Worthing Raiders and Dings Crusaders deliver blows in National Two East and West while Bladyon haven’t given up the fight in the North.
Debutant Zac Clow and Ollie Cole both scored twice as Rams RFC extended their lead at the top of National One with an eight-try 50-31 win over local rivals Chinnor.
After collecting a bonus point victory against Darlington Mowden Park at the start of the month, Seb Reynolds’ side secured yet another maximum as the Berkshire outfit moved six points clear at the summit.
On National League Rugby Live, the hosts were able to establish a lead of 24-7 thanks to tries from Ellis Jones, Axel Kalling-Smith, Cole and Clow.
Charles Robinson got one back for Chinnor to add to Willie Ryan’s opening score but James Baker and Clow made sure Rams held a 22-point advantage at the interval.
It was first blood to Chinnor after half-time with Ryan grabbing a second but it was Cole’s try which lit up Old Bath Road following Baker’s remarkable break and assist.
"You go through that space, and there's more space in front of you!"
Spoken like a true tighthead James Baker – but the scoring of that one was anything but.
— Jack Zorab 🇺🇦 (@Jack_Zorab) February 14, 2023
Max Hayman finished the scoring for Rams but a Chinnor side full of character were determined not to leave empty-handed and deservedly claimed a bonus point with Dean Hammond and Robinson going over in the final quarter.
Cambridge moved up to second in the league standings thanks to a late Ben Brownlie try against Bishop’s Stortford. The hooker claimed a hat-trick at Granchester Road in a 40-38 success but Richie Williams’ side had to recover from 22-7 down and 38-33 down to ensure they kept in touch with Rams.
Towards the wrong end of the table, Darlington Mowden Park have created an 11-point cushion between themselves and the bottom three after a comprehensive 53-16 victory over Hull. Yaree Fantini and Ben Frankland both grabbed doubles for DMP, who secured their first win for just over two months.
Taunton Titans – who are one of the sides currently in the bottom three – had to settle for two bonus points in 38-36 defeat to fifth-placed Cinderford. A topsy-turvy affair saw the hosts narrowly edga e it, but the Titans did have the chance to snatch a draw at Dockham Road but Shai Bonnick’s late score wasn’t converted.
National Two North
Fylde’s Greg Smith broke Preston Grasshoppers hearts and kept his side’s promotion ambitions firmly on track as his match-winning penalty clinched a 32-29 victory at Woodlands.
A brace from Preston winger Will Clapham had brilliantly levelled things up in this Lancashire derby but Smith kept his cool two minutes from time to snatch the win.
Fylde led 24-15 at half-time thanks to tries from Ben Turner, Jordan Dorrington, Cole Potts and Adam Lanigan but despite extending their lead through Oli Parkinson, Preston bounced back.
Clapham’s double added to earlier tries from Ben Dorrington and Harry Swarbrick to set up a tense finale but the second-placed side were able to claim the win to leave them one point off the top.
League leaders Sedgley Park were made to work hard by Chester but Scott Barrow’s troops eventually claimed a 31-18 win at Park Lane. This triumph was The Tigers’ 17th successive victory and with a trip to Fylde to come in two weeks time, they are yet to show any signs of taking their eyes off the promotion prize.
Down at the botton, Blaydon breathed new life into their survival hopes with a 31-24 win over North East rivals Tynedale.
After shipping 118 points and scoring zero in their previous two games, this was more like it from Sam Stuart’s side with James Cooney and John Clarkson helping themselves to tries in an excellent first half for Blaydon.
The result leaves them 13 points from safety while rivals Harrogate remain in the bottom two after losing 21-11 away at Wharfedale.
Elsewhere, centre Gavin Stead made sure Otley stretched their winning run to 10 matches as the third-placed side battled past Huddersfield to record a 29-22 victory at Lockwood Park while Gary Pearce secured his first win in charge of Rotherham Titans as they beat Hull Ionians 52-25 at Clifton Lane.
And a new record was set at Abbeydale Park as Sheffield Tigers’ Mark Ireland became the all-time record points scorer in National Two after guiding his side to a 30-21 away victory over near neighbours Sheffield.
National Two East
Worthing Raiders delivered a setback to Dorking’s possible title hopes with a 35-26 victory in Sussex.
Dorking – who began the afternoon second in the National Two East standings – led 19-7 midway through the first half as Jasper King, Fred Dalton and George Jackson all went over.
The hosts roared back as Connor Slevin and Elliott Luke put Worthing in front before half-time but the away side were equal to it after the interval as Stephen Howorth dived over to put Dorking back ahead.
📺 The National League Rugby Review Show: Worthing dent Dorking hopes
After another brilliant weekend of action, @c_heal wraps up the biggest moments.
— National League Rugby (@Natleague_rugby) February 13, 2023
But it was Worthing who landed the decisive blow as James Forrester’s neat finish and a close-range effort from Caleb Ashworth clinched the victory for Worthing whilst Dorking departed Roundstone Lane 13 points adrift of table-toppers Blackheath.
That is because ‘Club’ picked up a bonus point 36-12 triumph over Sevenoaks at Well Hall to extend their winning run to eight matches. As for Sevenoaks, the result keeps them five points clear of the bottom two after North Walsham were beaten 47-12 at home by a Bury St Edmunds side who were inspired by hat-trick hero Matt Bursey.
Finally in National Two East, Max Titchener was the star for Henley Hawks as he supplied 17 points in their 32-8 win against Old Albanian.
National Two West
Dings Crusaders dented Clifton’s National Two West promotion ambitions with a narrow 27-26 victory after pulsating Bristol derby at Station Road.
Dings had jumped out to a 17-0 lead after 20 minutes as Lewis Beer and Soloman Taufa crossed for the visitors.
But a brace from Brad Talbot kept Clifton in the contest going into the break. Tom Anderson then dotted down to keep the Crusaders in front but the home side responded with scores from Alex Howman and Andrew Davies.
It meant Clifton held a 26-24 advantage, and the final 10 minutes became a story of kicks from the tee. Dings’ Ciaran Donoghue was successful with his effort but Luke Cozens couldn’t follow suit for the hosts as the Crusaders edged it.
The defeat for the Lavender and Blacks means they are now 12 points behind league leaders Leicester Lions with both sides going head-to-head on the final weekend of February.
From the top to the bottom we go and Barnstaple were unable to take advantage of their game in hand as they were blown away by a slick Luctonians outfit who secured a 45-17 victory at Mortimer Park.
The loss for the Chiefs keeps them three points clear of the relegation places with two massive games to come against Old Redcliffians and Bournville.
Elsewhere, both Redruth and Hinckley recovered from slow starts to secure victories over Exeter University (26-20) and Old Redcliffians (35-20) respectively.