Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill & District 17 17 Loughborough Students attendance lowest 163
Birmingham Moseley 20 20 Esher 576
Coventry Rugby 47 3 Fylde highest 1357
Hull Ionians 14 21 Bishop’s Stortford 203
Old Albanian 6 32 Blackheath 350
Old Elthamians 14 19 Darlington Mowden Park 208
Plymouth Albion 21 16 Caldy 754
Rosslyn Park 10 7 Cambridge 270
MOST of the scores matched the weather on a dank and dismal day with only Coventry and Blackheath managing to obtain try bonus points. Muddy pitches and drizzle seemed the order of the day, but not enough to stop leaders Coventry Rugby scoring seven tries against bottom club Fylde. The win increases Coventry’s lead to 16 points, but leaves Fylde a massive 22 points from safety.
Second-placed Darlington Mowden Park had a hard struggle to beat Old Elthamians away. With the Park pack in fine form pressure mounted on the home side who were reduced to 13 men early on with two front row yellow cards. DMP took advantage to open up a 19-8 half-time lead, but credit to OEs as they came back strongly in the second period with Park unable to score again. However, Park’s defence held up as they sneaked the win to keep them in second place.
Ampthill & District surprisingly let slip a 17-0 half-time lead as Loughborough Students fastened on to home errors in a complete second-half turn around. Despite a dominant home back row, the visitors never gave up and heavily punished Ampthill for errors and a late yellow card to earn a draw. The two points gained by Loughborough puts them five points ahead of the relegation zone, and the draw still leaves Ampthill in third place.
Plymouth Albion, fourth wiih two games in hand over Coventry, could only gain a narrow home victory over Caldy. The away side, with the wind behind them, surged into a 10-0 lead as they took the game to Albion. The home side then started to gain control, helped by their effective back row and the kicking of Dan Mugford, and they finally took the lead. Despite some pressure, Albion held out with Caldy only able to get a losing bonus point. Despite this win Albion are a massive 27 points behind Coventry.
The only other side apart from Coventry to get a try bonus point was Blackheath, away to Old Albanian. A weakened OA squad was outplayed by a Blackheath side who withstood early home pressure and then scored three tries in two short bursts in each half, denying the home side anything from the game. Fly-half Joe Tarrant had left his kicking boots behind, but his general play and brace of tries set up the fairly easy win which keeps Blackheath in fifth spot but leaves OA 12 points from safety.
Another side in relegation trouble, Hull Ionians could only manage a losing bonus point at home to Bishop’s Stortford. A good home start was soon counteracted by a Stortford try, and although Ionians briefly led, they were soon overtaken by the visitors whose pack gradually took control. A series of three penalties against Ionians were converted by George Cullen to leave the visitors with a narrow victors and in seventh place, while Ionians are now five points from safety.
The second draw of the round was at Birmingham Moseley, who let slip a half-time lead of 12-9 as Esher kicked a late penalty to secure a share. Esher have had a terrible away run, so they were pleased with this result – a dominant Moseley back row leading the way as they led 17-9 before poor discipline let Esher back in.
Another close contest at the Rock saw Rosslyn Park come from behind at half-time to get the win over a dogged Cambridge. Park were looking for their fourth straight home win and shrugged off a late first-half yellow card to keep in touch at the break before taking more control in the second period with a try giving them the lead. This narrow win puts Park up two places to ninth, two places ahead of Cambridge who are only one point behind them.