Cambridge 24 – Blackheath 25
Report from Cambridge Rugby website
Although the sunshine that had graced the morning had disappeared, the day was still almost perfect for rugby. No rain and almost no wind and not too cold.

Blackheath had the bast of the opening exchanges, their backs running great lines and making ground. They scored an early try which was converted and were looking to score another when Cambridge turned the ball over. A kick pass opened up space and through fluid interchanges between backs and forwards Cambridge were in the visitors 22. The ball was spun wide where Gareth Baxter was waiting and he ran in twenty metres. Gareth is not a prolific scorer, I believe his last try was against Moseley two seasons ago.

Although Ben Penfold’s kick missed, from this spark Cambridge hit a purple patch and for thirty minutes hardly seemed to do anything wrong. Whenever we had the ball we ran offloads were made and passes stuck. James Martin grabbed a try and though Club struck a penalty, from the kickoff Cambridge won possession and James got his second, both converted by Ben Penfold. Joe Green then claimed the bonus point scoring out wide – but they were all team tries. Cambridge went in 24-10 up.

In the second half, the momentum shifted. Although Cambridge did make a number of attacks, the fluency was not there. Players made solo runs and were turned over, or looked to force the fifty/fifty pass. This gave Club more ball and they looked after it. They gave away fewer penalties and were able to add two tries, though neither were converted. Cambridge did earn a penalty 45 metres out, but Ben’s kick was pulled left. Another penalty was kicked to touch, but the line out was disrupted and Club regained the ball. Then with time running out club crossed our line for a fourth time to take a single point lead. The conversion missed. Cambridge had a kick-off and did manage to regather the ball and started going through the phases, knowing any score would give them victory. However, Club kept their discipline and made their tackles, eventually forcing a knock-on. From the scrum they retained the ball and were able to kick the ball dead to end the game and claim victory.

Both teams scored four tries and both kickers hit two from five. The only difference was they scored a penalty and a conversion to our two conversions. Such are the paper-thin margins. It is another match where we have seen what the side can do in a blistering first-half display, but for whatever reason, we have not replicated that form in the second half. Normally this would point to fitness, but I am not sure this is the case. It seems more mental and therefore should be possible to fix. We definitely belong in this league, but we just need to find a way to close out the matches.

On the social side, it was good to meet many old boys.

There was better news on the other two pitches with both the Wanderers and the Thirds recording convincing victories. The Wanderers winning 34 – 12 and the 3rds 50 – 8. The thirds even lent Saffron Walden a number of players as the visitors arrived with only 11 and lost two to injury. However, from speaking with them in the bar they were happy to get a game. That is the spirit of lower team rugby, of course we do wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

Final Score
Cambridge 24 – 25 Blackheath
Scorers
Tries: Baxter, Martin (2), Green
Conversions: Penfold (2)

Cinderford 18 – Bishops Stortford 13
Report from Cinderford website

Cinderford overcame a strong challenge from Bishops Stortford in a game of few scoring opportunities that highlighted the defensive qualities of both teams.

The visitors made the better start the match but were unable to find a way through and when Cinderford finally made some progress debutant outside-half George Barton opened the scoring with a penalty in the 23rd minute. The home scrummage was on top throughout and when they were awarded another penalty a kick into the corner set up an attacking lineout and hooker Nathan Taylor was driven over for an unconverted try to make it 8-0, which proved to be the score at the interval.

Once again it was Stortford who pressed forward from the re-start and when the ball fell loose over the home line No8 Gary Kingham was the quickest to react and be awarded a try, which Brad Burr converted. More pressure on near their opponents try line saw the visitors edge ahead when Burr landed a penalty, but this was soon cancelled out when a late tackle on Barton saw him restore his side’s advantage with the resulting penalty.

As the match went into its closing stages Cinderford enjoyed a good spell of pressure and a 5m scrum saw them push their opponents back over the line for No8 Harry Hone to a try, which was well converted by Barton. Burr rescued a losing bonus point for Stortford when he landed a penalty with the last kick of the match.

Cinderford; Ed Sheldon, Sam Smith, Terence Babarinsa, Jack Hayes (Capt), Ed Bogue, George Barton, Alex Frame, Ollie Dawe, Nathan Taylor, Tim Brockett, Tyler Jerrum, Dale Lemon, Jack Shields, Joe Mullis, Harry Hone.

Replacements; James Elliot, Lewis Beer, Matt Bennett, Jimmy Williams, James Butler.

Old Elthamians 31 – Hull Ionians 0
Report BY JON EDWARDS, Old Elthamians

A dominant Elthamians scrum laid the platform for an emphatic bonus point victory at a wet and gloomy College Meadow on Saturday.
Old Elthamians 31 Hull Ionians 0

This was far from being a vintage home performance against a resolute Hull side who tackled themselves to a standstill in a one-sided second half. But after the disappointment of the Richmond defeat the week before, a much changed Elthamians line-up could be more than satisfied with a job well done in difficult conditions.

It was also a triumphant return for Cameron Holenstein, making his first appearance in a first team shirt since suffering a horrific ankle break against Loughborough Students at the beginning of February.

The powerhouse prop was part of an impressive front row effort alongside the equally prominent Nathan Morris and Austin Hay, who laid waste to the Hull scrum with such effect that the visitors lost two props to the sin bin early in the second half as they were shoved back for the umpteenth time.

Without any sort of platform from which to build on after the break, Hull were effectively neutered as an attacking threat as Elthamians spent the majority of the half in and round the visitors 22. They scored 24 unanswered points to secure only their third bonus point victory of the season.

If the second half was a significant improvement, the less said about the opening 40 minutes the better, frankly.

In a forgettable, disjointed half of rugby punctuated at regular intervals by the sound of the referee’s whistle for a succession of penalties and stoppages, neither side were able to get any sort of foothold in the game.

Hull did well to retain possession and patiently build through the phases without ever threatening to breach the miserly Elthamians defence, while the home side struggled to raise the tempo in attack whenever they managed to secure turnover ball.

At least the only score in a drab first half was a good one. Scrum-half Rhys Morgan did exceptionally well to wriggle past four tackles in his own 22 before releasing Charlie Dockery. The OEs centre raced into Hull territory before passing outside him to Nathan Morris whose quick hands released George Perkins up the touchline for the try on 10 minutes.

OEs came out after the interval with far more energy and intent and set about pinning Hull in their own 22 for long periods.

They forced the visiting pack into conceding a string of five penalties in succession at a scrum close to their own line as Hull were shoved backwards at an alarming rate of knots. Referee Daniel Collins eventually lost patience and showed two yellow cards to prop Dave Laverick and his replacement Ben Carlile.

It meant temporarily uncontested scrums which was a blessed relief for the crowd who by now had had their fill of stoppages for reset scrums, and the under pressure Hull pack.

However, OEs were quick to capitalise on the two-man advantage, the lively Hay crashing over the line from close range on 58 minutes after a series of drives from his forwards.

Morris slid over in the corner for a third try following Hay’s charge up the middle on 61 minutes and centre Mark Koteczky secured the four-try bonus point 10 minutes later following another sniping break from Morgan and a lovely backhanded off-load from replacement Charlie Self.

Elthamians put the seal on a dominant second half performance in the final minute after their forwards had taken play deep into Hull territory, fly-half Ollie Bryant whipping out a perfectly timed long pass to Perkins on the touchline for his second try of the afternoon.

SCORERS:
Old Elthamians
Tries: Perkins x 2 (10 80) Hay 54 Morris 58 Koteczky 67
Cons: Bryant x 3 (11 55 68)
Pens:

TEAMS
Old Elthamians: L Brown, Hotston, Dockery, Koteczky, Perkins, Bryant, Morgan; Holenstein, Morris, Hay, Flashman, Parker, Kovacic, Saunders, King. Subs: Concu, Self, Barton, Claxton, A Brown.

Hull: Magee, Waqadu, Hardy, Tincknell, Colbourne, Titchener, Crane; Laverick, Stephenson, Peace, Makin, Peters, Mewburn, Sanderson, Brown. Subs: Carlile, Brown,Torkington, Choudhury, Kerr.

Referee: Daniel Collins

Half-time: OId Elthamians 7 Hull Ionians 0

Plymouth Albion 19 – Birmingham Moseley 7
Report By David Lawrence – Birmingham Mail

Moseley returned home empty handed from their visit to Plymouth, who won the game more easily than the final score line suggests. Plymouth bossed the contest up front and went into the interval leading 19-0. After some stern words from director of rugby Adam Balding, the visitors played much better in the second half but couldn’t turn pressure into points.

A reflective Balding said: “It was a game of two halves. Plymouth had the upper hand in terms of territory and possession in the first half. “Plymouth also edged the battle up front but after the interval we upped the stakes and were unlucky not to score more points than we did.

“In the second half we put some good stuff together but they were tough conditions out there. “Plymouth were streetwise today and in all reality they were the better side. We need to work hard in training this week and come back next weekend when we play Cambridge.”

On a heavy Brickfields pitch, Moseley found themselves under pressure early on at the set scrums. Twice they gave away penalties but managed to keep Plymouth out with some strong defence.

he opening try scored by Plymouth fly-half Sam Moseley came from a mistake from Moseley skipper Jonny Arr who had a kick charged down. Before Plymouth could take the conversion Moseley, on the intervention of the assistant referee, were reduced to 14 when lock Dan Wright was yellow carded. Plymouth centre Connor Eastgate converted and then scored his side’s second try when he powered over by the corner flag.

Eastgate converted his own try from wide out before Plymouth scored a third with the last play of the first half. Moseley wing Aquile Smith failed to deal with a kick through and his opposite man Dean Squire pounced to slide in at the corner.

At the interval Birmingham Moseley were looking at a heavy defeat but to their credit they regrouped and took the game to Plymouth. The Red-and-Blacks started to put the home side under pressure but the Plymouth defence remained watertight and Moseley’s cause was not helped by them making too many unforced errors.

With ten minutes left on the clock the Billesley Common outfit eventually got themselves on the scoreboard when Smith did well to get the ball down in the corner. Fly-half Cliff Hodgson converted with a fine kick from the touchline but it was too little too late for Moseley.

Rosslyn Park 27 – Chinnor 27
Report BY JACK JOHNSON, Chinnor

Impressive Chinnor leave it late to earn draw
CHINNOR produced one of their best performances of the season as they struck late to earn a well-deserved draw at a rain-soaked Rosslyn Park.

Caolan Ryan held his nerve to convert Jason Worrall’s try in the last play as the Thame-based side left south-west London with two points.

The performance deserved more, but the way in which Chinnor ensured they avoided defeat at The Rock was pleasing.

In a tight division where momentum is crucial, controlling and more than matching a Park side which started the weekend second in National League 1, ensured the visiting players, coaches, backroom team and supporters were left enthused.

Director of rugby Matt Williams made five changes from the victory over Canterbury.

Full-back Kieran Goss was recalled as Chinnor looked to take advantage of a pacy 4G pitch, while Carl Kirwan, Cameron Gray, Jake Ashby and Josh Hodson were also handed starts.

Willie Ryan, whose wife gave birth to their second child only the previous night, came straight from the hospital to resume at No 8.

Park’s artificial pitch was always going to pose a different challenge, but the slick surface was further lubricated by the rain which did not relent all afternoon.

Handling errors were to be expected, but the quality of the fixture and Chinnor’s performance was made all the more impressive by the conditions it was played in.

Neither side was able to make real headway in the opening half an hour.

Former Chinnor man Craig Holland traded penalties with Laurence May, as the sides were locked at 6-6 after 26 minutes.

But the visitors had been starting to dominate proceedings and control their hosts.

Chinnor thought they had broken through when, after sucking their hosts into the centre of the pitch, the ball was spread wide and Chris Elder’s offload sent Worrall diving over. However, the South African winger was held up as Park managed to keep the visitors out.

They were not to be denied long, though, and Gray latched on to Ehize Ehizode to help his fellow lock drive over for his first try for the club. May converted to make it 13-6 after 32 minutes.

The hosts hit back before the end of the half, but it was only to cut the lead to four points as Holland slotted his third penalty, an offence which resulted in Willie Ryan spending time in the sin bin.

Park started the second period well and moved to within a point as Holland’s good day from the tee continued.

However, Chinnor were given a platform to launch an immediate attack when the restart was knocked on.

Ashby then effectively marshalled the forwards to suck in the hosts and sent No 8 Ryan through a gap to celebrate the new addition to his family with a try. May added the extras to make it 20-12 after 50 minutes.

Park were always going to come back at Chinnor, but the visitors would have rightly felt hard done by to go on to trail 27-20 with 11 minutes to go.

Neville Edwards latched on to a dinked kick over the top to dot down.

Holland, whose conversion attempt hit a post, then added a penalty to level what had become a pulsating fixture.

The hosts were not finished and Hugo Ellis was pushed over, Holland converting, as Park led by seven points.

It was harsh on Chinnor, who deserved so much more for their efforts.

But they were not to be deterred and camped themselves in Park’s half to set up a thrilling final ten minutes.

The hosts were reduced to 14 men when Henry Spencer was yellow-carded, however Chinnor were unable to make the most of two line outs.

A penalty in their favour helped them pin Park on their own try-line, though, as the visitors had a scrum five metres out.

When the ball was finally played following two resets, centre Pete Laverick looked to go flying through an attractive-looking gap, but knocked on in the tackle.

It looked like Chinnor’s chance had gone, but there was to be another opportunity.

Park were penalised at the subsequent scrum which brought cheers from the Chinnor contingent in the stands, who were celebrating moments later.

With only seconds remaining, the ball was played quickly and spread to the right where there was acres of space for Worrall to run into and dive over.

There was only time left for the conversion and Caolan Ryan, who had entered the fray with ten minutes to go, expertly held his nerve as Chinnor deservedly earned a share of the spoils.

Rosslyn Park: Robinson, Howard, Cheeseman, Munro, Edwards, Holland, Gash, Wade, Vaughan-Edwards, Lovell, Spencer, Gillanders, Laventure, A Ellis, H Ellis.
Replacements: Hughes, Traynor, Doran-Jones, Macfarlane, Lewis.

Chinnor: Goss, Worrall, Laverick, Elder, Hodson, May, Ashby, Southworth, Selway, McNulty, Gray, Ehizode, Treviranus, Kirwan, W Ryan.
Replacements: Fidler, George, Manning, C Ryan, Yawayawa.

Rotherham 16 – Rams 28
Report from Rotherham Rugby website

Rotherham Titans raised their level from recent performances, but unfortunately came up against a very good side in Rams Rugby, as they crashed to a 28-16 defeat at Clifton Lane.

Titans were outscored by four tries to one, with the hosts sole touch down coming in the final play of the game from number 8 Anthony Maka, via a catch and drive close to the Rams line.

Sam Hollingsworth added three penalty kicks and Morgan Bunting impressed with a conversion from the touchline at the death.

On a very heavy Clifton Lane surface, due to the torrential rain suffered in South Yorkshire during the previous 48 hours, it was the hosts who started the brighter.

Indeed Titans’ fly half Sam Hollingsworth nudged his side ahead on 2 minutes with the first of his three first half penalties.

However, the visitors, who came into the game sitting fourth in the table, looked to be a class act from early on.

Full back, Will Partington, dual-registered from Premiership side London Irish and former London Scottish centre Connor Hayhow in particular looked dangerous every time they had ball in hand.

Indeed, the latter got Rams on the board on 13 minutes with the first of his three tries, whilst the former expertly converted the first of what would be four conversions.

On 20 minutes a rampant Rams side extended their advantage when winger Conor Corrigan ran through to score.

Titans were made to work extremely hard in defence and to their credit this they did to great effect. Time and again Rams battered the gain line and time and again the Rotherham defence not only held firm, but drove the opposition backwards.

Coming out for the second half trailing 14-9 and attacking the clubhouse end of the ground, Rotherham had high hopes they could cause an upset against a top-end side.

However, either side of the hour mark, man-of-the-match centre Connor Hayhow ruthlessly finished off moves to add two further tries to wrap up the game.

Rotherham to their credit never stopped grafting and in the final play of the match picked up a consolation try, when number 8 Anthony Maka dotted down from a catch and drive close to the line.

Whilst naturally disappointed with the loss, Titans Director of Rugby, Martin Jenkinson, saw some green shoots of encouragement, “I hate losing, but it was a bit easier to take today as I was really impressed with Rams. They demonstrated in clinical fashion that our sport is a team game.

“They did the simple things right, they made very few mistakes and all their scores came after they calmly waited for us to make mistakes, which gave them field position, which in turn led to them scoring four tries.

“With regards to our performance; I think we made a step up on where we have been of late and our efforts today would have beaten some sides which we have lost to this season.

“Our performance was undoubtedly better than it has been in recent weeks; unfortunately we came up against a very good Rams side. I thought our scrum and line out performed better, but I thought we just looked a bit blunt at times in the final third.

“But we are hopeful that we have turned a corner and from here on in we aim to continue with our improvements.

“However, no side is going to roll over for you and we as a group have to keep working hard and keep battling so we gain enough wins to stay in this division.”

Referee: Joe James

Attendance: 483

Yellow Card: Frost (Titans)

Titans: Maka (T), Hollingsworth (3P), Bunting (1C)

Rams: Hayhow (3T), Corrigan (T), Partington (4C)

Titans: 15 Tom Bacon, 14 Dan Leake (Ward 52), 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Tom Bullough, 11 Ben Robbins, 10 Sam Hollingsworth (Leake 73), 9 Connor Dever, 1 Toby Williams (Whitfield h-t), 2 Harry Newborn (Bergmanas 65), 3 Will Dennis, 4 Dan Preston-Routledge, 5 Kieran Frost (Bunting 65), 6 Lewis Wilson (Laxton 65), 7 Zak Poole (Capt.), 8 Anthony Maka.

Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Harry Whitfield, 18 Elliott Ward, 19 Keifer Laxton, 20 Morgan Bunting.

Rams: 15 Will Partington, 14 Henry Bird (Rossiter 34), 13 Keiran Leicester, 12 Connor Hayhow, 11 Conor Corrigan, 10 Andrew Humberstone, 9 Ollie Cole (Moates 65), 1 Niall Kidd, 2 Ben Henderson (Moffitt 69), 3 James Baker (Zeiss 65), 4 Oliver Taylor, 5 Jamie Guttridge, 6 Louis Wolf (Collis 54), 7 Tom Vooght, 8 Robbie Stapley (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Ollie Moffitt, 17 Cameron Zeiss, 18 Josh Collis, 19 Jack Rossiter, 20 Jack Moates.

Sale FC 18 – Darlington Mowden Park 8
Report By Bob Smith, Sale FC

Sale were quickly on the front foot, Fergus Mulchrone chipping through the Mowden Park defence with Andy Hughes on hand to force a penalty at the breakdown. Whilst Sale looked under pressure at the lineout, the opposite was the case in the scrums, the Sale pack completely dominant, earning a succession of penalties taking them close to the try line. Having elected to take a scrum rather than kick at goal, Jarad Williams (No. 8) crossed the try line on 14 minutes only for the effort to be disallowed and the 5 metre scrum retaken. In a repeat of the previous action, Williams crossed the line and again the try was disallowed.

Sale continued to exert pressure on Mowden Park who, stuck to their task with a well organised defensive display. A Yellow Card awarded against Daniel Grange in the thirtieth minute ensured Mowden Park had to battle hard in the face of some positive attacking from Sale, who were unlucky not to see any return for their superiority.

Within 5 minutes of the restart, a smart break by Scrum Half Matt Bradley was brought to an abrupt halt by a high tackle giving Sale a penalty which James Williams dispatched to level the scores.

Sale continued to dominate the attacking play, Mowden Park conceding 2 penalties in quick succession, the first just at the limit of James Williams range, falling short, but the second attempt taking Sale into a well-deserved 6-3 lead.

The first Sale try came in the 61st minute following excellent lineout work from Andy Hughes, backed up by Jared Williams who fed ever alert substitute scrum half Raffi Quirke, his rapid acceleration leaving covering defenders on their heels, then finding centre Mulchrone who scored under the posts.

With the points gap a little healthier, Mowden Park found themselves down to 14 men again as prop Ralph Appleby received a yellow card. With Sale in the ascendency , Mulchrone made another break, skilfully chipping through with Raffi Quirke on hand to score Sales second try.

In the closing minutes, yellow cards for Sales’ Jared Williams and Jake Pope left the home side down to 13 men and in the final minute Mowden Park scored a consolation try.