Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Bishop’s Stortford 20 22 Rosslyn Park attendance 742
Blackheath 61 29 Coventry Rugby highest 1008
Cambridge Postponed Caldy
Darlington Mowden Park 42 7 Birmingham Moseley 943
Esher 29 29 Ampthill & District 380
Fylde 0 26 Plymouth Albion 477
Loughborough Students 21 25 Old Elthamians lowest 219
Old Albanian 50 28 Hull Ionians 345
Round 18 witnessed another game postponed for a waterlogged Cambridge, but the chief news of the day was the first defeat this season for Coventry at Blackheath by ten tries to five. The bonus point for Coventry saw their lead only reduced by four points, leaving Darlington Mowden Park still 14 points behind, albeit with a game in hand.
The positions at the bottom of the league are crystallising as another defeat for Fylde leaves them 15 points from safety, with the remaining two relegation spots looking likely to come from Old Albanian, Hull Ionians or Loughborough Students who are now only separated by seven points.
Darlington Mowden Park did what was required with a home try bonus point win over Birmingham Moseley. Yet the Moseley pack was on top in the first period and able to restrict the home side’s lead to 14-7. However, it was a different story after the break as the hosts took control to finish with six tries in total as Moseley were nilled in the second half. It keeps Park in second place, now 14 points behind Coventry with a game in hand and having to face the leaders twice over the coming months.
Plymouth Albion were able to take advantage of Coventry’s loss with their own try bonus win at bottom side Fylde. Albion were always on top but it did take them until the last minute to get their bonus try, helped by a home yellow card. It was a close first period and would have been closer if a Fylde try had not been disallowed. The win moves Albion up one to third, 17 points behind Coventry with a game in hand. Fylde meanwhile are rooted to the bottom, now 15 points from safety.
Ampthill & District drop down to fourth following their three-point draw away to Esher. The try bonus point was already won by Ampthill before half-time when they led 26-10, James Pritchard in fine form with a brace of tries and his goalkicking. Both sides seem to mirror each other with effective driving mauls , and Esher fought back to earn their own three points before a late Pritchard penalty miss cost Ampthill the win.
Old Elthamians moved into the top six after a hard-fought win at Loughborough Students. Trailing 17-7 at half-time, the Students fought back strongly with a penalty try and looked like they were going to get the win before a late OEs penalty denied them, leaving them with just a losing bonus point but enough to keep them above Hull Ionians and still five points from the relegation zone.
It was another close-fought game at Bishop’s Stortford as the home side let a 10-5 half-time lead slip and went down to a narrow loss to Rosslyn Park. The home side were unable to take their chances in the first half and were then hit by two yellow cards, giving Park control at the start of the second period. BS still had the chance to win late on, but missed a clear opportunity of a try. The loss drops BS down one to seventh, with the win moving Rosslyn Park up one to 11th.
The game between two sides battling to get out of the relegation places went the way of hosts Old Albanian, who a bonus point win over Hull Ionians who, once again, managed to pick up their own try bonus point. Seemingly in control at half-time, leading 27-14, OA then shipped two penalty tries to let the visitors back into the game before a late two-try surge sealed the bonus point win. It moves OA to within one point of Ionians but, more importantly, they are now only six points from safety.