Tom Little’s review of the rest of last weekend’s National League One action
Ampthill & District (5) 28 24 (1) Old Albanians attendance lowest 311
Caldy (5) 37 19 (0) Fylde 423
Cambridge (1) 9 14 (4) Loughborough Students 412
Coventry Rugby (5) 50 11 (0) Birmingham Moseley highest 2242
Hull Ionians (0) 15 27 (5) Darlington Mowden Park 424
Old Elthamians (1) 13 19 (4) Bishops Stortford 688
Plymouth Albion (5) 43 10 (0) Esher 1060
Rosslyn Park (0) 6 25 (4) Blackheath 550
WEEK two saw some games hit by squalls and wind which did have a knock-on effect on scores and performances. The only surprises as such were the size of Coventry’s win over Moseley, the narrowness of Ampthill’s win over Old Albanian and Cambridge losing at home.
There were two four-figure attendances, at Plymouth Albion and at Coventry where the crowd was larger than at any of the Championship games.
For those on the lookout for trends, for the second week running there were only four home wins. Too early to say whether this is a trend or a quirk of the fixtures, but one trend that is apparent is that in close games you need a reliable goalkicker.
The only side to match Coventry’s 100% record is Darlington Mowden Park whose bonus point win at Hull Ionians moves them up to second place but drops the home side to the bottom of the table. For the second week running it was the experience and control of fly-half Warren Seals which proved the difference as the power of Park’s side took over in the second half.
League newcomers Bishop’s Stortford maintained their winning ways over another promoted side, Old Elthamians at Grove Park. A tight game in poor conditions saw the goalkicking of fly-half George Cullen prove decisive as the away side put in a tremendous defensive performance in the second half to deny OE their first win of the season.
In some quarters the home defeat of Rosslyn Park by Blackheath was deemed a surprise, but Blackheath have recruited well for this season and are expected to mount a challenge for the title. Blackheath were far more efficient and clinical in their finishing, helped for the second week running by the boot of Joe Tarrant. Park, although having chances, lacked the finishing prowess to trouble their visitors.
A large crowd saw hosts Plymouth Albion back on track with a bonus win over Esher. The home pack was in fine attacking form and Esher had few answers to their pace and power as Albion ran in four first-half tries. Three further tries were added after the interval as the home side ran out comfortable winners over an Esher side that could not live up to their home performance the previous week.
There was almost, but not quite, a shock in Bedfordshire as Ampthill & District came from 14-0 behind to gain a bonus point win over visiting Old Albanian. Four new players for OA stiffened their resolve after the previous Saturday’s hammering by Rosslyn Park, but they couldn’t maintain their early momentum, especially as only able to name a 19-man squad. In the end it was a brace of tries from Ampthill’s new signing, flanker/lock Syd Blackmore that made the difference.
League newcomers Caldy proved there is no substitute for experience as they secured a bonus point home win over fellow north-westerners Fylde who, having lost a host of experienced and long-established players pre-season, could not match the intensity of the hosts with fly-half Rhys Hays pulling the strings. Three first-half tries set Caldy on the way despite tries from Fylde youngsters, wing Tom Carleton and centre Connor Wilkinson. A deserved win for Caldy despite Fylde taking on two more dual registered/loan players from Sale Sharks.
Again in poor conditions, there was something of a surprise as Cambridge suffered a narrow home defeat to Loughborough Students. It was another close game with defences on top, and one which was only settled in the final quarter with the only try of the game scored by the impressively-named Students centr,e Oskar Hirskvi-Douglas.