It was a significant weekend at the top of National Two North, East and West while Bishop’s Stortford, Billingham and Newport (Salop) ignited their survival bids. (Photo Credit: Ian Clark)

National One

Bishop’s Stortford (11th) bolstered their survival hopes as they defeated relegation rivals Leicester Lions (12th) 39-12.

Full-back Nick Hankin ran in two of Stortford’s tries, with the hosts taking the contest away from the Lions in the first half at Silver Leys.

Chris Smith, Francis Moore and James Ayrton also crossed for the hosts while Tom Walker had a fine day with the boot, slotting 14 points.

Leicester Lions did respond in the second half via James Stubbs and Malelili Satala-Navlivou but the damage had been done.

Victory for Marcus Cattell’s side means they are now seven points clear of danger with three matches to go while the setback for the Lions leaves them six points above the drop.

Bottom of the table Taunton Titans are still alive after clinching a dramatic 22-20 win over sixth-placed Darlington Mowden Park. With two minutes to go, Tony Yapp’s troops were eight points down but tries from Oscar Stewart and Vaea Taione snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Taunton’s fifth success of the campaign leaves them seven points from safety while fellow bottom two side Cinderford (13th) could only manage a losing bonus point in their 30-25 defeat against Sedgley Park (9th).

As for the title race, league leaders Chinnor were made to work hard for their 41-16 triumph over Richmond but 24 unanswered points in the second half got the job done. Second-placed Rams recovered from 20-7 down after just 16 minutes against Blackheath (8th) to eventually run out 33-25 winners at Old Bath Road.

Elsewhere, Rosslyn Park (3rd) racked up their fifth successive victory as they comfortably dispatched Sale FC 41-19 while Plymouth Albion (5th) recorded their first win on the road since November as they defeated Birmingham Moseley (4th) 20-3.

National Two North

Rotherham Titans (2nd) held off a late Leeds Tykes (1st) fightback to edge a captivating top-of-the-table clash 32-26 to blow the National Two North title race wide open.

The Titans – who began the afternoon five points behind unbeaten leaders Leeds – led 27-12 through tries from Jack Taylor (2), John Okafor and Harry Dunne.

But Leeds responded with two scores in four minutes from Pete Lucock and Kieran Davies to set up a grandstand finale at a packed-out Clifton Lane.

However, former Tyke Okafor settled any Rotherham nerves as his second secured a 12th successive bonus-point victory for the hosts but more importantly, it cut the gap at the summit to just two points with three games left to play.

With the title race set to go the distance, will the fight for survival follow a similar path? Billingham (12th) will be hoping that isn’t the case, especially after thumping bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield 53-29 to record back-to-back home victories.

The win for the North-East outfit leaves them five points clear of ‘danger’ after rivals Hull Ionians (13th) were on the wrong end of a seven-try 45-17 scoreline against Fylde (5th).

With Huddersfield’s fate all but confirmed, the I’s are still battling and despite them being in the bottom two, Joe Makin’s side are currently safe from the drop based on the format of relegation for this season.

As it stands, they have a better playing record than National Two East’s Wimbledon who sit in 13th place.

Also across National Two North, Sheffield (3rd) held off an Otley (9th) revival to claim a 21-15 victory at fortress Abbeydale Park while Wharfedale (4th) also fended off a comeback from Preston Grasshoppers (11th) to seal a 31-21 win.

There was late drama at Tynedale (6th) where Mike Jobling’s converted try three minutes from time snatched a 36-34 victory for Hull (8th) while Lymm (10th) will almost certainly be plying their trade in National Two next season following a 43-24 home success over Sheffield Tigers (7th).

National Two East

The promotion hopes of Barnes (3rd) and Dorking (2nd) suffered a blow in Round 23 as both title candidates fell to defeats against Henley Hawks (5th) and Sevenoaks (8th), respectively.

In terms of Barnes, they were 31-12 down early in the second half following Lailand Gordon’s brace and close-range scores from Istok Totic and Will Benning.

Josh Davies added to first-half efforts from Ethan Sikorski and Jacques Birch to give Barnes hope but a penalty from the excellent Adam Hakimian and a further score from Dave Manning ultimately sealed a 39-26 win for the Hawks.

As for Dorking, they were beaten 28-26 away at Sevenoaks, with Adam Bowman’s side extending their fabulous winning streak at home to seven matches.

Setbacks for Barnes and Dorking allowed league leaders Esher to capitalise emphatically as they ran in 10 tries to defeat relegation-threatened Wimbledon 62-19.

The EEEs now sit four points clear with a game in hand, but all is not lost for Barnes and Dorking as both sides have to face Esher in April.

Elsewhere, three first-half tries saw Bury St Edmunds (6th) halt their seven-game losing run as they edged past Westcombe Park 19-14 and Guernsey Raiders (11th) recorded back-to-back home wins by seeing off a spirited North Walsham (14th) 41-28.

Meanwhile, Old Albanian (9th) returned to winning ways as they defeated Canterbury (7th) 38-23 and Tonbridge Juddians’ (4th) excellent end-of-season form continued as they beat Worthing 61-31 to make it seven victories from their last eight games.

National Two West

Luctonians’ (2nd) aspirations of claiming the National Two West title hit a major stumbling block as they were beaten 39-19 by Chester (9th) at Hare Lane.

Tom Holloway, Tom Furnival, Andrew McMinimee, Harrison Vare and Ben Ivory scored tries for Chester, with James Preston kicking 14 points.

Luctonians hooker Ben Link dotted down in the first half while Matt Hackley and Will Hodnett went over in the second 40, but the visitors departed Cheshire empty-handed.

A third defeat from their last four games for Ryan Watkins’ side means league leaders Dings Crusaders are now firmly in the driving seat for promotion.

The Bristol outfit produced a stirring second-half display to see off Exeter University (4th) 49-38 to leave them seven points clear at the top with three games remaining.

At the other end of the division, Newport (Salop) may well have given themselves a lifeline in their fight against relegation. An excellent 29-12 win over Redruth lifted Bob Adams’ troops up to 13th in the standings and due to the format of relegation this season, they are in fact just four points from safety.

Bottom-of-the-table Dudley Kingswinford remain six points from safety after an inspired second-half performance from Hinckley (5th) guided them to a 50-20 success.

Also across National Two West, Clifton are back up to third after a comfortable 48-5 win over Bournville (12th), a late Dan Fry try saw Old Redcliffians (6th) snatch a 37-35 victory at Hornets (11th) and Camborne (7th) ended a three-match losing run as they came from behind to defeat Loughborough Students (10th) 50-29.

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