Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Birmingham Moseley 38 19 Hull Ionians attendance 796
Blackheath 47 14 Fylde 552
Darlington Mowden Park 14 12 Ampthill & District 777
Hartpury College 66 24 Esher 327
Loughborough Students 52 34 Blaydon lowest 113
Macclesfield 14 37 Coventry Rugby 434
Old Albanian 26 24 Cambridge 419
Rosslyn Park 17 10 Plymouth Albion highest 940
Week 17 saw only Coventry Rugby getting an away win, whilst leaders Hartpury College went on their inexorable way – increasing their lead to 23 points, whilst the chasing pack of six are now only separated by 12 points with both Coventry and Rosslyn Park making a run up the table.
The bottom five teams all lost, and the five teams trying the avoid the final relegation spot are only separated by five points.
Hartpury College duly had their try bonus point sorted by the end of the first quarter as visitors Esher had no defensive answer in a first half which left them trailing 40-12. A sloppy second half somewhat restricted the home score, but with ten tries overall, Hartpury were comfortable winners. A try bonus point for Esher took them five points clear of the danger zone.
Birmingham Moseley regained second spot with their own try bonus victory at home over a Hull Ionians side back in 14th place and unable to get a point. A bright first half saw Moseley in full control, helped by the effective kicking of fly-half James Williams. A spirited fightback in the 2nd period by Ionians wasn’t enough as Moseley went up two places in the table but remain 23 points behind the leaders.
Blackheath also moved up two places to third with their comprehensive bonus point victory over a travelling Fylde side still unable to match their home record. Five tries up by half-time, Blackheath seemingly shrugged off the mid-season loss of two coaches as Fylde were outgunned in the pack, giving the home side plenty of scoring opportunities. Fylde now drop to 12th, only seven points from the danger zone.
As expected, it was a close game when Plymouth Albion visited Rosslyn Park. Level at half-time with Albion having the bulk of possession, it was excellent home defence that kept the visitors out. Park held on to win after a nervous second half, defeat for Albion dropping them down two places to fourth while Park continue to challenge for the top six.
Darlington Mowden Park gave themselves a breather towards the wrong end of the table with a close-fought win over Ampthill & District, who drop two places to fifth as a result of the loss. Drawing 7-ll at half-time, it took a late try to seal it for Park thanks to a crucial conversion by Josh Bragman, a feat he is becoming renowned for. This win takes Park up a place to 11th and now eight points above the relegation zone.
Loughborough Students came back from a 17-12 half-time deficit to earn an emphatic win over game but ultimately outclassed Blaydon. The Students got their act together in the second half, running in a further zix tries, and although Blaydon had two of their own in the second period to give them a try bonus point, it was not enough to trouble the overall result. The win moves the Students to within four points of Rosslyn Park, but the loss leaves Blaydon now 12 points from safety.
As expected, Old Albanian and Cambridge had a close game which was all-square at 17-17 at half-time and appeared to lie between the try-scoring ability of the visitors and the effective kicking of OA’s fly-half Ben Palmer. Palmer’s 16 points countered Cambridge’s four tries as OA held on the for a four-point win. Cambridge, to their credit, gained two bonus points which leaves the two occupying ninth and tenth places.