Leicester Lions, Sale FC, Preston Grasshoppers, Otley and Guernsey Raiders all claimed precious victories as they bid to stay in the respective divisions. (Photo Credit: Tim Anger)

National One

Leicester Lions moved out of National One’s bottom three thanks to a dramatic 21-20 win over Richmond.

Gareth Collins’ side arrived in the capital searching for a third victory on the spin and Luke Bouchier’s last-gasp penalty snatched a famous result for the Lions.

Alex Post’s try put Richmond in front before Patrick Case and Matt Marsh both touched down to leave the hosts 17-3 up after just 22 minutes, but Leicester were able to respond before the break via Simon Koroiyadi.

Jake Sterland’s try on 48 minutes – followed by a Dan Lewis penalty – then turned things in the Lions’ favour heading into the final quarter.

Richmond thought they had won it when Ed Landry landed a penalty three minutes from time only for Bouchier – who scored the winning try against Blackheath in Leicester Lions’ last outing – to steal at the death.

Victory for the Midlands outfit leaves them outside the relegation places by virtue of having won more games than Bishop’s Stortford, who dropped into the bottom three following a 38-13 defeat to Birmingham Moseley.

Like Leicester Lions, Sale FC boosted their survival hopes with a crucial 21-10 win away at Blackheath. Winger Tom Walsh bagged himself a brace to move Jonathan Keep’s side to within one point of safety.

Taunton couldn’t follow suit though, as they fell to the foot of the standings after losing 52-17 to league leaders Rams RFC. The Titans are only four points from safety, but they have played a game more than those above them.

In terms of Rams, their excellent victory keeps them one point clear at the summit after title rivals Chinnor (2nd) hammered Cinderford 57-0 at The Beavis Memorial Ground. Nick Easter’s troops also have a game in hand which they will fulfil this coming Saturday against Sedgley Park (6th) at Kingsey Road.

Elsewhere, Plymouth Albion’s unbeaten home record came to an end in Round 17 as Darlington Mowden Park recovered from a slow start to claim a superb 28-17 win while Tom Stanton’s try two minutes from time sealed a 24-24 draw for Rosslyn Park at Sedgley Park.

National Two North

Preston Grasshoppers secured their first home win of the season against Hull Ionians to nudge themselves away from the thick of National Two North’s relegation battle.

Hoppers – who ran out 44-35 winners – were yet to taste victory at Lightfoot Green, and it looked like they were going to have to wait a little longer when they trailed 21-10 at half-time.

Tries from Sam Pocklington and James Thompson – as well as 11 points from the boot of Lewis Minikin – outweighed scores from Preston’s Tyler Spence and Jacob Browne, but the hosts roared back at the beginning of the second period.

Jack Lightowler, Rory Brand and Spence went over and with fly-half Will Hunt converting all three tries and landing a penalty, Hoppers had suddenly built an 11-point lead of their own.

Sam Wilson got one back for Hull Ionians but Alex Keay’s side ultimately sealed a precious win when Alastair Murray dotted down before Spence wrapped up his hat-trick.

Joe Makin did cross to claim a try bonus point for the visitors, but it is now nine straight losses for the Yorkshire outfit.

As for Hoppers, they are 11 points clear of the relegation places while Hull Ionians remain in the bottom two after Billingham also picked up a try bonus in their 40-29 loss to Otley.

It means the North-East side remain just above the trapdoor because they have won one more game than Hull Ionians while an excellent away triumph for Otley moves them 10 points clear of the drop zone.

Bottom of the table Huddersfield are 10 points from safety after they were well beaten by Leeds Tykes. The league leaders made it 16 wins out of 16 with a 57-17 success and they remain six points clear at the top after Rotherham Titans (2nd) muscled their way past Tynedale to secure a 42-7 bonus-point win.

Elsewhere, Sheffield (3rd) made it nine victories in a row as they beat Wharfedale 31-14, Fylde scored 33 unanswered points in the second half to come from behind and defeat Lymm 50-28 and Sheffield Tigers made it four home wins from their last five after seeing off Hull 36-17.

National Two East

Dorking lost further ground in the National Two East title race after they fell to a 39-31 loss away at Westcombe Park despite a spirited fightback.

Taine Wagstaff and Toby Wallace (2) scored for Westcombe Park, who found themselves 22-0 up inside half an hour following a scintillating start.

George Jackson replied for Dorking but with Henry Birch and Tom Bloomer in the sin-bin, the home side took full advantage with Todd Bailey burrowing over.

After the break, Dorking mustered up a response courtesy of Tom Howe and a penalty try but Westcombe Park kept their guests at arm’s-length when Matt Harrison crossed on 73 minutes.

The visitors did score twice in the final three minutes via Adam Musa and Toby McRae but a penalty from home No.10 Nathan Wyman – who kicked 14 points across the course of the afternoon – denied Dorking a losing bonus.

It is now back-to-back defeats for Dorking who have dropped to third in the standings and five points behind league leaders Esher, who also have a game in hand. The EEEs romped to a 59-17 victory over Old Albanian to extend their winning streak to 10 matches while Barnes moved up to second in the standings, with fly-half Tom Wilstead starring in their 42-24 success over North Walsham.

Similarly to Dorking, Bury St Edmunds stumbled in the race for promotion as Jacob Ford’s side saw their 10-game unbeaten run come to an end against Tonbridge Juddians. Before Round 17, TJs had been the last side to defeat Bury back in September and Peter Dankert’s side completed the double by securing a 36-27 victory in Suffolk.

Meanwhile, there were contrasting fortunes for those looking to beat the drop. Guernsey Raiders took a huge stride towards securing their status in National Two East by beating Wimbledon 49-21 while Worthing had their hearts broken by Canterbury as a late James Stephens try clinched a 36-33 win for the City Men.

Those results mean Guernsey are now 10 points clear of trouble while Worthing are actually out of the relegation places thanks to the two bonus points they collected in Kent.

Elsewhere, Henley Hawks returning to winning ways by recording a hard-fought 36-17 success over Sevenoaks.

National Two West

Second-placed Dings Crusaders displayed a ruthless edge as they scored nine tries to defeat Hinckley 55-19.

The Bristol outfit – who were aiming to stretch their superb unbeaten run to 12 matches – had secured the bonus point by half-time with tries from Matt Lane (2), Andrew Turner, Ciaran Donoghue and Joe Hawkesby.

Jake Holcombe, Will Thompson, Harry Tarling and Harry Hone got in on the act in the second half.

Rory Vowles, Reuben Logan and Matt Arden crossed for Hinckley, but the side who began the afternoon in third place had no answer for Dings.

The result for Stean Williams’ troops keeps them six points behind league leaders Luctonians who picked up a maximum against Loughborough Students following a 50-31 win.

Clifton rose to third in the standings as four tries in the opening 25 minutes helped set the platform for a 40-24 success over Chester while Camborne are up to fourth after defeating Hornets 31-26.

Jack Park’s late conversion following Milo Hallam’s try saw Exeter University snatch a 35-34 victory away from Old Redcliffians while hat-trick hero Matt Prichard also produced last-gasp drama for Redruth who clinched a 29-25 win on the road against Bournville.

And lastly, Newport (Salop) may well have reignited their survival hopes as Hendry Vaka’s hat-trick helped them to a 43-24 win over fellow bottom two side Dudley Kingswinford, which leaves them 11 points from safety with a game in hand.

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