Survival bids boosted and relegation fears eased across the board
Taunton Titans, Preston Grasshoppers, Canterbury and Old Redcliffians were just a few of the teams to give their respective seasons a lift in Round 19. (Photo Credit: Mike Craig)
Taunton Titans sent a message to their fellow relegation rivals with an excellent 50-28 victory over Chinnor at Kingsey Road.
Tony Yapp’s side remain in the bottom three but displayed a cutting edge with a seven-try haul, including two apiece for winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Sam Prior.
Brett Harvey, Alex Rodd and Jay Toogood also went over for Taunton, who are now just two points from safety following their first away success since October.
For the second week running, Chinnor were able to claim a try bonus point with Tom Price, Charlie Robinson and Josh Hodson crossing for the hosts. Nick Easter’s men currently sit five points clear of the drop zone with a game in hand.
Esher’s 54-27 defeat to title-chasing Sale FC means the EEEs have been pulled back into the scrap for survival as the North West outfit maintained their steely focus on their own promotion ambitions.
Fergus Mulchrone and Tom Walsh were at the double for Sale, with the latter’s second score arguably a contender for Try of the Season.
THIS try from Saturdays win against Esher 🤯
inches from conceding to the other end …COAST 2 COAST @EnglandRugby 👀#JoinTheHunt pic.twitter.com/PrE7kdA98z
— Sale FC Rugby (@SaleFC) February 20, 2023
The maximum for Sale leaves them in third and eight points off the top after league leaders Rams RFC secured their sixth win in a row as they dispatched Rosslyn Park 43-10 at Old Bath Road. Second-placed Cambridge also clinched a very impressive victory as they ended Cinderford’s unbeaten home record by sealing a 19-12 win on the road.
Back towards the foot of the table, Darlington Mowden Park eased any potential fears of being sucked into a relegation battle with a 22-21 win over Birmingham Moseley. DMP had moved into a 15-point lead but two late tries from Anthony Egodo and Oliver Allsopp gave the Midlands club a bonus point, and Adam Balding’s side could have completed a storming comeback but Dan Lewis’ late penalty attempt was off target.
Elsewhere, bottom-of-the-table Hull were blown away by a rapid start from Plymouth Albion as the Devonshire outfit wrapped up the bonus point inside 18 minutes en route to a 41-12 victory while there was late heartbreak for Leeds Tykes (13th) after Will Roberts’ try 1o minutes from time snatched a 17-14 win for Bishop’s Stortford, leaving the Yorkshire club eight points from safety with a game in hand.
National Two North
Preston Grasshoppers gave their survival hopes a major shot in the arm as they pulled off an excellent 28-25 win against Otley.
Will Hunt’s late penalty – to add to his individual points haul of 15 – secured Preston’s fourth win of the campaign and also halted Otley’s 10-match winning run.
The result for Dan Orwin’s men leaves them 10 points clear of the relegation places.
Both sides swapped penalties in the first period before Tyler Spence and Clark Wells exchanged scores. A try from Elliot Morgan and a second for Wells made it 18-10 to the visitors.
But Hoppers hit back as Josh Longson’s converted try and one for Hunt gave them the lead before Callum Irvine made it all square with seven minutes remaining.
But on Hoppers’ 800th league game, there was to be a fairytale ending as Hunt landed a late penalty to clinch the victory.
All eyes in the clubhouse at Lightfoot Green may well have been on events at Rudding Lane, but second from bottom Harrogate were able to stay in touch with Hoppers following an 18-7 victory over Sheffield Tigers.
Sam Brady’s try six minutes from time helped Martyn Wood’s side to their second win from their last three games as ‘Gate still remain in the fight to stay in National Two North.
Rivals Blaydon aren’t giving up on remaining in this division either as they pocketed a bonus point in a 19-13 loss against Huddersfield. The visitors were 10-5 down but had Finlay Stewart to thank as his hat-trick saw Field triumph in the North East.
At the top, Sedgley Park recorded their 18th successive win and remain unbeaten after getting past Rotherham Titans 38-20 at Clifton Lane. The hosts made life difficult for Scott Barrow’s table-toppers in the opening 40 but the Tigers managed to overcome their latest test to stay one point clear at the top.
Despite a flurry of yellow cards and having David Fairbrother sent off late on, promotion rivals Fylde (2nd) were able to come through their trip to Wharfedale by securing a 24-6 win while Hull Ionians are back up to third after beating Sheffield 41-30 in an entertaining contest at Brantingham Park.
Elsewhere, Liam Reeve’s brilliant long-range penalty ultimately secured a 29-27 victory for Chester against Tynedale, but the North East side were able to depart Hare Lane with a losing bonus-point thanks to a late try from Chris Wearmouth.
National Two East
Canterbury recovered from a blistering start by Sevenoaks to secure a potentially vital 33-30 win in their bid to confirm their status in National Two East.
Two quick-fire tries from Henry Galligan and Jonathan Short put the visitors 12-0 in front, but The City Men awoke from their slumber to collect the bonus point before half-time.
Lewis Hollidge, Cameron Murray, Eoin O’Donoghue and James Stephens all went over before Ben Cooper’s try made it 31-18 to the hosts.
But Sevenoaks were determined to conclude this Kent derby by picking up two points as Short scored his second of the afternoon before Galligan capitalised on a red card shown to Canterbury’s Tom Best to also double his tally.
Victory for Matt Corker’s troops leaves them 14 points clear of the drop while Sevenoaks are six points above the dreaded dotted line.
📺 The National League Rugby Review Show: Round 19
Some of the best tries and biggest moments from the weekend as @joeharvey34 and @c_heal host from @NewportSalopRFC…
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— National League Rugby (@Natleague_rugby) February 20, 2023
There were contrasting fortunes for rivals North Walsham and Rochford Hundred despite both being on the wrong side of their respective scorelines. Matt Musindi’s late try saw North Walsham pick up a bonus point in their 20-17 loss to Tonbridge Juddians while Rochford Hundred were hammered 71-0 by Barnes, with Alex March scoring a hat-trick.
In terms of the promotion picture in National Two East, league leaders Blackheath extended their winning streak to nine-matches with a physical and hard-fought 17-7 win over Guernsey nine matchesub’ are 12 points clear of second-placed Worthing Raiders who once again prevailed in a tight contest as they defeated Old Albanian 33-25 to record their third win from their last four games.
The Raiders displaced Dorking in the silver medal position after the Red and Whites ultimately came up short in a 47-44 thriller against Bury St Edmunds.
Will Attfield was the star man for the Wolfpack thanks to his first-half hat-trick but with this back-and-forth contest reaching 44-41 to Dorking, two penalties from the boot of Charlie Reed clinched the victory for Jacob Ford’s side.
Meanwhile, Sam Lunnon celebrated his 100th appearance for Henley Hawks with two tries as Nigel Dudding’s men romped to a 73-13 win over Westcliff.
National Two West
Fly-half Ashley Groves kicked 11 points and centre Jonathan Cook scored twice as Old Redcliffians picked up a 36-31 win over Barnstaple.
The combination of Cook’s second converted score and a penalty from Groves was ultimately enough for the Bristol outfit to secure their second victory from their last three games and more importantly, move 15 points clear of the bottom two.
Dan Thurston, Francisco Souto, Cook and Jalen Curry went over in the first period to give the home side a 26-12 interval lead.
Old Reds had raced 21-0 in front but tries from Matt Gohl and Johnathon Carter kept Barnstaple in touch, and the Chiefs were able to pull things level after Jacob Murphy and Sam Roberts touched down.
Cook and Groves responded for the home side but Barnstaple were able to depart Scotland Lane with two potentially vital bonus points thanks to Will Topps’ late score.
The defeat for Barum leaves them five points clear of the drop zone after Bournville were beaten 26-7 by league leaders Leicester Lions. In another fixture affecting the bottom of the table, Newport (Salop) ran out 31-24 winners against Stourbridge at Forton Road – with centre Jacob Leonard scoring 16 points – meaning Bob Adams’ men are now 10 points above the dreaded dotted line.
With Leicester Lions recording their 14th successive win, Clifton were able to keep the table toppers in their vision after defeating the 14-men of Hornets 24-19.
The hosts had prop Reuben Bachofner-Brown sent off in the first period but did lead 12-10 on 54 minutes before a brace from Matt Ward proved decisive in helping the Lavender and Blacks stay 12 points behind the league leaders.
Elsewhere, Dings Crusaders scored a remarkable 43 unanswered points to come back from 17-7 down against Redruth and secure a 50-17 success, while a stunning try from Ben Pointon helped Hinckley to a 22-19 success over Exeter University.
Luctonians were also able to stretch their unbeaten run at Mortimer Park to six matches as they beat Loughborough Students 29-17.