Old Redcliffians out to the cut the gap
Like in National Two North this weekend, there is an important fixture towards the bottom of National Two South as two sides fighting to avoid the drop clash in Round 19.
Following their victory over Broadstreet last Saturday, Clifton were able to distance themselves from the bottom three, but they have another wonderful opportunity to create some more breathing space when they take on Old Redcliffians.
Old Reds are nine points behind Clifton as things stand and after losing to Canterbury in Round 18, the men from Scotland Lane know just how crucial this fixture in Bristol will be as they aim to dig themselves out of trouble.
Their fellow relegation rivals, Wimbledon and Broadstreet, face tough assignments this Saturday as the Dons host Bury St Edmunds while Street welcome Henley Hawks to the Midlands.
At the summit of this division, Cinderford be will be aiming to keep on top of the pile, but they face a stern test against third placed Redingensians and if Paul Morris’ were to slip-up, then Chinnor may strike if they are able to get their job done at home against Worthing Raiders.
Elsewhere in National Two South, fourth travels to fifth as Taunton Titans take on Redruth while Canterbury go to Barnstaple and London Irish Wild Geese entertain Tonbridge Juddians.
Cinderford v Redingensians
Cinderford sealed yet another bonus-point win last weekend, making it 12 on the spin, to keep them on top of National Two South. A solid victory over London Irish Wild Geese meant the Foresters are still four points clear at the summit and with second placed Chinnor to come next weekend, they face another tough challenge this Saturday when Redingensians visit Dockham Road.
After last Saturday’s thriller against Chinnor. The Rams are away to top of the table @cinderfordrfc on 20th Jan.
KO 14:30 at Dockham Road, Cinderford if you are a travelling supporter or follow the scores as they happen on twitter and Facebook. #Jointherampage pic.twitter.com/Bk9nrsEdoA
— Redingensians Rams (@Rams_RFC) January 17, 2018
Redingensians currently lie third in the table and take the trip to Gloucestershire after an enthralling game with Chinnor in Round 18. The Rams narrowly lost out 31-29 and they now sit 12 points off Chinnor, but they once again have a chance to potentially open the door to a possible top two finish this Saturday. Owen Root’s side have had a remarkable season – which is highlighted by the fact they have won 11 of their last 13 matches – so to become only the second side to beat Cinderford this term is certainly not out of the question.
Chinnor v Worthing Raiders
It was the ideal response for Chinnor last Saturday. To beat the Redingensians was never going to be easy, especially on the back of a surprising defeat against London Irish Wild Geese, but Matt Williams’ side ground out the victory to keep their title ambitions alive and kicking. The Oxfordshire outfit remain four points behind Cinderford, but Chinnor now have a 12-point cushion between themselves and the rest of the field. Back at Kingsey Road this weekend, they will be hoping to make amends from their last home outing as they look to keep the pressure on the league leaders.
Two weeks ago Chinnor had not lost at home since January 2016, but Worthing Raiders visit this weekend knowing their hosts are now not invincible in front of their own supporters. Jody Levett’s side arrive at Kingsey Road in fine fettle as the Raiders have won five of their last eight matches which has seen them move up seventh place and on the cusp of the top five. It has been a mightily impressive season by Worthing considering they were on the verge of relegation last term so a win at Chinnor in Round 19 would continue their excellent campaign.
Redruth v Taunton Titans
It is fourth against fifth in National Two South this Saturday as Taunton Titans take the trip to Cornwall to face Redruth. The Titans look to be heading in the right direction once again after a spluttering festive period. Three straight victories, including a 66-15 thrashing of Wimbledon, has seen Tony Yapp’s side recover from two wins in seven matches and they are now looking good for the top four.
Fourteen points is the gap between Redruth and Taunton heading into this clash at the Recreation Ground so the hosts will know if they are to finish a place higher than last season, then victory this weekend is key. Pale Nonu’s side could do with a win following back to back defeats to begin 2018 against Worthing Raiders and Wimbledon respectively. The Reds have won eight of their nine games on home turf so they may well be confident of triumphing again in front of their own supporters.
Wimbledon v Bury St Edmunds
Bury St Edmunds returned to winning ways in Round 18 mainly thanks to a commanding first half display against Barnstaple. The Wolfpack were clinical in securing their 10th win of the campaign and they are now level on points with fifth placed Redruth. Ollie Smith and his coaching staff have done a fine job in steering Bury back into the top half of the division and they could find themselves in fifth spot if they are able to secure their first away since the end of October.
Here is the Bury St Edmunds team that will travel to @WimbledonRFC tomorrow for a 2PM kick off for round 19 of #Nat2S
Congratulations to 18-year-old Levi Roper who will make his debut for the #Wolfpack pic.twitter.com/C0GqvoqLsN
— Bury St Edmunds Rugby (@BSERugby) January 19, 2018
That stat may well give Wimbledon a lift heading into this clash. Bury have lost their last four games on the road so the Dons may look to capitalise as they go in search of important victories. After their brilliant result against Redruth at the start of the month, the South-West London side were brought back down to earth as they were humbled by Taunton Titans last weekend. The division’s bottom club have given themselves a chance of survival with two wins from their last four games and a third victory in just under a month could be vital if they are to overturn a 16-point deficit between themselves and the final safety spot.
Barnstaple v Canterbury
Canterbury were able to put a stop to a four game losing streak last weekend as they came out on top against Old Redcliffians. The City Men secured their first victory since the beginning of December to move up to eighth place in the table so Andy Pratt’s side will be hoping their latest win at the Marine Travel Ground can be the catalyst for the rest of their campaign. The Kent-outfit have won four times on the road this season and they may feel they can add to that this weekend when they visit a Barnstaple side desperate to return to winning ways.
Barum Chairman Jeremy Chugg said the Devonshire club need to start performing for a full 80 minutes rather than just 40, following their latest defeat to Bury St Edmunds. Steve Perry’s side have had their injury problems, but Barnstaple come into this fixture having not won in five matches and they are now 12th in the table. Granted, they are still12 points clear of the relegation places, but Barum will be keen to halt their downturn in form sooner, rather than later.
Broadstreet v Henley Hawks
Henley Hawks travel to Broadstreet this weekend looking to reignite their strong campaign. Pete Davies side have lost their last three matches with their latest defeat coming against Tonbridge Juddians at Dry Leas. The Hawks have slipped into the bottom half during this mini-blip in form, but they may fancy their chances of securing their first win in 2018 against a Broadstreet side fighting to stay in this division.
Defeat at Clifton last Saturday was a blow to Broadstreet’s survival chances. After an excellent win over Canterbury, Paul Hurst’s side knew a win in Gloucestershire would have given them a real chance of avoiding immediate relegation back down to the fifth tier, but a narrow loss means Street are now 12 points from safety. Yes, it is far from over for the Midlands club and a second home win on the trot could breathe new optimism into their campaign.
London Irish Wild Geese v Tonbridge Juddians
Out of the four sides that were promoted into National Two South at the beginning of the season, Tonbridge Juddians are enjoying their time at this level the most. The Kent side currently occupy 10th spot in the table and head into the penultimate weekend of January having won four games on the spin. The men from the Slade have been superb this term and they will be eager to extend their winning run when they travel to London Irish Wild Geese.
It has been quite a couple of weeks for London Irish Wild Geese. A stunning performance away at Chinnor saw Lee Starling’s side become the first team to beat the Black and Whites at Kingsey Road for just under two years before a spirited display against the league leaders Cinderford ended in defeat. Coming away from those two fixtures with five points would have delighted the Hazlewood faithful as Wild Geese sit 14 points clear of the drop zone and they will be keen to carry the positives from their performances against the frontrunners, into this fixture against another side in-form.
Old Redcliffians v Clifton
Last weekend’s win over Broadstreet was most welcome and must needed for Clifton. Darren Lloyd’s side edged a tense contest to secure their first victory in seven matches and more importantly, they increased the distance between themselves and the relegation places to nine points. The Lavender and Blacks passed one test against a rival for survival and they have another similar hurdle to overcome this weekend.
Match Report: Bonus point win breaks Clifton's losing streakhttps://t.co/7XtJzisD0x
— Clifton Rugby (@cliftonrugby) January 13, 2018
Clifton take the trip to Old Redcliffians this Saturday with the home side aiming to increase pressure on their visitors once again. After the first round of fixtures in 2018, Old Reds were closing in on the final safety spot, but a defeat at Canterbury last weekend means Clifton have been able to pull away ever so slightly. The men from Scotland Lane must target this game to clinch a third win of the campaign because a defeat would leave them with some work to do in their battle to avoid the drop.