Blackheath 22 – 17 Rams
Report from Rams website

Blackheath started the stronger when fly-half Mark Cooke kicked a penalty deep into Rams territory and his pack took advantage with a well constructed catch-and-drive to provide scrum half Jack Daly with his first try of the afternoon. Cooke himself converted to give the home team a 7-0 lead after just 3 minutes.
The men from Reading responded with a series of assaults deep into their oppositions 22 and after numerous infringements referee Nick Wood awarded a penalty try, Rams 2nd of the season, to make the scores 7-7 after the 1st quarter.
Rams failed to convert further pressure to points and it was the home side that broke the deadlock when electric winger Craig Dowsett skipped through tackles and showed a burst of pace to put him clear under the sticks, Cooke converted an easy 2 pointer and Blackheath took a 7 point lead for the 2nd time in the game.
Rams bounced back from the restart with a series of hard carries which led to tight-head prop James Baker breaking away from a maul to score on the stroke of halftime and with fly-half debutant Louis Ellis completing a difficult conversion the scores were even at the break.
Blackheath started the 2nd half as they did the 1st in lively fashion and some sloppy Rams’ clearing eventually gave Cooke a penalty opportunity to retake the lead for his side on the 45th minute to make the score 17-14 to Blackheath.
Just like in the 1st half, conceding points early on spurred Rams into action but despite repeated attempts they couldn’t convert pressure into points and the score sheet remained unaltered for 20 minutes before some slick handling and deft footwork eventually put Daly in the corner for his 2nd try of the afternoon although Cooke could not extend the lead and the score settled at 22-14 to Blackheath.
Rams rallied again but were denied a 3rd try by some staunch home side defence and as the final whistle approached it looked like Seb Reynolds’ men wouldn’t even have a losing bonus point to show for their afternoons work. But as time ran out Rams were awarded a final penalty which gave Louis Ellis the opportunity to rescue something for his side and the young fly-half debutant duly obliged by slotting a tricky kick between the posts to bring the final score to 22-17 to Blackheath.
Rams DoR Seb Reynolds was philosophical in his post-match interview and said “We weren’t at our best today and in fairness I don’t think Blackheath were either. There were lots of mistakes from both sides and the game could have gone either way”. But Reynolds was not downhearted and saw lots of positives “Connor Hayhow had to step in at 13 when Ellis Jones got injured at the start of the game and I thought he did a great job. We also gave a 20 year old fly-half his debut today and Louis Ellis showed what a good player he is and had a lot of nerve slotting a penalty to give us a bonus point with the last kick of the game. I was really pleased with Louis and he is one of a number of exciting young players that we have in our squad at the moment”.

Rams are on the road again this Saturday when they visit old National 2 rivals Bishop’s Stortford.

Cambridge 24 – 20 Rosslyn Park
Report from Cambridge Rugby website

Coming into Saturday’s match Rosslyn Park had had a single loss and were being spoken of as promotion candidates. But this is a league where everyone can be beaten by anyone. The boys in Blood and Sand knew if they carried on with the intensity they had shown at Canterbury they could claim an upset.

The Blood and Sand came out playing some of the best front foot rugby I have seen them play. Matt Hema broke tackles for the first try. Roslyn Park gave away penalties stopping the next two attacks and Ben Penfold took two long-distance pops at goal, one going wide.

With a quarter of an hour gone, Rosslyn Park were finally on the attack, but an interception, a chip ahead from Matt which he regathered on the floor and popped up to Lawrence Rayner who was able to run in – definitely a contender for try of the week notwithstanding some we have seen from Japan.

Park did come into the game with two penalties, but another Cambridge try finished well by Joe Green stretched the lead to 24:6. Ben had another long-range kick which just missed. Park got their hands on the ball for the last few minutes, but could not break the Cambridge defence.

I do not know what was said in the visiting changing rooms at half time but it was short, sweet and effective, the Park players were back out and going through drills before most spectators got to the bar. Park had wind and sun at their backs in the second half and showed some more resolve, looking to play a mix of keep-ball rugby and using the wind to probe the corners. They certainly looked stronger, however, it took them a quarter of an hour to cross the Cambridge line with a multi-phase move that stretched our defence and a good cut backline to finish.

Cambridge were digging deep in defence but were giving away penalties. The referee warned us and Henry Peck was the unlucky player to see yellow. The penalty was kicked to the corner. The jumping pod shifted forward and the throw went past the pod to their 8 who was able to drop over the line. If it was planned it was well worked – though it may just have been lucky, either way, it was a try.

This left Cambridge a man short with ten minutes to play. Cambridge were forced to defend – but they showed a steely determination. Park did win a penalty which they kicked to touch on the twenty-two. But George got up and the ball came back on the Cambridge side, and after a few phases of keep-ball we were able to kick it into the stands to close out the match and the win.

Unfortunately, the news from the other two pitches was not as good, with losses to Rosslyn Park II and Renegades (12-63). Importantly Jake McCloud and Oli Petrides came through their first games back from injury – but at the moment, it will be hard for them to force their way into the main squad.

The Blood and Sand are off to Sale on Saturday, with the Wanderers heading to Esher and the 3rds to Newmarket. Do try to come and give the boys your support at one of those. If not see you back at Volac Park for Cambridge v Plymouth after the RWC final.

Final Score

Cambidge 24 – 20 Rosslyn Park

Tries: Hema, Rayner, Green
Conversions: Penfold (3)
Penalty: Penfold

Chinnor 24 – 26 Rotherham

Report by Jack Jones, Chinnor Rugby

CHINNOR suffered their first home defeat of the season as they were unable to break through a heroic defensive effort from Rotherham Titans.

It proved a tale of two halves at Kingsey Road as the Thame-based side were edged out in a bruising National League 1 battle.

Chinnor already had the four-try bonus-point in the bag at the break as they led 24-18 and they were good value for it as well, playing some brilliant and attractive rugby as Jason Worrall (2), Ofisa Treviranus and Sam Yawayawa all crossed.

But Titans, who had yet to win on the road this campaign, overturned the deficit within seven minutes of the second period and withstood everything Chinnor had to throw at them as the hosts were left with only two bonus points.

Director of rugby Matt Williams made six changes from the side which beat Cinderford last weekend.

Caolan Ryan, who impressed off the bench in Gloucestershire, came in for his first start of the season at full-back, while flanker Matt Marley replaced captain Carl Kirwan.

Yawayawa returned on the right wing, while centre Danny Barnes and scrum-half Jake Ashby also came back into the XV. Worrall, named captain in the absence of Kirwan, was moved to outside centre.

Chinnor took the lead on six minutes when former Samoa captain Treviranus was driven over for an unconverted try following a lineout, before Sam Hollingsworth’s penalty got Titans on the scoreboard.

The hosts were the better side and looked to have extended their advantage when Nick Selway crossed, but it was disallowed following a forward pass from Ben Thomas.

However, they soon made it 10-3. Another lineout proved effective and the ball was played to the blindside for Yawayawa to dive over in the corner for an unconverted try on 16 minutes.

Another Hollingsworth penalty kept the visitors in touch, but Chinnor continued to go on the attack.

And they deservedly extended their advantage to 11 points on 29 minutes when Worrall burst through, Laurence May converting.

An all-action end to the half ensued, with Titans taking a surprise lead, thanks to tries from Bacon and Connor Field, Hollingsworth converting the latter, within two minutes of each other.

But Chinnor were not finished and secured the four-try bonus-point just before the end of the first period when Worrall dived over for his second, May adding the extras, to make it 24-18.

Titans started the second half well and quickly overturned the deficit.

Chinnor had withstood a driving maul, but Hollingsworth’s cross-field kick was perfectly weighted for Bacon to collect and score an unconverted try in the corner.

The home side’s error-count was beginning to rack up and Titans fly-half Hollingsworth slotted a penalty to make it 26-24 after 47 minutes.

With still more than half an hour left to play there was no need for concern, while many would have expected a continuation of the try-fest from the opening period.

But Chinnor were left repeatedly frustrated by a dogged and resolute Rotherham defence, while errors allowed the visitors to clear their lines.

The hosts were enjoying the majority of the possession and territory. With seconds remaining and within 15m, Chinnor were in a strong position to force an error and give May a shot of winning the match from the tee.

But it did not prove to be as the game finished with a knock-on and Rotherham celebrations.

Chinnor: C Ryan, Yawayawa, Worrall, Barnes, Hodson, May, Ashby, Filder, Selway, McNulty, Thomas, Gray, Treviranus, Marley, W Ryan.
Replacements: Southworth, Robinson, Ehizode, Manning, Laverick.
Rotherham Titans: Castledine, Robbins, Field, Bullough, Bacon, Hollingsworth, Dever, Williams, Newborn, Dennis, Preston-Routledge, Frost, Wilson, Laxton, Poole.
Replacements: Whitfield, Defelitto, North, Waddington, Bunting.

Darlington Mowden Park 37 – 17 Old Elthamians

Report by Tom Bulmer, DMP

After three close run home defeats, it was important for DMPRFC to register their first home victory of the 2019/20 National League One campaign soon and this they did with aplomb yesterday, with a fine win against much fancied Old Elthamians RFC.

However, the visitors began the game very well, showing flashes of how they managed to demolish Birmingham Moseley RFC (46 – 3) last weekend, with classy fly half Tom WHITE at the helm, behind a very strong pack of forwards.

It wasn’t long before their forwards pressurised the home line with a serious of powerful pick and drives, resulting in prop Tom CONCU scoring a try and the first points of the game (0 – 5), WHITE adding the conversion. (0 – 7)

It wasn’t long before O.E.’s were on the attack again, but this time WHITE decided to intervene and slotted a decent drop goal (0 – 10), an art seldom seen in today’s game.

So with ten minutes gone, the home side were as many points down and had seen very little possession with which to progress.

Home prop Ignas DARKINTIS retired injured after only eleven minutes of play, necessitating an early introduction from stalwart prop Ralph APPLEBY, who went on to have an impressive game.

As the home forwards muscled themselves into the game, lock Max DAVIES finished off a series of pick and drives to register the home sides first points (5 – 10), which were quickly followed up with Warren SEALS adding the conversion. (7 – 10)

SEALS levelled the scores with a well struck penalty (10 – 10) to level the scores, but O.E.’s responded again via the forwards, with flanker Adam BATT touching down after a chip through had split the home defence. (10 – 15), WHITE again converting. (10 – 17)

So after twenty-two minutes of play, O.E.’s deservedly edged ahead, but this to be their last interference with the scoreboard, as DMPRFC gradually took over and began to dominate the second quarter of the first half.

First, SEALS added a penalty, (13 – 17) and then just prior to the interval, replacement APPLEBY went over after a catch and drive from a lineout (18 – 17) and with SEALS assuredly adding the extras (20 – 17), the home side rook a slight lead at oranges.

O.E.’s produced their best before the break and were a shadow of that in the second half, failing to score and uncharacteristically running out of steam, with their replacements not having the impact of that of DMPRFC, with APPLEBY, new hooker James DOUGLAS, Joe CRAGGS, Talite VAIOLETI and Chris McTURK, all adding value when entering the fray.

The game continued as an arm wrestle for dominance, with DMPRFC increasingly gaining the upperhand as the clock ticked over.

SEALS had a couple of penalty shots at goal and was successful with one, edging DMPRFC further ahead. (23 – 17)

It was a break by replacement CRAGGS in the final ten minutes, who secured the opportunity for scrum half Euan McKIRDY to score the next try for DMPRFC, with the former making a break through a catch and drive attacking lineout, with McKIRDY following up for the touchdown, (28 – 17) SEALS adding the conversion. (30 – 17)

The home side were now in control, as O.E.’s attacking incursions became few and far between.

As the visitors became desperate, they began to make mistakes and it wasn’t long before DMPRFC capitalised, with APPLEBY profiting with his second try of the day as the clock ticked down, (35 – 17), with Warren SEALS converting. (37 – 17)

Hull Ionians 32 – 39 Bishops Stortford
Report by Malcolm Knowles, Hull Ionians

Two points gained or three points lost? Ionians held a 26 – 8 lead early in the second half so should consider it three points lost but they had to rely on the final kick to re-gain a losing bonus, after succumbing to a relentless assault in the final 20 minutes, so may be happy to settle for their first two league points of the season.
After seeing off a bright start from the home side Stortford established an early lead with a penalty from the boot of Tom Walker and a try for Ben Keen, who strode through some poor defending to score.
Ionians then took the game by the scruff of the neck to score four tries. During the next 30 minutes they produced their best rugby of the season thus far to establish an 18 point advantage and looked fully capable of recording their first win.
The first try came after 20 minutes, a scintillating break from Seremaia Turabeci put Ionians into good field position and Ben Stephenson was at the bottom of a maul to dot down following a successful line-out catch and drive.
Stortford responded, with their forwards working the ball up close to the home line, but Ionians broke away and a flat pass from Max Titchener found James Tincknell who pirouetted round his marker and raced away. He drew in the covering defenders before delivering a pass to Mike Ogunwole who powered away to the line.
Ionians squeezes another try in before the break. The forwards pummelled away at the Stortford line before the ball was transferred into mid-field, Tincknell again providing the telling pass for Billy Hardy to crash over.
The Ionians forwards started where they left off after the break but came up against resolute resistance until the home pack were able to drive over from a 5m scrum, George Mewburn controlling the ball to the line. Max Titchener converted three of the tries to build up a healthy lead and Ionians had gained the first point of the season.
The introduction of Brad Burr into the Stortford backline gave the visitors fresh impetus. Sam Winter gathered a neat kick from the replacement fly-half to dot down under the posts and they were back again within five minutes, this time Josh Stannard running clean through some questionable tackling to score.
A penalty attempt from Titchener drifted agonisingly wide but he extended Ionians slender lead with another effort minutes later. It did little to steady the Ionians nerves and a never-say-die approach from Stortford brought up the bonus point try for Chris Smith, as Ionians visibly tired.
A Burr penalty gave Stortford a three-point advantage and Winter’s second effort, as he combined superbly with Smith, pushed them 10 points clear. It looked as if Ionians were to be denied a losing bonus point until Titchener stepped up to dissect the uprights with the final play to snatch back a point for the hosts.
The improvement week on week is obvious. Players are acclimatising to the pace of N1 rugby and are familiarising themselves with one another, they must now learn how to control a game, make the right decisions and build on the progress made. Results will come but is going to be tough.

Plymouth Albion 33 – 22 Sale FC
Report By Jack Guthrie, Plymouth Albion

Plymouth Albion cruised to a 33-22 victory, after their best first half performance of the season aided them in shutting out Sale FC in their National Division one clash.
In his pre-match notes, Plymouth coach Ben Gulliver sang the praises of the work that had been put in off the pitch, writing: “the work of James Earp, Gareth Steenson and Carl Rimmer is starting to bear fruit in training and as a coaching group we are really excited at the prospect of taking on Sale.”
Albion truly bloomed in the first half scoring their bonus point try just before half-time, displaying utter dominance in both attack and defence throughout. The forwards were the key to Albion’s devastating success, as they left the Manchester side in dismay and unable to break the hosts down.
The battered away side made vital changes coming into the second, which shifted the momentum in their favour as they desperately searched for a losing bonus point, however Albion stayed rigid in defence and blitzed them in attack putting themselves just out of reach.
The first major action of the game came just after 10 minutes, when Sale winger Jack Moorhouse saw yellow for an intentional knock-on. The resultant line-out from the penalty set up a classic Albion driving maul, which heaved its way over the line for Jamie Salter to finish. Full-back Connor Eastgate notched up his first points of the game with the following conversion.
Just before Moorhouse returned to the field Albion scored their second. A powerful scrummage drove the visitors back, and quick passing down the line left Alex Ducker open on the left flank. Eastgate extended the lead to 14, as Sale returned to a full 15.
When they got the chance, Sale put points on the board from a Chris Johnson penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Albion then started to stamp their authority with their incredible defensive effort. Using quick line speed and heavy hits, they forced the away side to punt the ball clear time and again.
Salter led the line in defence and punished the lackadaisical Sale side with an excellent chase-down block that left him acres of space to dart under the posts, grabbing his second of the game with Eastgate getting his third conversion.
Later on in the half, Ducker suffered the same fate as his match-up Moorhouse, intentionally knocking the ball on and spending the rest of the half on the sideline. This eased the pressure of the Reds as they came back to score a try of their own, as Matt Bradley took in an offload on the try-line and dived in for the easy score.
Johnson converted, but the hosts remained unphased, turning the ball over and gaining penalties deep in the opposing territory. Quick passing from the backs sliced open the weak defence, allowing Dan Swain an easy run in from the passing play. The kick was missed but the bonus point was secured as the teams jogged to the changing rooms.
Sale replaced their scrum-half and a second-row, as Alex Ducker was waved back onto the pitch.
Albion continued their physical play with barraging runs being made by their pack. They moved along Sale’s try-line and Joe Snow was able to sneak under the defence to touch the ball down. Eastgate’s conversion pushed the lead to 23, leaving the away outfit needing at least four scores to win.
Replacement scrum-half Raphael Quirke changed the game for the Manchester outfit as they pushed the hosts back with excellent box kicking and chasing. Quirke would then get his share as an overlap on the wing opened up the pitch, allowing an easy pop-pass to fall in his path as he supported the run and finished the play, with outside-centre James Williams converting.
Albion’s hooker Jamie Salter had the chance for a hat-trick as he was found on the wing with a skip pass, but it wasn’t meant to be as he was tackled into touch just shy of the whitewash. He was subbed off with just over 10 minutes left of play, cheers resounding after his stellar performance.
Matthew Postlethwaite added himself to the score-sheet, as Albion had a taste of their own medicine, scoring after multiple phases of battering from Sale saw them break through. Williams couldn’t add the two points afterwards, and Albion put the game in cruise control and edged out their opponents until the final whistle.
Despite the amount of key players missing from this game, Albion put on show that they have excellent strength in depth as they deal with their injury woes. With club captain Herbie Stupple expected to return to the field soon, Plymouth could yet again display dominant runs in the league similar to those of last season, as it looks to finally be clicking under Gulliver.
Plymouth Albion
15.C. Eastgate 14.D. Powell 13.D. Squire 12.J. Pohe 11.A. Ducker 10.S. Morley 9.J. Snow 1.J. Higgins 2.J. Salter 3.D. Pullinger 4.D. Collier 5.L. Pearson 6.G. Mills 7.P. Ingoldsby 8. D. Swain
16.S. Raumakita 17.M. Norey 18.C. Setter 19.K. Britton 20.O. Mulberry
TRIES: J. Salter (2), A. Ducker, D. Swain, J. Snow
CONVS:C. Eastgate (4)
YELLOW CARDS: A. Ducker- 35′
Sale FC
15.F. Mulchrone 14.J. Moorhouse 13.James Williams 12.J. Toa 11.P. Ah Van 10.C. Johnson 9.M. Bradley 1.D. Birchall 2.J. Rivas 3.M. Talaese 4.W. Davies 5.M. Postlethwaite 6.J. Barron 7.A. Hughes 8.Jarad Williams
16.C. Ford 21.J. Pope 18.S. Priestley-Nangle 19.T. Brady 20.R. Quirke
TRIES: W. Davies, R. Quirke, M. Postlethwaite
CONVS: C. Johnson, James Williams
PENS: C. Johnson
YELLOW CARDS: J. Moorhouse- 11′
REF: Adam Wookey
Attendance: 840

Richmond 14 – 19 Cinderford
Report By Tim Forrester, Richmond Rugby

Richmond have suffered their first defeat of the 2019/20 season, going down 19-14 to an impressive Cinderford side.

For just under 80 minutes, Richmond and Cinderford could not be split, the score moving from a half time 0-0 to 7-7 and then 14-14. However the last act of the game started with a penalty against Richmond and Cinderford exacted full punishment, kicking for the corner and driving over for the winning score. Richmond, who had the lead with three minutes to go, had to settle for one point. The only consolation for a disappointing performance was that other results went their way and Richmond retain top position in the National League 1 table with an unchanged lead of three points. Cinderford now sit in fourth place.

Immediately before the game, both sides stood in tribute to Richmond stalwart Martin Slagter and there was a minute of applause. There had been a significant shower before the game, which meant that a greasy ball hindered handling in the opening minutes. An over the shoulder kick from Jamie Gibbs set Richmond up in the 22 and provided a platform for Dan Kelly to get within two metres. Not for the last time, the ball was knocked on in the follow up and the chance lost.

Cinderford brought a big pack and had the better of the second scrum to win a penalty. Their front row of Ollie Dawe (Bristol), Nathan Taylor (former London Welsh and Hartpury) and James Elliot (former Moseley) offered plenty of experience and even more bulk. Nevertheless, Richmond continued to boss the early stages with the home backrow to the fore. Jesse Liston made three tackles in quick succession before winning a turnover, whilst Toby Saysell was ever prominent. Rob Kirby had an early penalty chance but the distance always looked ambitious. Gradually Cinderford worked their way into the game. Richmond’s build up play looked promising but handling errors bedevilled them all afternoon. For the visitor’s fullback Ed Sheldon was evasive but they lost their best opportunity when Byron Hodge stole a key attacking lineout.

The Richmond scrum earned a revenge penalty with play largely centred between the ten metre lines. Liston was first to a loose ball to set up another promising attack but it fizzled out with another knock on. After half an hour Richmond were awarded another penalty, well within kicking range, but frustration continued as the kick went wide. Cinderford’s Sam Smith had a late run into the 22 but the home defence held and the first half ended without a score.

Richmond started the second half kicking out on the full and it was beginning to feel like a bad day. Play was scrappy from both sides and it took a Cinderford error to break the deadlock. Around the half way line a kick was charged down and Cam Mitchell and Dan Kelly worked their way to the 22 before the cover caught them. However, Richmond stayed patient, the forwards built the pressure and Jimmy Litchfield finally drove over for his third try of the season, converted by Kirby. The lead held for five minutes before Cinderford seized ball straight from a 22 and worked winger Ed Bogue into space. The defence finally caught him a metre short but Elliot followed up to burrow over and James Butler added the conversion.

Both sides had now emptied their benches but the two excellent defences dominated until the 75th minute. The home front-row were awarded another penalty and Lewis Dennett kicked well to fifteen metres. Jesse Liston won the lineout ball and forwards and backs combined to drive Toby Saysell over. Kirby added the conversion and Richmond had five minutes to defend their lead. This time it was not to be.

Cinderford got a scrum penalty and Stefan Hawley found touch five metres out with his left foot. The Cinderford pack were well primed and the lineout ball was confidently secured before hooker Nathan Taylor was unstoppably driven over. Butler needed the conversion and he got it. With one minute left, a draw looked the reasonable result but Cinderford had other ideas. A Richmond attack petered out on halfway. Cinderford secured the ball and Richmond conceded a twelfth penalty. Thereafter it was a bad dream as Hawley repeated his kick and the pack made it look simple, Taylor driving over for a match winning try, greeted with rapturous enthusiasm.

Director of Rugby Steve Hill said: “The players are disappointed with the way they played today. They created chances but failed to take them and the management of the game in the final ten minutes should have been better. Hopefully this is a wake-up call and we will see a response next Saturday.”