We have new leaders at the top of National Two South once again as Old Elthamians moved to the summit after the opening weekend of matches in 2017.
This is the first time OEs have ever been top of the fourth-tier of English rugby and they achieved this by securing a victory over Clifton.
Promotion rivals Bishop’s Stortford and Chinnor have also been top of the tree on occasions during this campaign, but they are now both part of the chasing pack as they suffered defeats against Cinderford and Redruth respectively.
Fourth placed Taunton Titans also lost ground in the race for promotion as they had to settle for a draw against a spirited Barnes side who are battling against relegation.
Clifton 17-33 Old Elthamians
Old Elthamians moved to the top of National Two South for the first time in the clubs history with a commanding victory over Clifton at Station Road.
An early penalty try put the hosts ahead before Luke White crossed following a superb flowing move from OEs’ backs to give the visitors a narrow half-time lead.
The OEs threatened to cut loose after the break with Truman Sullivan going over before winger Alex Brown got in on the act.
However, Clifton refused to roll over and as a result; they were awarded their second penalty try of the afternoon five minutes from time.
But OEs were desperate for a bonus-point and they were able to clinch their fourth try of the afternoon two minutes from the end as Dom Lespierre pounced on a loose ball to score and send OEs to the summit.
Bishop’s Stortford 29-30 Cinderford
George Porter plunged over for a late try as Cinderford edged out Bishop’s Stortford in a thriller at Silver Leys.
Matthew Tomlinson (2) and Will Simmonds touched down for Stortford in the first-half, following an early score from Cinderford’s Harry Robinson.
A Jimmy Rea try extended the home sides’ lead to 29-11 just after the break, but Cinderford were in no mood to begin 2017 with a defeat and produced a stunning fightback.
James Moffatt converted Porter’s first score of the afternoon before Jimmy Williams crossed in the corner to reduce Stortford’s lead to just six points.
It was all Cinderford in the closing stages of this encounter and they were rewarded for their pressure when Porter crashed over for his second try to secure an unlikely win for the away side.
Redruth 29-12 Chinnor
Redruth got 2017 off to a winning start in National Two South after a superb victory over high-flying Chinnor at The Recreation Ground.
Scum-half Jack Oulton along with fellow backs Alex Ducker and Shaun Buzza scored first-half tries for The Reds with Joel Matavesi crossing for Redruth’s only score in the second period.
Brett Rule’s six points from the tee and a penalty from Angus Taylor helped keep the home side in control of this encounter throughout the afternoon.
Full-back Steven Castle and wing Luke Hibberd scored two late tries for the visitors with Basil Strang landing one conversion.
Taunton Titans 31-31 Barnes
Fraser Carlisle’s late try for Barnes denied Taunton Titans victory in National Two South at Hyde Park.
Barnes could have won the game with a difficult drop goal attempt, but it was pushed wide of the posts.
Nick Mason, Sean Lonsdale, Conor Harbison, Jon Gartford and Jack Owlett’s tries had given Taunton hope of moving to within just four points of the top two places.
But Barnes – who crossed through Robbie Martey and Edouard Alteirac in the first half – battled back with a James Hersey try and Carlisle’s late score to snatch what could prove to be a vital draw for the away side in the battle to avoid the drop.
Canterbury 38-32 Barnstaple
Canterbury secured their eighth win in their last nine matches as they overcame Barnstaple in Kent.
After four Tom Best penalties and two from Barnstaple’s Issac Hydleman, a converted score from Nat Bayet gave the visitors a slender 13-12 advantage at the break.
Hugh McCormick’s try for Canterbury put them ahead after the interval, but a score from Ben Hilton edged Barum back in front.
However, three quick-fire tries from Tom Burns, Will Farris and Guy Hilton was enough to secure the victory for Canterbury, but the visitors grabbed two bonus points thanks to a second try from Hilton and Ryan Carter’s late converted score which was another to move them out of the drop zone.
Henley Hawks 17-12 Redingensians
Henley Hawks clinched a tense victory over the Redingensians at Dry Leas to move six points clear of the relegation zone.
A brace from Liam O’Neil and a penalty try had the hosts 17-0 ahead at the break, with the Rams failing to make any inroads in the first period.
However, it was a different story in the second 40 as Jak Rossiter and Colin Thompson scored either side of the hour to leave the Redingensians just five points behind their hosts with 15 minutes left to play.
The Rams continued to pile pressure on the Henley defence, but the home side held firm to secure their third straight home victory.
Worthing Raiders 20-23 Bury St Edmunds
Bury St Edmunds battled to a narrow win at Worthing Raiders after the hosts were reduced to 12 men in the final quarter of the match.
Scott Lyle touched down and landed a penalty to put Bury ahead, before Matt McLean and Kariym Irving both went over with McLean adding three points from the tee to put the Raiders 15-8 in front at the break.
Lyle reduced Worthing’s advantage with another penalty after the interval, but Irving grabbed his second try on his debut to increase the Raiders’ lead to nine points.
But two yellow cards shown to Liam Perkins and Ryan Storer allowed Bury back into this match. Storer’s dismissal came after the visitors were awarded a penalty try meaning Worthing had to play the final nine minutes with 13 men.
It got worse for the hosts when Jon Whittall was sin-binned and the weight in numbers eventually told as Sam Sterling crossed in the corner to earn Bury the victory.
London Irish Wild Geese 59-34 Exmouth
London Irish Wild Geese are now four points clear of the relegation places in National Two South after a win against bottom of the table Exmouth.
Wild Geese had the four-try bonus point bagged by the 26th minute thanks to Dan Grant-Adamson (2), Andy Evans George Owen.
Flanker Tyler Bush as well as Ciaran O’Duffy, Sean Cunningham (2) and Tom Barker added more tries for the dominant home side who clinched their second home win on the trot.
Exmouth battled gamely and registered second-half tries through Oli Rice (2), Dave Bargent and Charlie Gibbings which added to their first half efforts from Isaac Dalton and Gibbings.