Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill & District 22(4) 10(0) Coventry Rugby attendance 738
Caldy 42(5) 18(0) Blackheath 550
Cambridge 22(0) 32(5) Esher 425
Darlington Mowden Park 40(5) 7(0) Fylde 933
Loughborough Students 32(5) 14(0) Bishop’s Stortford lowest 254
Old Elthamians 29(2) 34(5) Old Albanian 274
Plymouth Albion 28(5) 24(2) Birmingham Moseley highest 1563
Rosslyn Park 36(2) 37(4) Hull Ionians 350
ROUND 28 saw Coventry Rugby lose for only the 2nd time this season, to Ampthill whose win ensures they will finish in at least fourth place.
The real excitement as the season comes to its end is the fight over the final two relegation spots ,with the bottom three contenders all winning at the weekend.
The most predictable result of the round saw second-placed Darlington Mowden Park put six tries past bottom side Fylde, a win which means DMP only need four points from two games to confirm them as runners-up. Two first-half tries set Park on their way and the second period saw the floodgates open as they easily gained their bonus point win.
Plymouth Albion kept within sight of third place with their own try bonus win over visiting Birmingham Moseley. However, in a close, hard-fought battle Moseley led narrowly at half-time and seemed to be in control until a try by Matt Shepherd, in the seventh-minute of added time, saw the home side sneak the win. The two losing points gained by Moseley moved them back up to seventh place.
Blackheath, in fourth place, travelled to Caldy and were well beaten by the home side. A great start saw Caldy ahead 25-6 at half-time before they secured their bonus point in a more even second period, moving them up to ninth place, still needing one more win to confirm their status.
Old Albanian gained the required bonus point win away at Old Elthamians. A poor start by the home side saw them 13-0 down, but a more even end of the first period left the visitors with a narrow 20-14 lead. A fightback saw OEs take the lead late in the second half before a try by lock Ross Hamilton, gave OAs the win. Despite this OA are six points from safety and are still favourites for relegation.
Loughborough Students will be sniffing an escape route after their own bonus point win at home to Bishop’s Stortford. A narrow half-time lead of 10-7 increased rapidly in the second period as the Students took control. The loss drops BS down to eighth place, but more importantly leaves Students within three points of Hull Ionians with a game in hand.
Hull Ionians are not giving up their NL1 status without a fight. At Rosslyn Park they surged into a 24-7 half-time lead, helped by some poor discipline from the home side. However, the momentum didn’t continue as Park fought back and took the lead late on. We have seen this season that Ionians never give up and a last-gasp penalty gave them the win albeit without the bonus point. The result has brought another three sides into the fight to avoid relegation.
Out-of-sorts Cambridge slumped to another defeat against Esher, who also required the win to avoid being too close to the third relegation place. Esher were always in control as Cambridge made too many errors. The loss dropped Cambridge two places to 11th, six points ahead of relegation, whilst Esher are marginally better off being eight points clear.