Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Birmingham Moseley 17 41 Coventry Rugby attendance highest 2096
Bishop’s Stortford 34 20 Old Elthamians 742
Blackheath 17 17 Rosslyn Park 737
Darlington Mowden Park 26 0 Hull Ionians 1122
Esher 29 33 Plymouth Albion 780
Fylde 9 34 Caldy 723
Loughborough Students 21 28 Cambridge lowest 103
Old Albanian 35 35 Ampthill & District 360
THE last week of the year saw leaders Coventry Rugby march on unbeaten as they completed the double over Birmingham Moseley, whose defeat drops them down to ninth place. There was no change at the foot of the table with all six bottom sides losing, although only Fylde and Hull Ionians were unable to get a bonus point.
Coventry’s closest challengers, Darlington Mowden Park remain 13 points behind after their try bonus home win over Hull Ionians. After a close first half where it took DMP 34 minutes to score against a well organised away side, they turned the screw in the second half with some adventurous play and a further three tries gave them maximum points. Hull Ionians remain in 14th place, now three points from safety.
Plymouth Albion, in third place and 16 points behind the leaders, managed a bonus point away win at Esher, who belied their league position with a gutsy performance, scoring four tries of their own. Early tries by Albion were soon negated by the home side leaving it at 21-all at half-time. Two tries from winger Matt Crosscombe proved vital for Albion as a late score sealed the win for them. The two points gained by Esher moved them 7seven points clear of the danger zone.
/there was a high-scoring game at Old Albanian who also belied their league position to draw with fourth-placed Ampthill & District. OA came back strongly in the second half with four tries after Ampthill had looked well in control. A late try gave OA the three-point draw which although still keeping them in 15th place, moves them right points from safety. Two points lost by Ampthill surely moves them out of the title race.
Another side now surely out of the title race, Blackheath could only draw at home to Rosslyn Park. It was an exciting, full-blooded encounter despite the low scoring which was dominated by a penalty try apiece. Probably a fair result and although keeping Blackheath in fifth spot, they are now 22 points behind Coventry. The two points gained by Park moves them three points ahead of the relegation places.
Bishop’s Stortford, although remaining in sixth place, are equal on point with Blackheath following their home try bonus win over Old Elthamians. Another close first half saw the home side leading 7-6 before the visitors took an early second-half advantage. Two yellow cards against the visitors gave the home side an opportunity and they took full advantage with two late tries which sealed the win.
It was a strange game at Loughborough Students who surged into an early three-try lead against Cambridge before a lack of discipline and a crumbling scrum gave the visitors the wherewithal to take the win courtesy of seven penalties. The win lifts Cambridge into the top eight, and the point gained by Students moves them five points above the danger zone.
Bottom side Fylde succumbed to their visitors Caldy, but not before a tight first half when poor discipline cost the visitors three penalties. An early second-half red card gave Caldy the impetus, and another card against Fylde saw the visitors secure a bonus point win, lifting them up to tenth place, but the loss leaving Fylde 12 points from safety.
May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year, and the team to get its just rewards for an exciting and impressive season.