Promotion is within touching distance for the National One and National Two West league leaders while a host of clubs aiming to beat the drop are not giving up the fight just yet. (Photo Credit: Martin Gray )

National One

Chinnor have moved a step closer to promotion to the Championship as they eventually pulled away from Leicester Lions (12th) to secure a 42-12 win at Kingsey Road.

The league leaders led early on following tries from the superb Willie Ryan and Luke Carter but the visitors hit back via Malelili Satala-Navlivou.

However, scores either side of the break from Morgan Passman, Kieran Goss and George Worboys saw Chinnor seize control as they built a 35-7 lead.

Isaac Thompson and Ryan then traded scores as Nick Easter’s troops wrapped up an eighth successive home victory, which now leaves them on the cusp of the National One title.

That is because rivals and second-placed Rams suffered a setback at Plymouth Albion (4th) as the Berkshire outfit were beaten 28-22 at Brickfields. The result means they are now eight points adrift of Chinnor with just two matches remaining.

Three more points from their final fixtures against Birmingham Moseley (A) (5th) and Darlington Mowden Park (A) (6th) will confirm Chinnor’s place in the second tier.

Whilst there was a twist at the top, there was more drama in the relegation scrap as both of the bottom two sides – Taunton Titans (14th) and Cinderford (13th) – claimed superb victories to boost their survival hopes.

Taunton became just the second team since October to depart Sale FC (10th) with a victory as Tony Yapp’s men recorded a 41-27 win in the North-West while Cinderford stunned an in-form Rosslyn Park (3rd) by clinching a 29-28 triumph at The Beavis Memorial Ground.

With rivals Leicester Lions losing and Bishop’s Stortford (11th) also falling to a 17-13 defeat at Darlington Mowden Park, it means the bottom four sides are separated by just four points.

To add even more spice to the equation, Taunton face Cinderford in Round 25 with the latter also hosting Bishop’s Stortford on the final day of the season.

Meanwhile in the third tier, Blackheath (8th) punished Sedgley Park (9th) to seal a 25-15 success at Well Hall and the spoils were shared in the capital as Richmond (7th) and Birmingham Moseley (5th) played out a 17-17 draw.

National Two North

Billingham (12th) once again boosted their chances of playing National Two rugby next season after coming from behind to beat fourth-placed Wharfedale 20-17.

Ryan Hodgson, Louis Verity and Rhys Green all dotted down for Wharfedale to give the Yorkshire club a 17-6 advantage just after half-time.

Ryan Foreman had slotted two penalties for Billingham and the fly-half was on hand to convert Nathan Myers’ 58th-minute score to bring the hosts back into the contest.

With Dale’s Ben Markey receiving a yellow card in the final quarter, Billingham capitalised on the extra man as Joe Ross’ effort six minutes from time sealed a third consecutive home victory for the North-East outfit.

Another success for Billingham keeps them away from the ‘danger zone’ and they sit four points above the dreaded dotted line after rivals Hull Ionians (13th) emphatically beat Sheffield (3rd) 48-14 at Brantingham Park.

A timely maximum for Joe Makin’s men means the I’s are still very much alive in this fight against the drop.

However, Huddersfield’s (14th) battle to avoid relegation is over after they could only manage a spirited 26-26 draw with Otley (9th) at Lockwood Park.

At the summit, with Rotherham Titans’ (2nd) meeting with Sheffield Tigers (7th) called off due to a waterlogged pitch, leaders Leeds Tykes were able to stretch their advantage at the top. Pete Seabourne’s charges ran in nine tries to see off Tynedale 55-14 to leave them seven points clear.

Elsewhere, a late Peter Hudson-Kowalewicz try saw Hull (8th) come out on top 39-36 in a breathless encounter with Fylde (5th) while there was another pulsating contest in Lancashire with three tries in the final 15 minutes handing Preston Grasshoppers (10th) a 46-42 success over Lymm (11th).

National Two East

Two tries from Jasper King helped Dorking (2nd) beat Tonbridge Juddians (4th) 36-33 in a thriller at The Big Field.

The lock dotted down twice in the final quarter to ensure Armand Roux’s side kept their promotion hopes alive.

TJs – who arrived in Surrey having won seven of their last eight matches – were leading 21-5 at half-time following scores from Howard Packman, Luca Petrozzi and Duncan Tout, with Henry Birch diving over for Dorking.

But the second-placed side rallied as tries from Tom Howe and Jonathan Ellis cut the deficit to two points. Will Holling and King then swapped scores before a penalty from Henry Anscombe put Dorking in front.

King’s second three minutes from time proved to be the decisive score despite Packman dotting down late on.

This gusty win for Dorking keeps them four points behind leaders Esher who ran in seven tries to see off Worthing Raiders (12th) 50-22. The EEEs – who also have a game in hand – remain in the driving seat for promotion ahead of their showdown with Dorking at Molesey Road this coming Saturday.

As for third-placed Barnes, they showed their quality to shrug off Sevenoaks (8th) 19-5 but their failure to record a try bonus means Jack Heald’s side are now six points behind Esher going into the final two games of the campaign.

At the other end of the division, Wimbledon (13th) bolstered their survival hopes with an excellent 57-7 victory over already relegated North Walsham (14th). Winger Tomasz Pozniak scored four tries for the Dons and the result leaves them seven points adrift of safety but it also means if they were to finish in 13th place, as it stands, they would avoid the drop.

Also across National Two East, Leo Webb’s late, converted try rescued a 19-19 draw for Henley Hawks (5th) against Westcombe Park (9th), a brace from Will Waddington helped Canterbury (7th) defeat Bury St Edmunds (6th) 29-25 and Guernsey Raiders (10th) beat Old Albanian (11th) 53-41 in a high-scoring affair at Footes Lane.

National Two West

Dings Crusaders (1st) are closing in on the National Two West title after a blistering second-half display helped them defeat Newport (Salop) (13th) 45-13.

If Stean Williams and Luke Arscott’s side can beat Redruth at home in Round 25, the Bristol outfit will be crowned champions.

But Dings were slow to get going in Shropshire as Newport held a 7-5 lead at the interval with Connor Adams’ penalty and a try from Jack Dawson outweighing Matt Lane’s effort.

But the table-toppers displayed all of their title credentials and scored six tries in the second half with Lane, Charles Taylor, James Halliwell (2), George Boulton and Tom Gollop all going over.

George Castledine did cross for Newport, but it was merely a consolation as Dings edged ever closer to a historic promotion.

Luctonians (2nd) – who have had another fine season – are doing all they can to keep the title race alive as they put in a complete performance to see off Hornets (12th) 49-5.

Away from the top two, third-placed Clifton and Exeter University (4th) both suffered losses in Round 24. Clifton were beaten by a battling Loughborough Students (8th) 40-33 while Camborne’s (6th) Ben Priddey played a starring role in their 59-22 defeat of Exeter.

Elsewhere, Old Redcliffians’ (5th) march up the table continued with a 40-17 home success over Hinckley while Bournville (12th) came out on top 50-38 in a 14-try bonanza against Chester (9th). Redruth v Dudley Kingswinford was postponed.

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

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