Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Birmingham Moseley 19 21 Darlington Mowden Park attendance 678
Blackheath 15 33 Rosslyn Park 1187
Coventry Rugby 50 38 Hull Ionians highest 1286
Esher 15 46 Ampthill & District 434
Fylde 26 17 Blaydon 635
Hartpury College 45 36 Cambridge 324
Loughborough Students 18 20 Plymouth Albion lowest 207
Macclesfield 19 50 Old Albanian 296
Week 23 saw Hartpury College almost come unstuck against Cambridge, but no change in the order of the top five sides whilst in the bottom four sides all lost with only Hull Ionians getting a bonus point.
Leaders Hartpury College secured an early try bonus point against visitors Cambridge before defensive frailties let in the visitors for three first-half tries. Despite trailing 45-19 early into the second half, Cambridge took advantage of poor defence and complacency as another three tries almost brought them a shock win and a deserved try bonus to move them 16 points from danger and surely now safe.
Plymouth Albion struggled to beat a determined Loughborough Students side wanting to get back to winning ways. The Students went into a deserved half-time lead but Albion found their way in the second half before impressive home full-back Will Kaye scored a late try, the missed conversion denying them the draw they probably deserved.
It was another full-back who took the limelight as Steff Jones proved the catalyst for visitors Ampthill & District with his two tries in their in at Esher who remain too close to the danger zone for comfort. A close first half was followed by a more one-sided in the second with the hosts unable to score as Ampthill turned the screw with their dominant pack and finishing. The loss for Esher leaves them 11 points above the danger zone.
Leading 19-0 early in the second half, Birmingham Moseley collapsed at home to Darlington Mowden Park whose three converted tries gave them the win. Home matters were not helped by a yellow card for Jack Preece and a misfiring line-out as Park took second-half control. Some poor tactical decisions as Moseley went for the try bonus instead of kicking easy penalties didn’t help, and despite a star performance by fly-half James Williams, it wasn’t enough to prevent defeat.
Before a four-figure crowd, Blackheath succumbed to visiting Rosslyn Park who completed the double over them. An impressive Park start led to two early tries, and although Blackheath fought back, an early second half interception try by No.8 Hugo Ellis allowed Park to pull away. This win brings Rosslyn Park to within four points of Moseley in fourth place, but drops Blackheath down to seventh behind Coventry.
Another full-back stood out as four tries from Nick Foster set Old Albanian on their way to an overwhelming win over bottom side Macclesfield in Cheshire. The home side’s defence went missing as OA took advantage. The loss leaves Macclesfield now 14 points from safety, surely too much to catch up, whilst the win for OA moves them up two places to eighth
A disappointing result, if not that unexpected, for Blaydon as they went down at Fylde. Despite leading narrowly at half-time, helped by a dominant pack, poor discipline had let in Fylde for two tries. A better home second-half display saw Fylde gain their try bonus, leaving Blaydon with nothing and just one point ahead of the second relegation place.