at the top of the league.
Coventry Rugby came across a tenacious and well-drilled Bishop’s Stortford side with a late penalty giving the hosts a try bonus point win to take over at the top of the league. It was also the first week this season with more home wins than away. Congratulations must go to Hull Ionians for their first win this season, taking them off the bottom of the league.
The expected walkover for visiting Darlington Mowden Park at Old Albanian came up short as the home side rediscovered the form displayed against both Ampthill and Coventry to race into a 13-0 lead. Yellow cards then disrupted both sides as DMP took a narrow lead, before a late penalty gave OA a deserved victory. The loss drops DMP down to third place, thee points behind new leaders Coventry.
Plymouth Albion were unable to take full advantage of DMP’s loss as they failed to get a bonus point at home to a resilient Cambridge side. Despite plenty of possession Albion came up against a dogged defence that had learnt lessons from their previous five games. The win was enough for Albion to move into second place, also three points behind Coventry.
Birmingham Moseley came across a superior, fast-thinking side in visitors Blackheath who raced into an early 21-0 nil lead with the try bonus earned by half-time. Moseley had no answer to the speed and finishing of Blackheath, and although a brief fightback in the second half saw them claw back two tries, a couple of yellow cards didn’t help their cause and three late tries sealed the win for Blackheath, keeping them in fourth place and six points behind the leaders.
Ampthill & District achieved an expected home victory over Fylde who are still looking for their second win of the season. The hosts eased into a 21-0 half-time lead with attacking flair. The game tightened up in the second half as Fylde gained a brace of tries, but former Coventry player James Pritchard scored a late try to seal the bonus point win which keeps Ampthill in fifth spot and six points behind the leaders, whilst Fylde fall back to the bottom of the table.
Old Elthamians narrowly beat visitors Caldy, a result which keeps both sides in the top half of the table. A game of no less than six yellow cards, three apiece, initially gave OE the impetus to go into a 23-7 lead before Caldy hit back in the second half with two late tries almost snatching it for them.
It is too early to say whether Rosslyn Park have turned a corner in their season with only their second win, this time scoring seven tries against visiting Loughborough Students. The Students were not helped by a first half red card for a dangerous tackle which allowed Park to take the initiative with five further tries as the Students visibly tired. A result which keeps Students in the relegation places but lifts Park two places up to tnth.
Hull Ionians finally broke their duck with a hard-fought home win over Esher. Yet it seemed a lost cause when Esher raced into a 21-0 lead before Ionians got their impressive line-out and catch and drive working, giving them three tries of their own before half-time. A yellow card against Hull then allowed Esher to regain the lead before a similar one against Esher led to Ionians pulling away at the end for a deserved try bonus point win that moves them off the bottom of the table.