National Two South league leaders Rams RFC enter the second-third of the campaign in control of the promotion race as they currently sit seven points clear at the top of the division.
This Saturday, they face a test of their title credentials as they travel to third placed Taunton Titans while down at the bottom, it is just as intriguing.
Relegation rivals Old Redcliffians and Guernsey meet in Bristol with both sides keen to begin the run-up to Christmas with a vital victory while their fellow clubs towards the foot of the table, London Irish Wild Geese, Birmingham & Solihull and Clifton all face tricky fixtures in Round 11.
Elsewhere in National Two South, Tonbridge Juddians take the trip to Dings Crusaders, Redruth host Bury St Edmunds and an in-form Barnes outfit go to Worthing Raiders.
Taunton Titans v Rams RFC
After a week off in National Two South, the action resumes once again this Saturday and Taunton Titans’ clash with Rams RFC is the perfect place to begin. The Rams currently top the division by seven points and Seb Reynolds’ side are firmly in the promotion driving seat after 10 games this season.
It’s hard to think we are already 10 rounds into the National League season…
??Ian Carter, Steve Wells, Tim Pitfield pic.twitter.com/WWyDiDZnBc
— NCA Rugby (@nca_rugby) November 9, 2018
The Berkshire club have won their last six matches and have lost just once all term, but they travel to Somerset this weekend for what will be a tough assignment against Taunton. The Titans are also in the promotion picture as Tony Yapp’s men sit one point behind second placed Henley Hawks, but they fell out of the top two places last time out following a surprising loss against Barnes. Taunton have an unwanted habit of suffering dips in form around the Christmas period so they will be keen to return to winning ways on Saturday as they look to strengthen their promotion bid.
Birmingham and Solihull v Henley Hawks
Henley Hawks will be scanning for updates from Somerset throughout the afternoon on Saturday, but Nigel Dudding’s side will also be focused on getting their own job done this weekend. The men from Dry Leas entered last week’s break in fine form having won their last six matches and they now sit in second place as we approach Round 11 in the campaign.
The Hawks are mounting their first serious promotion challenge since relegation from National One in 2016 and they will be hot favourites to continue their momentum when they visit Birmingham and Solihull on Saturday. The Bees currently sit in the bottom three, but they are only four points from safety thanks to back to back away wins over rivals Guernsey and London Irish Wild Geese. Pete Glackin’s side will be pleased with those results against the teams around them, but they will be fully aware of the tough task which faces them this weekend. Could the Midlands side upset the applecart at Portway?
Canterbury v London Irish Wild Geese
Like the aforementioned Henley Hawks, Canterbury are also flying at present. The City Men have won four of their last five matches and their excellent form has allowed them to throw their hat into the promotion ring. Andy Pratt’s side are now just two points off Henley and they will be keen to stay within touching distance of the Hawks when they take on London Irish Wild Geese in Round 11.
In terms of the Wild Geese, they slipped back to the foot of National Two South at the beginning of the month after suffering a frustrating defeat against Birmingham and Solihull. The reason why the loss would have annoyed Lee Starling and his side is because the men from Hazelwood had picked up back to back wins which had kickstarted their campaign following seven straight losses. However, Wild Geese now need to regroup because they are only five points off safety and victory in Kent this weekend would certainly put that recent loss to Birmingham and Solihull to one side.
Dings Crusaders v Tonbridge Juddians
Following successive defeats towards the end of October, Tonbridge Juddians would have been pleased to conclude the first-third of the campaign with consecutive victories. Peter Dankert’s side beat Guernsey and Old Redcliffians at the Slade and now TJs sit fifth in the table and seven points off the top two. The Kent-outfit are once again having another solid season at this level and they will be keen to make it three wins in a row when they take the trip to Dings Crusaders in Round 11.
— Dings Crusaders RFC (@DingsCrusaders) November 16, 2018
After 10 games this term, Dings may well be satisfied with the progress they have made since promotion from South West Premier. Luke Arscott’s men are 10th in the table after five wins and five defeats, but importantly for the Crusaders, is the fact that they are 10 points clear of the bottom three. Dings’ form has dipped slightly in recent weeks after just two victories from their last five games, but back at Shaftesbury Park, they will be hoping to secure their first triumph in just under a month.
Clifton v Old Albanian
Old Albanian produced arguably their best performance of the season in Round 10 as they defeated Redruth to secure back to back wins. It has been far from plain sailing for Gavin Hogg’s men since relegation from National One, but OAs seemed to click into gear last time out and now the Hertfordshire outfit are up to sixth in the table.
They are nine points off the top two so there is still work to be done if they are harbouring any promotion hopes, but their immediate aim will be to try and seal a third consecutive win for the first time since March when they take on Clifton. In terms of the hosts, they find themselves in a very similar position once again. Matt Salter’s men are five points clear of the relegation places and just one win from their last six games is a main reason behind that. The Lavender and Blacks face four sides in the top half of the table between now and Christmas so they will be eager to try and end this blip in form as quickly as possible.
Redruth v Bury St Edmunds
Redruth began this season on fire. Just one defeat from their first seven games meant Pale Nonu’s side were firmly in the promotion mix, but since then, a dip in form has really hampered their chances of challenging for a top two place. The Reds come into this fixture with Bury St Edmunds having lost their last three matches and it means the men from the Rec are now nine points behind second placed Henley Hawks. However, they may see this clash with Bury St Edmunds as the perfect opportunity to turn their fortunes in their favour.
Since the last round of action at the start of the month, Bury have parted ways with head coach Jon Curry. The reasons for his departure were because the club needed to realign its budget after sponsors withdrew from a coaching scheme, but also the club’s results played a part with the Wolfpack currently occupying 11th in the table after just four wins this term. Former coach Kevin Maggs will take lead on matchdays for Bury (with the help of Andy Herlihy and Craig Burrows) whilst the club look for a replacement for Curry and the trio will be aiming to end a run of three straight defeats this Saturday.
Worthing Raiders v Barnes
A lack of consistency for Worthing Raiders has held them back from pushing up the division so far this season and this week, head coach Jody Levett told the Worthing Herald that his side need to string some positive results together in the lead up to Christmas. The Raiders currently sit eighth in the table after five wins and five defeats so they will be keen to begin their winter fixtures with a home win over Barnes this Saturday.
The Raiders have lost just once at Roundstone Lane this term, but Barnes travel to Sussex in fine form. After confirming their promotion into this division back in April, the London-based side have certainly experienced the highs and lows on their return to National Two South. After losing five straight games, Barnes are now currently on a four-match winning streak which leaves them one place and one point behind their hosts this weekend. Barnes will be very pleased with their first-third of the campaign and they can continue their momentum with a fifth win on the spin in Round 11.
Old Redcliffians v Guernsey
Two of the sides embroiled in the early stages of the National Two South relegation battle meet at Scotland Lane this weekend as Old Redcliffians host Guernsey. Old Reds find themselves in the bottom three as things stand having picked up just one win all term. The Bristol-based club have also lost their last six matches, but they have not been too far away from their second victory of the season.
MATCH REPORT: Raiders 13 @cantrugby 15
Another gut-wrenching loss for Raiders who were on the verge of a third win until Canterbury produced a huge push to win a hard-fought, even game with a long-range pushover score under the posts.https://t.co/wbtr7hNb6J
— Guernsey Raiders (@GuernseyRFC) November 7, 2018
Old Reds’ recent performances have earnt them crucial bonus-points and despite their lack of wins, their encouraging displays leaves them only three points off safety. Sitting just above the drop zone are Guernsey who will be going in search of their third triumph of the campaign this weekend. Their previous two victories over Barnes and Clifton have helped them moved out of the drop zone and they may fancy their chances of adding another ‘W’ to the column, especially as Old Redcliffians are the only side in the division yet to win at home this term.