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Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action


Ampthill & District           24       22        Plymouth Albion             attendance         322

Blackheath                         55      10        Macclesfield                                                  431

Blaydon                              14       17        Cambridge                                                     220

Coventry Rugby                43       42         Old Albanian                     highest              939

Esher                                   34      22          Loughborough Students                            438

Fylde                                    31      25          Darlington Mowden Park                          521

Hartpury College               64         5          Birmingham Moseley                                505

Hull Ionians                         16       14          Rosslyn Park                     lowest              156


Week 14 saw surprises with both Plymouth Albion and Rosslyn Park losing away and Moseley suffering a record loss against the leaders, while of the bottom four only Hull Ionians were able to win. For the second week running there were seven home wins from the eight games.

The biggest win of the day saw unbeaten leaders Hartpury College inflict an embarrassing defeat on their closest challengers Birmingham Moseley, scoring nine tries in the process. Fielding virtually a Premiership-strength back line, Hartpury’s pack was also more than capable of matching Moseley which gave the home half-backs plenty of opportunities for their backs to flourish. The win increases Hartpury’s lead to 19 points over Moseley and virtually assures them of promotion even with a week to go to the halfway point.

Any thoughts Plymouth Albion had of taking over second place were dashed by a narrow defeat at Ampthill & District. Despite leading 22-6 at half-time, Albion found the Ampthill pack in better form after the break, and with the home side cutting out errors, a late penalty try gave them the win. Despite losing, Albion remain in third place, level on points with Moseley, but now only four points ahead of Ampthill.

Fourth-placed Blackheath in put their loss at Moseley behind them with a crushing home victory over now bottom side Macclesfield. Eight tries in total for Blackheath as the incisive running of full-back Geoff Griffiths gave them the opportunities. The home side are now within three points of second place, but the result drops Macclesfield down to eight points from safety.

The biggest surprise of the day was at Hull Ionians, who beat a rapidly improving Rosslyn Park side. The hosts started badly, but only trailed by one point at half-time before a determined second-half fightback gave them a deserved victory. This win keeps Park in seventh place but leaves Hull Ionians now within three points of safety.

It needed another second-half fightback by Esher, who trailed 0-15 to visiting Loughborough Students, to secure a win. The experience of scrum-half Andy Garner shone through, allowing Esher to take control in the second half and score four tries. Importantly, the win moves Esher nine points above the danger zone and now only four points from seventh spot.

Cambridge also produced a strong second half to gain a narrow victory at Blaydon.  Trailing 0-14 at half-time, Cambridge came out determined to run everything and as the home pack tired, the away side scored three tries to gain the win which keeps Cambridge in tenth place while the losing bonus point was enough to move Blaydon off the bottom to 15th place.

Two sides too close to the danger zone for comfort, Fylde and Darlington Mowden Park were involved in a very close contest. Half-time saw the sides locked at 14-apiece before an early second-half try saw Park take the lead. However, two quick tries by the home side put them ahead and they held on for a crucial bonus point win, although Park did manage a losing point. They remain in 12th and 13th positions, but Fylde are now eight points clear of the danger zone with Darlington Mowden Park now only three points ahead of Hull Ionians in the relegation zone.