Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill &District 21 14 Blackheath attendance 292
Caldy 71 14 Loughborough Students 450
Cambridge postponed Darlington Mowden Park
Coventry Rugby 52 5 Old Albanian highest 1721
Hull Ionians 13 29 Birmingham Moseley 331
Old Elthamians 55 10 Fylde lowest 266
Plymouth Albion postponed Bishop’s Stortford
Rosslyn Park 44 37 Esher 740
Round 17 saw two games postponed due to waterlogged pitches, both involving the closest challengers to Coventry Rugby. The leaders took full advantage with their bonus point victory over Old Albanian increasing their lead to 18 points. The loss leaves OA ten points from safety. Three of the bottom four sides – OA, Fylde and Loughborough Students – have been using a fair proportion of dual registered players and whether results large defeats will lead to a re-appraisal of such arrangements remains to be seen.
In a hard-fought but dull encounter, Ampthill & District achieved the required home victory, albeit without a try bonus point, over a doughty Blackheath. Two tries saw Ampthill take an early lead, but in the second half Blackheath dug in and secured a losing bonus point. The win for the home side was enough to take them above Plymouth Albion into third place but now 20 points behind Coventry.
Birmingham Moseley continued where they left off in the second half against Coventry with a try bonus win at relegation-threatened Hull Ionians. The first half saw a competitive home pack give Ionians a narrow 13-12 lead, but in the second half Moseley took control with a further two tries as they cruised to the win, helped by a brace from winger Sam Pointon. The win moves Moseley back into the top half of the table, but leaves Ionians still in 14th place and now five points from safety.
Hosts Old Elthamians duly despatched bottom side Fylde with an eight-try trouncing despite the visitors drafting in four players from Sale Sharks. Fylde had plenty of possession, but the home side’s defence proved decisive, allowing winger Dom Lespierre and flanker Hamish Barton to score a brace of tries each. The win keeps OE in seventh place, but now only four points away from fifth, whilst Fylde are 14 points from safety.
A mixture of good defence and finishing allowed Caldy to inflict a demoralising defeat on a Loughborough Students side who shipped ten tries and showed that youth is no match for experience, especially up front where the home pack gradually took control to give them the platform. Caldy remain in tenth place, but only two points from the top half, and Loughborough Students drop down one place to 13th and five points above the relegation zone.
An exciting encounter between Rosslyn Park and Esher finished with the home side coming out on top seven tries to six, a last-gasp score by Hugo Ellis at No.8 sealing Park’s win. At 12-25 the half-time score suggested that Esher would win easily, but the home side came back strongly in the second period as poor defence by Esher took its toll. The win moves Park up a place to 12th eight points above the relegation places, and now only one point and one place behind their visitors.