In Round 25, Chinnor, Esher and Dings Crusaders clinched their respective titles, the race for promotion in National Two North took a significant twist while fights for survival go to the wire. (Photo Credit: David Howlett)

National One

Chinnor have been crowned champions of National One as they thrashed Birmingham Moseley 52-0 to clinch promotion to the Championship.

After a cagey start, two tries from Grant Hughes and scores via Alun Walker, Oliver Curry, Morgan Passman and George Worboys had Chinnor leading 40-0 at the break.

Worboys and Will Feeney put the icing on the cake in the second period as Nick Easter’s side claimed the National One title in style.

Their sharpness, power and determination – which has been on display for so much of this season – shone through in the Midlands as Chinnor sailed into the second tier for the first time in the club’s history.

So with promotion wrapped up, all eyes will be on the scrap for survival on the final day.

In Round 25, Taunton Titans (13th) came out on top in the battle of the bottom two as they defeated Cinderford 27-21 at Veritas Park. Tony Yapp’s men are now three points from safety while Cinderford are four points adrift and still alive after claiming two very late bonus points in Somerset.

As for their relegation rivals, Leicester Lions (12th) and Bishop’s Stortford (11th) both claimed victories. The Lions smashed their way to an excellent 43-10 win over Darlington Mowden Park (6th) while a late Tom Walker penalty clinched what could prove to be a huge 22-19 success for Stortford against Sale FC (10th).

It all means the bottom four sides are separated by just five points and added to this, Cinderford host Bishop’s Stortford on the final day.

Final Day Fixtures

Cinderford (14th) v Bishop’s Storford (11th)

Blackheath (7th) v Taunton (13th)

Sale FC (10th) v Leicester Lions (12th)

Elsewhere in National One, Rams (2nd) narrowly beat Richmond (8th) 19-13 in front of a record crowd at Old Bath Road, a late Andrew Denham try snatched a 29-29 draw for Blackheath (7th) at third-placed Rosslyn Park and Sedgley Park (9th) ran in six tries to defeat Plymouth Albion 47-29 (4th).

National Two North

Leeds Tykes’ promotion hopes suffered a serious setback in Round 25 as they were beaten 18-15 by fifth-placed Fylde at Woodlands.

The table-toppers – who had lost just once all season prior to the weekend – were 10-0 down after 13 minutes following Adam Lanigan’s score and a Greg Smith penalty.

Lucas Walsh and the prolific Ben Gregory traded tries before Seremaia Turagabeci landed a penalty for the Tykes to cut the lead to five points with a quarter of this contest remaining.

Smith then responded in kind from the tee, but when Ben Dixon scooted over for an unconverted try, Leeds were on the hunt for a winner. However, they were to be denied by Fylde as the hosts staunchly saw out this victory which in turn, handed the advantage in the title race to second-placed Rotherham Titans.

Gareth Lewis’ men hammered Preston Grasshoppers 67-20 to end the season unbeaten at Clifton Lane but more importantly, they now sit three points behind Leeds Tykes with a game in hand. The equation is simple. If the Titans win their remaining two matches, they will be heading back to National One.

Remaining Fixtures

Leeds Tykes: Sheffield (3rd) (H)

Rotherham Titans: Sheffield Tigers (7th) (A), Billingham (12th) (A)

Rotherham’s final fixture could also be very significant for their hosts Billingham. In Round 25, the North-East outfit collected a try bonus from their 39-24 loss away at Lymm (10th) meaning they now require one point from their last game to avoid relegation.

Rivals Hull Ionians (13th) – who currently sit in the ‘danger zone’ – also managed to record a try bonus point in their 55-34 defeat at Otley (9th).

That result leaves Joe Makin’s troops four points from safety and it means they must beat bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield on the final day to stand any chance of evading the drop.

If the I’s were to stay in 13th place, they could still survive due to the format of relegation for 2023/24.

Following the demise of Jersey from the Championship, this had a consequential impact on relegation from National Two.

Like last season, the clubs bottom of the three National Two leagues are relegated but the playing records of the three clubs in 13th position in the three National Two leagues are then compared.

The club with the best playing record remains in National Two and the other two are relegated to level 5. As it stands, National Two East’s Wimbledon (43 points) have the best playing record compared to Hull Ionians (39 points) and National Two West’s Newport (Salop) (34 points) – which is why Hull Ionians need at least a victory on the final day to keep their hopes alive.

Also across National Two North at the weekend, Sheffield (3rd) made it 10 straight home wins as they saw off Hull (8th) 39-14, Wharfedale (4th) scored 26 unanswered points to turn things around and beat Huddersfield 40-17 while two tries in the final 10 minutes helped Tynedale (6th) to a 36-27 triumph over Sheffield Tigers.

National Two East

Esher have made an immediate return to National One after they pulled away from promotion rivals Dorking (3rd) to secure a 50-28 victory and the National Two East title.

Peter Winterbottom’s charges knew a bonus-point victory would see them crowned champions and three tries in the final quarter from Myles Rawstron-Rudd, Sam Bullock and Finlay McBrearty sealed the deal for The EEEs.

But as expected, this was a tightly contested affair between two of the leading sides in the division, with Esher 21-14 ahead at the break thanks to scores from Hugh Sloan, Pierre Thompson and Harry Faulkner outweighing efforts from Dorking’s Will Sanders and Toby McRae.

Adam Musa and Andrew Hamilton swapped tries before McRae’s second made it all square, but Esher put their foot on the accelerator to eventually surge to victory.

Down at the bottom, Wimbledon (13th) strengthened their survival bid with a thumping 55-32 win over Worthing (12th). Seventeen tries in the last two games for the Dons has given them real hope of avoiding the drop and they now sit three points from safety in their own league.

However, as mentioned in our National Two North segment, despite sitting in the bottom two, as things stand, Collin Osborne’s side would be safe from relegation. Their playing record is superior to Hull Ionians’ and Wimbledon know that two points from their final game against third-placed Dorking would confirm their place in National Two for another season.

Relegation Picture: National 2 North + National 2 East – Final Day

National 2 North –

Hull Ionians (13th – 39pts) v Huddersfield (14th) 

Billingham (12th – 43pts) v Rotherham (2nd) 

National 2 East –

Dorking (3rd) v Wimbledon (13th – 43pts) 

Elsewhere in National Two East, Barnes’ (2nd) promotion hopes might have come to an end but a hat-trick from Jacques Birch helped Jack Heald’s side to a battling 43-36 win over Tonbridge Juddians (5th). Henley Hawks moved up to fourth after edging past Canterbury (7th) 36-35 while Bury St Edmunds (6th) and Old Albanian (8th) racked up huge scores.

Bury ran in eight tries to defeat Guernsey Raiders (11th) 56-24 while Old Albanian’s Michael Bond and Ben Alexander both scored hat-tricks in a 76-34 success over North Walsham (14th).

Also in Round 25, three first-half tries for Westcombe Park (9th) was enough to see off Sevenoaks (10th) 24-0.

National Two West

Dings Crusaders are the new National Two West champions as they showed their class to cruise to a comfortable 69-7 victory over Redruth (10th).

Stean Williams and Luke Arscott’s side knew victory at Shaftesbury Park would seal a historic promotion to National One and Dings scored five tries to Redurth’s one in the first half to lead 38-7.

Soloman Taufa, Matt Smith, Matt Lane, Joe Hawkesby and Oscar Lennon all dotted down and the Crusaders clinched the title in style as Lennon, Harry Hone, Tom Gollop, Taufa and George Boulton all crossed in the second period.

A 20-match unbeaten run has guided Dings to promotion and they will be playing in the third-tier for the first-ever time in 2024/25.

At the other end of the division, relegation was confirmed for both Dudley Kingswinford (14th) and Newport (Salop) (13th). Dudley were well beaten by an in-form Old Redcliffians (4th) 48-11 and despite an excellent come-from-behind 38-33 win for Newport at Camborne (6th), it wasn’t enough for Bob Adams’ troops to avoid the drop after Wimbledon’s bonus-point success in National Two East.

Also in the penultimate round of the season, Luctonians (2nd) came out on top 32-29 in an entertaining contest with Hinckley (7th), Clifton sealed third spot for the third season running with a 52-24 win over Exeter University (5th) while Loughborough Students (8th) beat Chester (9th) 38-20 and Bournville (12th) secured their first away victory for almost 14 months after getting past Hornets (11th) 30-24 at The Nest.

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