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


Ampthill & District  (1)         7       8       (4)     Cambridge                      attendance         357

Birmingham Moseley  (1)   25     27     (5)      Bishop’s Stortford                                        665

Blackheath    (5)                   39     24     (1)      Darlington Mowden Park                           787

Coventry Rugby  (5)             36       0     (0)      Loughborough Students         (H)             1552

Hull Ionians      (5)                 33     14    (0)      Fylde                                           (L)                255

Old Albanian        ((5)            29     15    (0)      Esher                                                                320

Plymouth Albion   (2)            17     17    (2)      Old Elthamians                                            1120

Rosslyn Park    (5)                   36     32    (2)      Caldy                                                                400


WEEK 8  saw some unexpected results, helped in some measure by how teams dealt with ‘Brian’. Of the top five sides, only the leaders and Blackheath won with Coventry moving six points clear at the top and increasing the spread from first to fifth to 10 points. The two bottom clubs, Fylde and Loughborough Students both lost, but a win for Hull Ionians puts them just one point from safety.

Blackheath maintained their fine form with a bonus point home victory over Darlington Mowden Park. A great start by the hosts saw them run in three early tries, and with Joe Tarrant in fine kicking form they led 22-5 at half-time. A fightback by the visitors brought them within range before two late tries sealed it for Blackheath who moved up two places to second while DMP dropped down to fourth.

Before a four-figure crowd Plymouth Albion were surprised by the experience of their visitors Old Elthamians. With the wind in the first half Albion struggled and made too many errors, and a 12-7 half-time lead was not enough. OE went into the lead and it looked like Albion would lose their unbeaten home record until a late try gave them the draw. It was a game which could have gone either way, The draw drops Albion down to third and moves OE up one place to seventh.

Also affected by the gales were Ampthill & District who were beaten by Cambridge. Even with the wind the home side were only able to score one try in the first period as they made too many unforced errors and came across a Cambridge side that excelled in defence. The second half saw Cambridge control possession, but they were unable to score until the 71st minute when an Albert Portsmouth try brought them within two points. From the restart Cambridge kicked a penalty to give them the win. Although remaining in fifth place Ampthill are now ten points behind the leaders.

Bishop’s Stortford must like the Midlands as they came away with a try bonus point win at Birmingham Moseley. With the wind, BS went into a half-time lead of 12-6 whch soon increased to 17-6 early in the second half. Three unanswered tries saw Moseley take the lead as the home pack started to get on top, but a typical scrum-half’s try by Alex Patton won it for the visitors.

Rosslyn Park managed a home bonus point win over Caldy, but not before a fight with the lead changing several times in a game which could have gone either way. As we have seen this season, Caldy never gave up and with a score of 29-all a late Caldy penalty seemed to have won it before a Park surge led to an even later penalty try to see them home. The win moves Park up two places to tenth, one place above Caldy.

Two struggling sides, Old Albanian and Esher fought out another close game which could have tipped either way until late in the second half. A narrow half-time lead for the visitors was soon overtaken in the second period as the more dominant home pack took charge, helped in no small way by some good defensive work. The win moves OA to 12th place and drops Esher to 13th, just one point above the relegation zone.

Putting even more pressure on Esher were Hull Ionians whose try bonus win over bottom side Fylde saw them move to within one point from safety. Ionians were good value for their half-time lead of 18-7 before a try brought Fylde back to within four points. Two trademark drive and maul tries from the line-out secured the home side’s crucial win but put Fylde nine points from safety.