Teams at the wrong end of the table will be eager to begin October on the front foot while in National Two West, the leading pair collide in Devon. (Photo Credit: Andrew McCumiskey)

National One

After a dream start to life in National One, Leicester Lions will be hoping October can begin in a similar fashion as Gareth Collins’ side look to halt a run of four straight defeats.

Their superb 23-19 win against Sale FC in Round One was arguably the result of the opening day but since then, the Lions have been brought back down to earth having only managed to register a single point for the rest of September. Granted, the Midlands outfit have played three of the current top-four sides so perhaps a visit to Billesley Common will provide them with some better fortunes.

Hosts Birmingham Moseley will be quick to shut that notion down with Adam Balding’s side aiming to return to the winners’ lounge after a tough loss against Bishop’s Stortford in Round Five. After racing into a 17-0 lead, Moseley saw that advantage disappear as they fell to a 29-22 loss at Silver Leys so they will be itching for an immediate reaction against the division’s bottom club.

Just above Leicester Lions are Taunton Titans and even though they are yet to record a victory this term, they aren’t rooted to the foot of the table. Tony Yapp’s men have collected six points from their opening five games – including two against league leaders Rams RFC last week – so they will be keen to turn those small positives into a maiden win when they travel to Sedgley Park (7th) on Saturday.

Sale FC are the other club currently in the bottom three at this early stage, but the North-West side enter October in better spirits after opening their account against Blackheath last week. However, Jonathan Keep’s troops take the trip to an in-form Plymouth Albion (2nd) in Round Six, who will be targeting a fifth victory on the spin.

Albion will want to keep table-toppers Rams in their sights with Seb Reynolds’ men aiming for their sixth successive bonus-point triumph when they host Bishop’s Stortford this weekend while third-placed Richmond entertain Darlington Mowden Park and two teams who have made steady starts to the season – Rosslyn Park and Chinnor – meet at The Rock.

National Two North

Opportunity knocks this weekend for National Two North duo Huddersfield and Tynedale and both will be keen to kickstart their respective campaigns after a tough September.

The division’s bottom two meet in the North-East with the hosts looking to record their first victory of the season. Five straight defeats have left Tyne propping up the league but looking at things from a positive perspective, they have managed to register six bonus points, leaving them level with Saturday’s opponents Huddersfield.

Last term, Field had a difficult start but managed to pull clear from danger in the second half of the campaign, and Neil Ryan’s men will want to avoid any recovery acts in 2023-24. Their only win in September came away at Lymm so more joy on the road would be the ideal start to October for Huddersfield.

Hovering just above Tynedale and Huddersfield are Otley, who will also be keen to put a challenging start behind them and focus on the next two weeks before the first break in the season. However, that might be easier said than done with the Yorkshire outfit travelling to an in-form Wharfedale (3rd) who will be targeting a fourth successive win and a third home victory on the trot.

Dale are nestled in behind pacesetters Leeds Tykes and Rotherham Titans who will both be eyeing up a sixth consecutive triumph. The Tykes are yet to drop a point in 2023-24 and they take their unblemished record to Sheffield Tigers while Rotherham face a potentially tricky test against Fylde (4th) at Clifton Lane.

Elsewhere, two clubs who concluded last month with a win – Preston Grasshoppers and Hull – meet at Lightfoot Green, Billingham will be out to secure a third home win on the bounce when they entertain Hull Ionians while Lymm take on Sheffield with a hat-trick of victories in their radar.

National Two East

Like in National Two North, it is an early season basement battle in National Two East with Sevenoaks taking on North Walsham at Knole Paddock. Heading into this weekend, there is just one win between the two sides with that being attributed to Sevenoaks after their opening day success against Canterbury.

Both clubs managed to navigate themselves away from danger last term and Adam Bowman’s side will hope last Saturday’s encouraging showing against Henley Hawks can provide Oaks with some plus points to carry into Round Six. Perhaps the same can be said for a youthful North Walsham who were much improved in Round Five against Barnes and despite the 36-0 scoreline, Niall Lear’s men may well be buoyed by their showing.

North Walsham also won both fixtures with Sevenoaks last season so can they add to that record and open their account for 2023-24?

A new-look Worthing Raiders squad still seem to be settling, and the team just above the aforementioned bottom two will be hoping for slightly better fortunes in October after just one win from their first five matches. They begin the month by hosting a Guernsey Raiders side who not only clinched a first away win since January last time out, but also scooped up the Player of the Week award for National Two East and the Try of the Week Award for Round Five.

On to the summit of the division where league leaders Dorking will be going for six in a row when they visit Canterbury while second-placed Barnes travel to Westcombe Park and Esher (3rd) – who will be aiming for a fifth successive triumph – go to Bury St Edmunds (6th).

Arguably the other standout fixture in National Two East this weekend is when the in-form duo of Henley Hawks (4th) and Tonbridge Juddians (5th) meet at Dry Leas while Old Albanian face Wimbledon at Woollams.

National Two West

Easing ourselves into October isn’t an option in National Two West as we kick off the month with a match-up between the top two: Luctonians and Exeter University. They, along with Rams RFC, Leeds Tykes, Rotherham Titans and Dorking, are the only clubs across National League Rugby yet to suffer a defeat but that is likely to change (watch it be a draw now!) in Round Six.

After finishing last season in fourth place, it is safe to say Lucs haven’t rested on their laurels as five bonus-point wins leaves them on top of the pile ahead of their trip to Devon. Charlie Grimes and Ben Link, among others, have been in blistering form so Exeter will have to stop Luctonians’ key men if they themselves are to make it six from six.

Juggling their National League Rugby commitments with BUCS Super Rugby might be a difficult balancing act for some but Exeter have been supremely strong on both fronts so far, and victory at Topsham on Saturday would only reaffirm that. Gareth Elliott’s troops lost both encounters against Luctonians last term so can they change that statistic and move to the top of the standings?

Clifton are the nearest challengers to the leading pair and they will be eager to return to winning ways after seeing their unbeaten record come to an end in Round Five. This weekend, the Lavender and Blacks host Hornets while fourth-placed Hinckley travel to Camborne (5th) in what should be an intriguing clash at Crane Park.

Elsewhere, Chester will be looking to build on a steady start by clinching a third home win on the spin against Redruth, Dings Crusaders entertain Dudley Kingswinford, Old Redcliffians go to Newport (Salop) and Loughborough Students take on Bournville with both sides aiming for a welcome victory.

Make sure you follow National League Rugby on social media across the course of the season!

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube | TikTok | Threads