Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill & District 30 14 Caldy attendance 327
Birmingham Moseley 36 19 Fylde 594
Blackheath 29 28 Esher 787
Coventry Rugby 40 10 Cambridge highest 1689
Hull Ionians 15 15 Loughborough Students lowest 247
Old Albanian 36 17 Bishop’s Stortford 349
Plymouth Albion 34 19 Darlington Mowden Park 906
Rosslyn Park 29 36 Old Elthamians 347
ROUND 23 saw leaders Coventry Rugby increase their advantage to 21 points over Darlington Mowden Park after their home victory over a resilient Cambridge side, whilst at the other end of the table, Hull Ionians and Loughborough Students drew and there was a glimmer of hope for Old Albanian with their home win.
Darlington Mowden Park were unable to dent the unbeaten home record of Plymouth Albion. A close first half ended 7-7 with the visitors defending well against Albion, who had the majority of possession and territory. As the penalty toll and errors started to mount against Park, the second half saw Albion take control with two further tries. In the last few minutes Albion gained a deserved bonus point and Park scored a third try which was too little and too late. The loss puts DMP 21 points behind Coventry with just one game in hand, and the win keeps Albion four points behind third-placed Ampthill but with three games in hand.
Ampthill & District returned to form with a home try bonus win over Caldy. The impressive home back row was influential, helped by the play and kicking of James Pritchard, as Ampthill surged into a 25-6 half-time lead. A late Caldy rally was not enough and the loss keeps them in ninth.
Blackheath, in fifth place, had a narrow escape at home against Esher in an eight-try thriller with both sides getting a try bonus point. Esher had the better of the scrum which earned them two penalty tries, but despite trailing until the end, the skill of fly-half Joe Tarrant set up a try and his last-kick conversion gave the home side the win which keeps Blackheath in fifth. The two bonus points for Esher move them up one place to tenth.
Another high-scoring match saw hosts Rosslyn Park go down to Old Elthamians, who surged into a bonus point half-time lead of 31-8 with five tries to set up the win. A second- half yellow card for OEs gave Park some hope and they fought back with three tries giving them two bonus points. Another poor result for Park keeps them in 12th place but still ten points above the relegation zone.
Birmingham Moseley surged into a three-try half-time lead against bottom side Fylde despite a red card after 30 minutes for centre Tim Molenaar. Jacques Le Roux was in fine form, completing a hat-trick of tries early in the secnd half, and despite a late fight back by Fylde which brought them three tries, Moseley came out deserved winners, moving up one to seventh, whilst the loss for Fylde puts them 24 points from safety.
It was an excellent result for Old Albanian, who gave themselves a glimmer of survival with a try bonus win over Bishop’s Stortford. Good home defence nullified the BS pack as OA scored six tries of their own. Three in the first half tries gave OA a narrow lead of 19-17, and three mre after the break sealed it for them. OA are now ten points from safety.
The game impacting heavily on the fight to avoid the final relegation place ended, not surprisingly, in a draw as Hull Ionians met Loughborough Students on Humberside. The home side went into an early lead, but were pegged back at the start of the second half before a try saw Ionians regain the lead only for Students to score an equalising try. The conversion was missed, giving both sides two points. Not an ideal result for either sides, but enough for Students to keep their two-point cushion over Ionians.