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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.