Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Bishop’s Stortford 10 15 Birmingham Moseley attendance 313
Caldy 33 3 Rosslyn Park 380
Cambridge 20 8 Ampthill & District 415
Darlington Mowden Park 33 19 Blackheath highest 974
Esher 24 8 Old Albanian 561
Fylde 12 14 Hull Ionians 412
Loughborough Students 24 31 Coventry Rugby 512
Old Elthamians 16 12 Plymouth Albion lowest 255
ROUND 22 saw only the top two, Coventry Rugby and Darlington Mowden Park win out of the top five sides, effectively reducing the promotion race to those two, whilst at the bottom, only Hull Ionians of the bottom four managed a win.
Leaders Coventry Rugby had to dig deep to defeat a resolute Loughborough Students side. The bonus point win keeps Coventry 16 points ahead of DMP, but the loss leaves Students only two points above the relegation zone.
Coventry’s closest challenger, Darlington Mowden Park duly kept their unbeaten home record with their own bonus point victory over Blackheath. It was a closely-fought encounter for most of the game with Blackheath scoring three tries before a late surge saw the home side through.
Third-placed Ampthill & District went to Cambridge and were outplayed by the home side, especially in the forwards where wily flanker Darren Fox excelled. An impressive scrum gave Cambridge the platform to complete the double. The loss leaves Ampthill 27 points behind Coventry, whilst the win moves Cambridge up one place to tenth.
Another side now out of the promotion race is Plymouth Albion, who visited Old Elthamians and lost narrowly. The home side surged into an early 10-0 lead before an Albion fightback saw them trail 13-7 at half-time. In poor conditions both sides struggled, but the home defence was in fine form despite conceding a second-half try and OEs managed to hold out thanks to a late Joe Carlisle penalty. Albion remain in fourth place, four points behind Ampthill with two games in hand, whilst OEs remain in sixth spot.
Another game affected by the conditions saw home side Bishop’s Stortford lose narrowly to Birmingham Moseley. Playing with the wind in the first half BS went into a 10-5 lead, but Moseley became more dominant once the elements were in their favour and try-scoring machine, flanker Ciaran Moore scored the winning try. Both sides maintaining their positions in the league.
Caldy put in a great second-half performance, again in treacherous conditions, to land a bonus point win over visiting Rosslyn Park. There was a brace of tries, one in each half, for No.8 J J Dickinson as Caldy ran away with it in the second period. The win moves Caldy up one to ninth, but drops Park down three to 12th place.
Another loss for Old Albanian at Esher surely seals their fate as they are now 13 points from safety. The home side raced into a 19-5 half-time lead as their dominant pack took control with three tries. The bonus point was earned in the second period, courtesy of a try which completed a hat-trick for hooker Will Harding. The win moves Esher up one place to 11th.
There was another loss for bottom club Fylde, at home to relegation rivals Hull Ionians. A try and two penalties saw the visitors go into a half-time lead of 11-5. Despite the promise of a second-half recovery, Fylde were unable to take all their chances and Ionians held on for a crucial win which takes them within two points of safety.