With many eye-catching fixtures surrounding teams at the top of their respective tables between now and the end of the month, Round Nine’s set of results only added to the interest. (Photo Credit: Gareth Lyons)

National One

Sale FC inflicted a third straight defeat on Rams RFC as the North West club sealed a 29-17 victory at Heywood Road.

Rams had begun the afternoon in top spot but entered Round Nine on the back of successive defeats against Leicester Lions and Darlington Mowden Park respectively.

A penalty from Tom Curtis and a try from Cal Ford gave Sale an 8-7 lead at the break, with Max Hayman dotting down for Rams.

But the visitors were reduced to 14 men eight minutes into the second period when Dan Swain was sent off, and Rams were immediately punished as Andy Hughes scored Sale’s second try of the day.

Rams showed their character to nudge themselves ahead with Hayman going over again before Fraser Honey landed a penalty for a two-point lead, but tries from Josh Brown and Connor Doherty clinched it for Sale who are now off the bottom of the division.

A third successive loss for Rams allowed Plymouth Albion to move to the summit of National One following their 22-17 victory away at Chinnor. Ryan Lamb’s side have now won seven of their last eight games and sit one point clear at the top following their latest success.

Sedgley Park remain fourth in the table despite losing 25-18 to a Darlington Mowden Park outfit who are beginning to progress up the standings while fifth-placed Birmingham Moseley are now just seven points off the top as four tries from winger Aquile Smith helped them defeat Cinderford 34-14.

Elsewhere, Blackheath ended a run of back-to-back defeats as they saw off Richmond 21-17 at Well Hall, Rosslyn Park secured a second win on the spin after coming away from Leicester Lions with a 32-23 victory and Bishop’s Stortford halted a run of three straight losses by beating Taunton Titans 38-29.

National Two North

Leeds Tykes profited from a clinical first-half display to beat Wharfedale 20-8 and secure a 10th successive victory of the National Two North campaign.

Nuu Nuu gave the table-toppers an early lead and Leeds were able to build on that as Kieran Davies and Charlie Venables both touched down for a 17-0 advantage.

The sides exchanged penalties after the break via Sam Gaudie and Davies before Wharfedale got their first try of the evening through Thomas Darwin on 65 minutes.

However, it proved to be just a consolation as the hosts made it 10 wins from 10 in this all-Yorkshire affair.

With Pete Seabourne’s men unable to secure a bonus point for the first time this season, it meant second-placed Rotherham Titans edged closer to their title rivals after they clinched a 49-24 victory over Hull Ionians. The gap at the top is now six points and Gareth Lewis’ men also have a game in hand.

At the wrong end of the table, Huddersfield suffered a seventh consecutive defeat as the division’s bottom club were beaten 41-17 at home by Preston Grasshoppers. That result leaves Neil Ryan’s side 12 points behind Hull Ionians who are one place above Field in the standings.

Also across National Two North in Round Nine, Sheffield Tigers made it three wins on the spin as they defeated Billingham 35-25 while former Super League star Jamie Shaul shone for Hull in their 34-27 victory over Lymm. Elsewhere, there was more late drama involving Sheffield who snatched a 34-28 win away from Fylde and Otley recorded back-to-back successes at Cross Green after seeing off Tynedale 31-26.

National Two East

Dorking saw their winning start to the season come to an end against Bury St Edmunds as Jacob Ford’s men celebrated a 23-22 win in Surrey.

Armand Roux’s side were leading 10-0 inside just nine minutes after tries from Will Sanders and Tom Howe, but that advantage evaporated before half-time as George Loose and Will Attfield went over for the visitors while Ben Penfold added three points.

Bury suffered three yellow cards in the final 14 minutes of this contest but were still able to navigate their way to a victory. A Ben Kelland try as well as a penalty and a drop goal from Kodie Drury-Hawkins proved to be enough despite a late fightback from Dorking who secured two bonus points thanks to tries from Howe and Cameron Cowell.

Those aforementioned bonus points keeps Dorking on top of National Two East but only on points difference after Barnes (2nd) battled to a 36-30 win over Old Albanian. Esher are now just five points off the summit after making it three wins on the bounce by beating Tonbridge Juddians 48-31 while Henley Hawks stay fourth after their 29-23 victory away at Worthing Raiders.

North Walsham remain rooted to the foot of the division after losing 54-10 at home to Canterbury while elsewhere, Westcombe Park recorded their third triumph of the season after defeating Guernsey Raiders 25-19 and Sevenoaks sealed their first away success of the term following a 27-19 win at Wimbledon.

National Two West

Clifton lost ground in the National Two West title race as fly-half Ashley Groves kicked 10 points to guide Old Redcliffians to a 20-17 victory in this Bristol derby.

Groves sealed the win with a late penalty after Clifton had levelled things up on 68 minutes through Brad Talbot’s try.

Clifton centre Will Owen and Old Reds No.8 Dan Thurston scored tries while Groves kicked a conversion to nudge the hosts in front at half-time.

Finn Murphy and Tomos Ormsby swapped tries as the home side maintained their slender advantage before Groves’s first penalty of the afternoon made it 17-12.

Talbot did tie up the game with Clifton’s third try of the day but the boot of Groves clinched the win for Old Reds meaning the visitors are now eight points off the top of the table.

That is because league leaders Luctonians bounced back from Round Eight’s loss to Dings Crusaders as they clinched a hard-fought 32-26 victory over Camborne, who moved up to third despite their first defeat in six games.

The Cherry and Whites are now above Exeter University who were undone by the power of Redruth. Nigel Hambly’s boys dominated at scrum time to record a 29-22 victory while Dings Crusaders (5th) beat Bournville 24-17 thanks to a hat-trick from Gabriel Goss.

Meanwhile, Dudley Kingswinford are off the bottom after sealing a second victory of the season. The Midlands club beat Chester 26-17 meaning they have swapped places with Newport (Salop) who lost 38-16 away at Loughborough Students. Elsewhere, Hinckley and Hornets played out a 17-17 draw at Leicester Road.

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