Birmingham Moseley 5 v Blackheath 9
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Cambridge 17 v Darlington Mowden Park 17
Report from Cambridge website

Cambridge opened the scoring. From a scrum, the ball was spun wide to Joe Tarrant who checked and stepped to find space and then ran through to dot down in the corner. Ben Penfold was unable to add the extras.

The visitors cut the deficit with a penalty. We had a good scoring opportunity when following a kick through, the chasers forcing the Darlington player into tough giving us a five-metre line out. We won the ball but Sir was not happy with the throw. Another attack broke down but the ref brought us back for a penalty which Ben slotted. Darlington had a kickable penalty but it drifted wide. That was it for scoring in the first half and we went in 8-3 up.

After the break Darlington came out strongly, scoring a try almost directly from the kick-off. The kick was good giving the visitor the lead. Two penalties from Ben Penfold nudged us back ahead.

The hammer blow came with another try for Darlington with time running out, the conversion gave them a three-point lead. From the restart. Darlington tried to gather, knocked on and an offside player grabbed the ball. This gave Ben a kick to level the score.

Time was not quite up Darlington attacked, but were penalised for holding on. We kicked the penalty out on the halfway. However, the line out was scrappy and a knock-on into touch ended the game with honours even.

So our second draw of the season and one of three in National 1. Old Elthamian v Bishop Stortford was also a 17-all draw, Chinnor’s draw at Plymouth was 10-all.

Final Score

Cambridge 17 – 17 Darlington MP

Try: Tarrant

Penalties: Penfold (4)

Old Elthamians 17 v Bishops Stortford 17
BY JON EDWARDS, Old Elthamians

A try 10 minutes from time by winger Alex Goble secured Elthamians a hard fought draw at a gloomy College Meadow last Saturday.
Old Elthamians 17 Bishop’s Stortford 17

Alex Goble’s first try in the royal blue and gold secured Elthamians a much needed share of the spoils against old rivals Bishop’s Stortford last Saturday.

With OEs behind 17-10 entering the final 10 minutes, the former Nottingham winger crossed in the corner after a lovely back-handed off-load from full-back Louis Brown, and although there was still plenty of work to be done with the conversion to come on the touchline, Tom White curled a superb kick inside the far post to level the scores.

If a draw was probably a fair reflection on the balance of play, both sides will feel they did enough to snatch victory.

An impressive Stortford side were never behind in this defence-dominated encounter, while Elthamians grew stronger as the game went on and pressed for a match-winning score in a pulsating final quarter.

Games between the two sides, separated by just four places in the National One table before kick-off, have traditionally been tight, close-fought affairs.

Not that you would have noticed in a one-sided opening 25 minutes as Stortford tore into the home side with as an impressive and sustained spell of pressure rugby as any Elthamians have faced at College Meadow this season.

Stortford were quicker in thought and deed all around the park, flooding the breakdown and monopolising possession to such an extent that it took Elthamians 29 minutes to venture into the visitors 22.

When OEs did manage to secure some ball, they were quickly smothered and turned over by aggressive, suffocating Stortford defence.

It completely knocked Elthamians out of their stride early on and with the lively Stortford scrum-half Tom Banks setting a ferocious tempo and the outstanding man of the match Sam Winter pulling the strings in midfield, the visitors opened up a deserved 10-0 lead thanks to a well-worked try from centre Mike Ayrton following a strong run from flanker James Apperley on 12 minutes, fly-half Brad Burr adding a conversion and a penalty.

At this stage, OEs were simply not at the races. But as so often this season, Ollie Claxton provided the catalyst for a home revival.
With the forwards finally beginning to match the energy and work rate shown by the Stortford pack around the park, and with White kicking for position to both corners, the industrious scrum-half began to poke and probe at the wall of red shirts in front of him.

On the half hour mark, he took a quick tapped penalty with Elthamians’ first foray into the Stortford 22, allowing his forwards to drive the ball on for prop Tom Concu to stretch an arm over the try-line.

The try sparked an impressive transformation in the home side who camped in the Stortford 22 for the remaining minutes of the half and they were rewarded with a penalty on the stroke of half time which White converted to level the scores at 10-10.

The half-time whistle came at exactly the wrong moment for OEs who had started to build some momentum, while Stortford will wonder how they returned to the dressing rooms at the interval without any sort of lead.

Elthamians had the chance to take the lead for the first time five minutes after the restart but White pushed a long distance penalty attempt in front of the posts wide.

And Stortford were quick to capitalise on the let-off. A succession of home penalties allowed fly-half Brad Burr to kick to touch in the OEs 22. From the resulting lineout, the Stortford pack drove over the line, hooker Harrison King emerging with the ball.

Elthamians regrouped again and some lovely inter-passing from forward duo Dylan Flashman and Mike Kovacic took them deep into the Stortford 22. But another unforced error – this time a knock-on – allowed the visitors to clear the danger.
However, entering the final 15 minutes, it was Elthamians’ turn to take a stranglehold on proceedings – a Stortford high tackle allowing White to kick for the corner.

The forwards proceeded to build through the phases, finally creating space out wide for Goble to cross in the corner after Brown’s lovely off-load.

With White’s superb conversion levelling the scores, and with their tails up, the home side now pressed for the winning score.

Goble’s kick ahead up the touchline turned defence into attack but Elthamians were denied a second try with another knock-on in front of the Stortford posts.

In a frenetic final five minutes, the home side again drove the ball deep into the visitors’ territory and looked to have set up a strong field position for a drop goal. But they elected instead to move the ball wide instead and the red shirts were quick to shut down any threat from OEs strike runners.

With both sides throwing everything into the closing moments, a hard-fought and intriguing contest ended in something of an anti-climax when referee Joe James appeared to blow up three minutes early, the final whistle being greeted with a surprised silence from both sets of players and supporters.

SCORERS:
Old Elthamians
Tries: Concu 30, Goble 70
Cons: White 31 71
Pens: White 40

Bishop’s Stortford
Tries: M Ayrton 12, King 58
Cons: Burr 13 59
Pens: Burr 9

TEAMS
Old Elthamians: Lo Brown, Goble, Koteczky, Eastwell, Perkins, White, Claxton; Concu, Morris, Holenstein, Flashman, Batt, Saunders, Barton, Kovacic. Subs: Le Brown, Self, Ledger, Morgan, Hotston.

B Stortford: Hankin, Duff, Winter, J Ayrton, M Ayrton, Burr, T Banks; Roberts, King, Harrison-Price, Thacker, Lewis, Apperley, Ball, Kingham. Subs: Dan, McCrone, R Banks, Stannard, Spivey,

Referee: Joe James

Half-time: OId Elthamians 10 Bishop’s Stortford 10

Plymouth Albion 10 v Chinnor 10
Report from Chinnor website

Momentum continues to build as Chinnor leave Devon with a share of the spoils
CHINNOR extended their unbeaten run to four games as they shared the spoils with Plymouth Albion.

Laurence May converted Sam Yawayawa’s try with 11 minutes to go to help the Thame-based side leave Devon with two points.

Plymouth seemed the happier with the result in a game which waited 53 minutes for its first points as scrum-half Joe Snow kicked the ball into touch to end an enthralling encounter.

Chinnor had finished the game on top but the result keeps the momentum going, while they remain unbeaten at Brickfields.

Director of rugby Matt Williams made seven changes, four positional, from the win over Sale.

Lock Jack Ramshaw made his first start of the season following his recovery from an Achilles injury, while prop George Davis and winger Yawayawa came into the side.

Albion’s physicality was evident from the first whistle, but Chinnor had a pack that was more than up to the contest.

The hosts were on the front foot early on and a kick over the top had the Oxfordshire side retreating.

However, it was a repeated tactic which Chinnor dealt with comfortably all game as Yawayawa and Jake Ashby were always first in a foot race, while full back Kieran Goss was immaculate under the high ball.

Albion’s heavy pack also included a couple of handy ball carriers and, while they broke the gain line a few times, Chinnor always had an answer.

Two fine shots from Davis epitomised their defensive shift, while Cameron Gray and Ehize Ehizode, who was moved to blindside flanker in place of the unavailable Ofisa Treviranus, continued their impressive form.

Even with 14 men for ten minutes following centre Pete Laverick’s yellow card, Chinnor had the answers in defence.

The ball was spread wide to the left from the resultant lineout and Alexander Ducker was stopped short, before Setareki Raumakita knocked on.

That proved to be the home side’s best opening of the first half and, while Chinnor created very little themselves, their defence had been outstanding.

One sour note had been the sight of Gray being helped off the pitch with an ankle injury, but Joe Dancer took his place and impressed on his first appearance in nine weeks due to an elbow injury.

One of his first contributions was to steal possession at a lineout, while a fine hit from Yawayawa had stopped Scott Makepeace in his tracks and forced the lock to knock on.

Chinnor had certainly done the dirty work in a first half which, despite the scoreline, had been good to watch for the arm-wrestle it proved to be.

Ten minutes into the second period and a high tackle from Yawayawa led to a kickable penalty, but full-back Daniel Powell’s attempt hit the right post.

The 900-strong crowd only had to wait a few more minutes for the first points, though, and it went Chinnor’s way as Laurence May slotted a 30m penalty in front of the posts.

However, Plymouth scored the first try of the game just two minutes after the restart.

Nice hands between Raumakita and Daniel Pullinger saw the hosts find a gap and hooker James Salter dived over, Powell converting, to make it 7-3.

The home side were starting to control the game, but they were only able to add three more points, courtesy of Powell’s right foot.

Chinnor, though, have grown in confidence over the last month and, despite having very few chances, took their opportunity to draw level on 69 minutes.

Jason Worrall, moved to outside centre from the right wing, burst through a gap and offloaded to Carl Kirwan.

It looked like the skipper could have done the rest himself, but he looked left for Yawayawa who had work to do before powering over. Fly-half May still had a tough conversion from the touchline, but he nailed his kick to make it 10-10.

A Plymouth knock on then allowed the visitors to end the game on top.

Worrall and Caolan Ryan both made fine carries, but Chinnor were unable to unlock their hosts again.

A knock-on then gave Albion the chance to run down the clock and there was almost a sense of relief from the hosts when Snow kicked the ball into touch.

Plymouth Albion: Powell, Raumakita, Squire, Pohe, Ducker, Morley, Snow, Higgins, Salter, Pullinger, Pearson, Makepeace, Kelly, Mills, Collier.
Replacements: Daly, Britton, Setter, Crouch, Weeks.

Chinnor: Goss, Hodson, Worrall, Laverick, Yawayawa, May, Ashby, Davis, Selway, McNulty, Ramshaw, Gray, Ehizode, Kirwan, W Ryan.
Replacements: Southworth, George, Dancer, Manning, C Ryan.

Rosslyn Park 36 Hull Ionians 8
report from Chris Taylor, Hull Ionians

An early start, a long coach ride to the capital, rounded off with a crawl through the London traffic is not the best way to start a weekend but it is something that goes hand in hand with playing National 1 rugby.

The result suggests a convincing victory for the home side but, the home supporters were honest enough to admit that at times you did not know which team was at the top of the table and which was 2nd from bottom.
To be fair, RP looked a very fit side and when in possession the RP backs moved the ball very well. They ran at pace, creating gaps and were supported well by the RP pack.

RP opened up with a try after 7 minutes from wing Howard but HI were well in the game and only a last ditch tackle from the RP scrum half stopped James Tincknell, who was prominent in attack throughout the match.
A couple of HI handling errors put us on the back foot and RP centre Scott scored on 23mins.
HI Tom Peter’s was hardly yellow carded for use of the shoulder at the breakdown. One of several strange decisions from the officials, who collectively proved to be inconsistent in their approach, all day.
Howard went it for a 2nd try whilst HI were one down and then Max Tichner slotted over a 30m penalty for HI.
HT – 17-3.
HI started the 2nd half well. The pack continued to dominate the scrum, with Ben Bell causing RP problems but a lost ball in possession and another strange decision saw HI pushed back from the RP 22m to within 10m of their own line. A catch & drive saw the RP No.8 Ellis go over for the bonus point try.
HI then took the ball deep into the RP half, with Eddie Brown and the back-row prominent but once again a mistake was punished an HI found themselves having to defend manfully.
A shoulder charge tackle by the RP winger on the lively Ben Stephenson went unpunished and, laid bare the continued inconsistency from the officials.
A great break by James Sanderson put pressure on RP but once again HI could not turn it into points.
Some good handling from RP saw 2nd row Gillanders round off with a try, again providing evidence that we must be more clinical in our finishing if we are to compete.
HI made a few enforced changes which resulted in Lewis Minikin being moved from full-back to centre and seeing more ball.
RP also made some changes in the front-row, which resulted in the ref penalsing HI pack. Presumably for being the better scrum. Who knows?
By now HI had some walking wounded and further changes saw 1stXV debuts for Ryan Platten at prop and Will Gaunt into the back-row. Platten promptly took on ex-Wasps, Gloucester and England Saxons tight-head Paul Doran-Jones and HI again shoved back the RP pack. This earned HI a penalty from the scrum on 76mins, the first penalty from the scrum for HI all day. Another mystery?
Young Will Stowe joined the fray on the wing and was quickly involved, as HI pressed for a score.
In the closing seconds, another solid scrum set the base for the ball to be moved to Lewis Minikin who outpaced the RP backs and run 25m to score a well deserved try.
FT 36-8.
Another defeat by a well resourced high flying London Club but, by no means did we look a team at the base of the table. We are improving on a weekly basis and the team spirit remains excellent. Onwards and hopefully, upwards. Up the I’s!

Rotherham 7 v Cinderford 30
Report from Rother Titans website

Rotherham Titans suffered a bad day at the office crashing to a fourth successive home defeat as a dominant Cinderford side ran out 30-7 winners at a bleak and wintery Clifton Lane.

The loss leaves Titans 11 points adrift of safety in the relegation zone and a quick upturn in fortunes is now essential if their ambition of staying in National 1 is to be achieved.

The game itself started well for the South Yorkshire side as they looked bright and full of enthusiasm from the off and when captain Zak Poole crashed over on 8 minutes it was no more than the Titans deserved.

However, the momentum of the game soon shifted as the visitors dominance, particularly at scrum time, laid a foundation for three first half tries from number 8 Harry Hone, hooker Nathan Taylor and winger Ed Bogue.

The latter try was a bitter disappointment for Rotherham as it came from a loss line out on the stroke of half time when they were trailing by just 6 points. Instead, the wingers try saw Cinderford go in at the break with a lead of 20-7.

The second half began in similar fashion to how the first had ended, with the South West side in the ascendancy in most aspects of the game.

The match was effectively sealed around the hour mark when replacement flanker Matt Gilbert crossed the whitewash for his side bonus point try.

To their credit Rotherham never gave up and indeed spent the majority of the final quarter inside the Cinderford half in pursuit of some consolation. Unfortunately for them they were unable to cross the line and the visitor’s ran out worthy winners.

A disappointed Matt Smith commenting afterwards said, “It was a tough afternoon for our boys; Cinderford were quality up front and we struggled with that which was disappointing, and as a forwards coach it hurts even more.

“We had a scrum five metres out and we got turned over on our own ball; if we score there we’re back in the game.

“Then there was a set piece close to our line; we mess up a line out due to someone missing a lift and they end up scoring and that’s 14 points right there.

“When things are not going your way all these things seem to escalate and as a result the confidence goes and it’s always difficult when that happens. Everyone is hurting and everyone is trying their best to put things right, but it’s not going to get fixed overnight.

“I thought in the first ten minutes when we scored we looked really good; I also thought we looked good in the final 15 minutes, the lads found a lot of energy in the final quarter which I couldn’t understand, which maybe suggest it’s a mental thing.

“But once again you need to have that platform that comes off the scrum to allow you to get field position and attack teams and obviously we didn’t have that today.”

Referee: Ben Rayner

Attendance: 471

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Poole (T), Hollingsworth (1C)

Cinderford: Hone (T), Taylor (T), Bogue (T), Gilbert (T), Butler (2P, 2C)

Titans: 15 Sam Hollingsworth, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Tom Bullough, 11 Ben Robbins, 10 Morgan Bunting (Allan 64), 9 Connor Dever, 1 Toby Williams, 2 Jack Bergmanas (Defelitto 69), 3 Will Dennis (Nearchou 60), 4 Dan Preston-Routledge (Wilson 77), 5 Will Hughes (Ward 48), 6 Lewis Wilson (North 64), 7 Keifer Laxton, 8 Zak Poole (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Agustin Defelitto, 17 Zac Nearchou, 18 Elliott Ward, 19 Alfie North, 20 Sam Allan.

Cinderford: 15 Ed Sheldon (Pointon 29), 14 Sam Smith, 13 Terence Babarinsa (Mansfield 55), 12 Jack Hayes (Capt) (Babarinsa 69), 11 Ed Bogue, 10 James Butler, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Ollie Dawe (Brockett 60), 2 Nathan Taylor (Shields 67) (Lane 69), 3 Tim Brockett (Elliot 40), 4 Jack Shields (Bennett 55), 5 Dale Lemon, 6 Matt Lane (Gilbert 64), 7 Joe Mullis, 8 Harry Hone.

Replacements: 16 James Elliot, 17 Matt Gilbert, 18 Matt Bennett, 19 Dan Pointon, 20 Will Mansfield.

Sale FC 8 v Richmond 7
By Bob Smith, Sales FC

Sale were into their stride from the kick off, a lineout win on the opposition throw providing an opportunity to take the game to the visitors through centre Jeremy To’a and winger Patrick Ah Van. Another fine combination between Jonty Rawcliffe and Tom Brady saw the ball moved to the opposite wing where Ah Van was just unable to collect a low pass. The Sale scrum appeared to be having the better of the encounters but were penalized allowing Richmond to clear.

Sale were instantly attacked with To’a bursting at the heart of the Richmond defence, a half chance for Ah Van applying more pressure on the visitors. There was no let up from Sale with the whole team showing tremendous discipline in their ball retention, the forwards mounting a series of driving mauls in the face of a well-organized Richmond defence. With perfect timing, the ball was released to the backs and quick hands from Chris Johnson and Tom Brady gave To’a the opportunity to finish with a try in the corner. The try was not converted.

Somewhat against the run of play, Richmond flanker Toby Saysell broke clear from half way, feeding supporting winger Toby Eaton who touched down, full back Rob Kirby adding the extras giving Richmond the lead. Sale continued to test Richmond’s defence combining searching kicks from Johnson and multi-phase ball retention from the forwards keeping the visitors on the defensive through to half time.

Sale FC 05 vs 07 Richmond

Richmond took the early initiative in the 2nd half, forcing two Sale errors leading to a quickly taken free kick by No 8 Jesse Liston. This rebounded on Richmond as Sale’s defence was alert to the threat, Richmond penalized for not releasing allowed Johnson to clear the danger and put Sale back on the attack.

Sale won a penalty in midfield which Johnson scored to restore a narrow lead. The home side continued to play a combative game which pinned the visitors in and around their 22m zone.

A potential turning point came when Sale’s No 8 Jarad Williams earned a yellow card for a high tackle on Saysell, allowing Richmond the chance to press Sale’s defence. Three minutes after going down to 14 men, Sale conceded a penalty well within kicking range of Richmond’s top scorer Rob Kirby. His effort, however, drifted wide. Sale’s 14 men rose to the challenge, buoyed by the home crowd, and Williams returning for the closing minutes, controlled the remainder of the match to run out worthy winners by a single point.

Sale FC:

Try: To’a (1), Penalty: Johnson (1).

Richmond:

Try: Eaton (1), Conversions: Kirby (1)

Sale: Rawcliffe, Brady, To’a, Leota, Ah Van, Johnson, Bradley; Birchall, Juan Pablo Rivas, Talaese, Priestley-Nangle, Barron, Hughes, Leatherbarrow, Jarad Williams.
Replacements: Ford, Longmore, Pope, Davies, Moorhouse, Quirke.

Richmond: Kirby, Eaton, Mitchell, Cook, Kelly, Hodgson, Dabell; Cunnew, Grimstone, Litchfield, Hodge, Crawford, Parker, Saysell, Liston.
Replacements: Torpey, Dowding, Allman, Boyce, Bagwell.