Birmingham Moseley 29 – Sale FC 24
by David Lawrence – Birmingham Mail
Adam Balding knows a thing or two about the dark arts of scrummaging – a back row with more than 200 Premiership appearances for the likes of Gloucester, Leicester and Newcastle will have seen to that.
So when Moseley’s director of rugby argues that referees need a helping hand the authorities should sit up and listen, particularly when the answer could be right there in front of them.
Balding admitted to being frustrated as he saw his Billesley Common side secure a hard-fought victory over a rumbustious Sale outfit at the end of a game that was rarely allowed to flow.
It wasn’t helped by referee Ben Russell’s decision to send three players to the bin inside the opening few minutes – two of them from Moseley – but a penalty count that ended just shy of 30 ensured it was a stop-start affair.
And with the bulk of these coming at the scrum, Balding believes it is time for match officials to work together to get a grip on what’s going on. “I wouldn’t want to be a referee but I do feel that the touch judges should help the referee more than they do a little bit,” he said.
“They can clearly see what’s going on but they’re not radioing that in. It works both ways and affects both sides and it happens in other games. The inconsistency of the officiating is costing us and it’s costing them. There were some clear things that happened within the game that had a clear impact. One of these was the decision to send three players to the bin two minutes into the game but there were others.You play sport to win and we’ve won but it was a frustrating game again.”
Those early yellow cards that stripped Moseley of key forwards Danny Wright and Buster Lawrence – along with Sale fly-half James Williams – led to the visitors opening their try tally as the opposition pack trundled over the line, No8 Jarad Williams getting his hands on the ball.
The Red-and-Blacks did bag a try of their own at the end of the half through winger Mason Tonks with the other points coming from the boot of Sale’s James Williams and Moseley’s Cliffie Hodgson as the visitors went in 16-3 up at the break.
There was no let-up for the nerves in the second period either with penalties being slotted over at will until Sale looked to have swung the game thanks to a try from replacement Jake Barron.
But there was to be a late fightback from the hosts with Moseley’s replacement hooker Will Biggs diving over five minutes from time before Hodgson wrapped up a nail-biting win with his conversion and a long-range penalty.
Birmingham Moseley: O’Brien, Smith, Morris, Fatiaki, Tonks, Hodgson, Arr; Titchard-Jones, Austin, Tideswell, Crofts, Wright, Monks, Lawrence, Le Roux. Reps: Biggs, Foreman, Dawes, Collingwood, Joyce.
Sale: Rawcliffe, Brady, Mulchrone, Leota, Ah Van, James Williams, Bradley; Pope, Longmore, Ford, Priestley-Nangle, Postlethwaite, Hughes, Leatherbarrow, Jarad Williams. Reps: Rodd, Rivas, Barron, Moorhouse, Quirke.
Blackheath 19 – Bishops Stortford 14
Report by BY JOHN ALLANSON Bishops Stortford
Stortford gift hosts a 14 point lead within 5 minutes and Blackheath’s defence proved just too strong to allow the visitors to overturn this deficit.
Having barely got over the disappointment of watching England’s deserved World Cup defeat in a packed Stortford Clubhouse, this National One game started in very similar fashion, with a couple of unforced handling errors leading to a Blackheath scrum inside Stortford’s 22, at which the home pack dominated to win a penalty, which went to touch and Stortford had no answer to a well-organised driving maul from the lineout and the try was duly converted by their flyhalf. Barely a minute later, though, things became much worse for the visitors, when a free kick at a scrum close to halfway was taken quickly and Stortford’s defence was caught completely flat-footed, with two passes being enough to see Blackheath’s right wing in for another converted try, without a tackle being made. With the home pack continuing to dominate at the scrums, Stortford had to dig deep, which they duly did, forcing their way gradually back into the game with some fierce tackling and good handling in testing conditions. They did this to such good effect that they controlled most of the last 15 minutes of the half, pinning the home side inside their own half and mounting a series of concerted drives at their line. A succession of penalties within their own 22 was eventually punished with a yellow card to Blackheath’s 7 with 35minutes elapsed. Having repelled a brief home sortie into their half, Stortford launched another sequence of forward drives at the opposition line. They were held up over the line once, but an uncharacteristically powerful 5 metre scrum allowed Baxter Wilson to break off and force his way over for a try, well converted by Brad Burr. Stortford were soon back on the attack and only some desperate Blackheath defence and three successive penalties managed to prevent another try almost immediately. Once again, the accumulation of offences brought a yellow card – this time for the home 5 – deep into first half injury time and only shortly after the 7 had returned from the sin bin. Another penalty soon followed, but Stortford were not to be denied and, after another series of powerful thrusts at the line, Tom Lewis dived over the top of the umpteenth ruck for a try out by the touchline. Almost miraculously, Burr kicked the conversion across a very strong wind, scraping the cross bar on its way over, to level the scores as the half ended.
After a halftime downpour, handling became more difficult, favouring Blackheath’s powerful tight game and making it much more difficult for Stortford to move the ball around quickly, to try and escape the home side’s suffocating defence. The visitors, nevertheless enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, with James Apperley stealing a number of home lineout balls, but this time Blackheath’s defence held firm. Eventually, a soft penalty was conceded by a Stortford player for falling on a retreating defender as he went to ground to recover a loose ball close to the home team’s 22. A good penalty kick to touch took them just into the Stortford half but, refuelled by one of many injury stops, the Blackheath pack drove the maul from the resultant lineout at least 15 metres down field. This put them on the front foot and it took only two phases for their forwards to drive over for an unconverted try after 22 minutes. Stortford battled bravely to get the next score, but the home defence remained strong and looked less and less likely to conceded as the game went on. In fact, with time running out they forced their way into the Stortford half and a penalty to touch around the 5 metre line gave their forwards a golden opportunity to deprive Stortford of a losing bonus point. They duly won the lineout, but were immediately penalised for a player joining the maul from an offside position. In seeking maximum distance with the penalty, Stortford failed to make touch and Blackheath were happy to kick the ball out to end the game.
Cambridge 20 – Plymouth Albion 20
Report from Cambridge website
The day started with over 100 people gathering in the bar to watch the Rugby World Cup final. Unfortunately, the result was not the one most of the gathering would have preferred – but congratulations must go to South Africa and also to Ben Spencer who came on for England in the second half – perhaps we should remind him we do not have any of his shirts on display.
While the weather had been marvellous early in the morning a front brought a band of rain. That passed before kick-off, but there was still a stiff wind which would dominate proceedings.
Cambridge had the wind in the first half. A scrum penalty gave Ben Penfold an early chance to add points which the duly did. This was followed by a kick to the corner and a catch and drive which Mike Mayhew touched down, with Ben slotting the extras. Another penalty on twenty minutes stretched the lead to thirteen.
More Cambridge pressure followed and Plymouth were forced to try to run out from their own 22 but Joe Green intercepted, and after a few phases Matt Hema crashed over. Once more Ben added the extras and Cambridge were 20-0 up.
However, Plymouth were not to be written off and although one attack was called back for a forward pass, they were able to narrow the gap with a try just before half time – so we went in 20-7 up.
In the second half, Plymouth came back into the game. Cambridge’s discipline which had been excellent in the first half slipped and Plymouth were able to slot two long-range penalties both from within their own half. A third penalty attempt missed but Plymouth levelled the score with two converted tries.
There was still fifteen minutes to go and Plymouth were in the ascendancy. However, Cambridge held onto the ball knowing that to kick it away risked another scoring opportunity and although unable to score were able to run out the clock. The end when it came was a bit of an anticlimax, a knock on ending proceedings with Cambridge in the Plymouth 22.
In the end a draw was possibly a fair result – but once again most of the spectators went away disappointed. However, there were positives to take into the game against Blackheath next week.
Cambridge 20 – 20 Plymouth
Penalties: Penfold (2)
Tries: Mayhew, Hema
Conversions: Penfold (2)
Darlington Mowden Park 17 – Rosslyn Park 24
Report BY TOM BULMER Darlington Mowden Park
The visitors come away with the win after a close fought game at the Arena.
A disappointing morning seeing England beaten in the World Cup Final, turned into a disappointing day all round, as the afternoon which started so promisingly for DMPRFC, also ended so disappointingly against a Rosslyn Park RFC, who were there for the taking all throughout the match.
With both teams placed in the silver and bronze medal position in National League One and on the field fairly evenly matched, in the end it was down to a case of who would make the least mistakes and that was the visitors Rosslyn Park, who were also more clinical in attack.
Both sides rarely visited each others line, but it was Rosslyn Park who made it count when they did, all three basically emanating from penalties given away by the home side, which were kicked to the corner and either caught and driven or worked out across the line.
Mowden started the better of the sides in the first quarter of the game were full value for their lead, scoring two converted tries before the visitors against a slow to start opposition.
A penalty was kicked to the corner and after only 5 minutes of play, the following catch and drive lineout took the home side well into visitors territory. A series of pick and drive carries followed until the ball was whisked out to full back Brandon ASHER-WOOD was squeezed over. (5 – 0)
Home fly half Warren SEALS accurately added the conversion from close to the by-line. (7 – 0)
ASHER-WOOD was instrumental in Mowden’s second try, when his pace caused problems for Rosslyn Park wide out, before offloading to wing Callum MACKENZIE ,again to squeeze in to the corner. (12 – 0)
SEALS converting again from the by-line. (14 – 0)
Instead of building on the decent start, Mowden eased off the pedal and allowed the visitors two incursions into their half, which both brought rewards.
The first from a catch and drive lineout, driven over the line after some poor, token defence from the home side, with flanker Arthur ELLIS touching down, (14 – 5) with Oliver GROVE adding the conversion which struck the post and scraped through. (14 – 7)
Ten minutes later, visiting lock Gregor GILLANDERS found himself in the back line and his straight run dissected the home line to the line, where a try saving tackle stopped him just short. However, the visitors arrived in numbers and wing Richard CHEESEMAN forced his way over. (14 – 12)
Rosslyn Park’s winger Craig HOLLAND added the extras. (14 – 14)
So all square at oranges and everything to play for, for both sides.
It always looked as if the difference in the sides would be just one score and so it proved to be, when after ten minutes of the restart, visiting hooker Tom VAUGHAN-EDWARDS touched down from another catch and drive effort (14 – 19), with HOLLAND converting. (14 – 21)
SEALS added a penalty for the home side late on (17 – 21), which was matched by HOLLAND (17 – 24), when the visitors were awarded a penalty after home flanker George GROVES was sent to the bin for a late tackle on Oliver GROVE, who after a long period was eventually stretchered off the field with concussion and transferred to hospital by ambulance as a precaution.
The game petered out from that point and with ten minutes to go neither side created a telling opportunity.
Hull Ionians 20 – Rotherham 20
BY STEVE OXLEY Hull Ionians
There was no separating Hull Ionians and Rotherham Titans as the Yorkshire derby ended in stalemate at Brantingham Park.
Hull Ionians and Rotherham shared the spoils in a cagey Yorkshire derby at Brantingham Park. Ionians held the upper hand upfront with the front row of Dave Laverick, Ben Stephenson and Ben Bell to the fore ensuring that the home side avoided defeat for the first time this season.
Rotherham enjoyed significantly more possession but found the home sides defence in excellent form and it was Ionians left wondering what might have been as Max Titchener pushed two late penalty attempts wide.
Ionians started the brighter and Titciheners clever kicked paved the way for a 5m scrum which resulted in Rotherham being driven back and penalty try awarded.
The home side then found themselves under the cosh on their own line resulting in the binning of lock Joe Makin but superb defence repelled Rotherham’s charge time and time again and all they had to show was a Morgan Bunting penalty just as Makin returned to the field.
The half closed with Rotherham seeing plenty of the ball but strong defence only resulted in Bunting having another shot at goal which sailed wide. Right on the whistle Rotherham infringed just inside their own half and Titchener was on target with the resulting penalty and Ionians went in 10-3 to the good at half time.
Rotherham started the second half on top and after several phases of possession it was no surprise when the gap was created for Zak Poole to crash over.
To their credit Ionians regrouped and James Sanderson made a superb break down the blind side off the back of the maul and when Rotherham knocked on attempting to intercept the Ionians scrum exerted more pressure resulting in a penalty which Titchener converted.
Ionians then saw front rower Dave Laverick somewhat harshly yellow carded for a high tackle and extensive pressure with the extra man told for Rotherham when Dan Leake found half a yard to chip over the top and score. Sam Hollingsworth added the extras. It looked for all the world that this score would be added to but Ionians scrambled superbly in defence to dislodge the ball in the act of scoring thus preventing a certain seven pointer.
As Ionians returned to a full complement the scrum again caused havoc resulting in a penalty and the home side opted for a kick to the corner and the ensuing lineout saw Ben Stephenson driven over for the try with Titchener adding the extras.
Shortly after Ionians where penalised at the scrum in the form of a free kick and a quick tap saw the home side pinned on their own line where Tom Bacon found just enough space to pick up and score. Sam Hollingsworth was off target with the resulting conversion and the scores were locked at 20-20 with less than ten minutes remaining.
The game closed with Rotherham seeing more of the ball in a midfield battle but Ionians’ rare forays into their opponents half saw them gain two penalties but Titchener couldn’t convert either, the latter in the second minute of injury time and Ionians had to settle for two points which sees them move off the bottom of the table and above Canterbury who are the next visitors to Brantingham Park in a fortnight’s time.
Rams 29 – Cinderford 7
Report by Richard Ashton, Rams
A magnificent second-quarter performance in which they ran in three tries to secure a bonus-point before half-time, followed by a tactical and defensive masterclass in the second half, led to a convincing success which left the Director of Rugby, Seb Reynolds, lauding his side.
He said: “I’m really delighted with the performance. It’s been quite a while since we lost two in a row and you have to deal with that mentally, and we’re finding out at this level it’s a hard grind.
“To get a good win against a really physical Cinderford side was very pleasing and the fact we got the bonus-point in the first half was important. Any bonus-point you get at this level is hugely important, so it was nice to get that and home form is very important.”
The hosts took a ninth-minute lead when Connor Stapley barged his way over from close range following a series of pick-and-goes around the Cinderford line, debutant full-back Will Partington adding the extras.
However, the away side hit back early in the second quarter when centre Terence Barbarasina dotted down for a converted score.
Rams took control with a quick-fire double, though, with James Baker powering over before a deft grubber kick from hooker Ben Henderson – who went for the option rather than putting the ball through the hands with a four-on-one overlap – was hoovered up on the left wing by Conor Corrigan, the speedster showing excellent feet to put his side 19-7 to the good.
Reflecting on Henderson’s decision-making, Reynolds joked: “Sometimes I just have to let Ben be Ben. You might say to him ‘why did you do that?’ but he’s put some lovely kicks in before and if he recognises why he’s doing them and what for, then I don’t mind that. He’s great.”
Following Corrigan’s effort, the bonus-point was secured by half-time for the home side, a lovely off-load from Partington allowing Henry Bird to go over for his side’s fourth try.
Cinderford rallied as the interval approached, but a heroic Rams defensive effort kept them out, a passage of play which Reynolds believed was key.
He commented: “We took our chances really well, and before the weather came in. We were able to get points on the board, and it was then very hard to score.
“Because of the way the second half went with the weather, not conceding before half-time ended up being a crucial period of the game. The fact we were able to apply pressure in defence, deny them scoring and then force them to kick it out was a huge moment.”
He continued: “We were bold, we wanted to try and play a bit. I think if you just try and truck it down the nine-ten channel against Cinderford they’ll just smash you backwards, so we knew we had to be slightly different in the way we approached the game and I think we had a nice variety to our play.
“The outside backs were excellent and played some really good territory and the pack were very aggressive in their carrying, getting us over the gain-line.”
With the weather worsening considerably after the break – the rain beginning to lash down and the strong wind which had been behind the hosts proceeding to blow more across the pitch – Rams shut the game down superbly, with scrum-half Ollie Cole, the returning Stevie Bryant and debutant Partington particularly impressive.
Reynolds paid tribute to the trio, remarking: “Stevie’s been brilliant. It was his 101st cap and he’s just a brilliant player – one of the strongest defensive centres I’ve seen at the club and it was great to have him back. He added a real energy to the group and the squad were excited for him which was great.
“I’ve watched Ollie come across from Reading as a young 18-year-old and seen him mature into a really, really good scrum-half. He’s got a very good tempo to his game and a good pass, but he’s also added maturity to it and he can read the game and have control. His box kicking was exceptional.
“We felt Will could really help us in the territory side of things and he brings a different skill set. He’s been exceptionally good in training and he played well for the Titans in the last couple of weeks so we wanted to have a look at him and he was excellent.”
With the home side kicking effectively and defending superbly, they were able to keep their opponents at bay, the only score of the second period a Partington penalty in the 64th minute which pushed his side more than three tries clear and ensured the game was safe.
Reflecting on the second half, Reynolds concluded: “The midfield were outstanding. The chop tackles which were going in were very good, and Drew (Humberstone) and Will played a very good tactical game along with Ollie and his box kicks, so we were able to pin Cinderford down. We got a little bit lucky because the wind changed and we were able to use that to our advantage.”
Having gone into the game on the back of two consecutive losses for the first time since January 20, 2017 – ironically at Cinderford – and with injuries to the likes of Alex Seers, Jak Rossiter and Andrew Denham, Reynolds was pleased his side stepped up to the mark.
He said: “We knew at some point this level was going to show us what it’s really about and you get some knocks, you lose some games and you just have to suck it up and get on with it. You can’t cry about it or wonder what’s going on and whether the bubble’s burst – there was no bubble in the first place.
“This level is a grind and it’s about getting on week-to-week. It’s great to have the win, but we can’t over-celebrate it because we’ve got a strong side to play against next week.”
The result lifts Rams back up to fourth in the table, but Reynolds now merely has Rotherham in his sights for next Saturday (3pm).
He concluded: “It’s a long journey and a game against a team we’ve never played before as a club. We’re always excited about going to new places. They’ve got a big pack, they’ll be physical, but we’ll look to take them on as best we can.”
Rams 29 Cinderford 7
Tries: C Stapley 9, Baker 26, Corrigan 28, Bird 36
Conversions: Partington 10, 27, 37
Penalty: Partington 64
Try: Barbarasina 22
Conversion: Butler 23
Half Time: 26-7
Star Man: Ollie Cole (Rams)
Referee: Nick Wood
Rams: Partington, Bird, Bryant, Jones (Hayhow 70), Corrigan, Humberstone, Cole (Moates 53); Kidd, Henderson (Moffitt 72), Baker (Zeiss 72), Taylor, C Stapley, Guttridge (Wolf 65), Vooght, R Stapley.
Cinderford: Sheldon, Smith, Barbarasina, Hayes, Bogue, Butler (Hawley 61), Williams (Frame 61); Dawe, Taylor, Elliott (Brockett 41), Gilbert, Lemon, Lane (Jerrum 53), Beer (Mullis 53), Hone
Richmond 25 – Old Elthamians 12
Report by Tim Forrester
After the drama of the morning, Richmond brightened the spirits of their supporters with a 25-12 bonus point victory over first time visitors Old Elthamians.
The fourth try was scored deep in injury time and fittingly it was captain Cam Mitchell, on his 100th Richmond appearance, who got the crucial touchdown. With this eighth victory in nine games, Richmond extended their lead in National League 1 to four points. Old Elthamians, convincing victors over Chinnor the previous week, slip back to eighth position in a tightly contested league.
Richmond made just one change from the previous week, fit again Jimmy Litchfield replacing Luke Green on the replacement bench. On a wet and increasingly windy day, Richmond got off to the better start. Elthamians had plenty of early possession from two penalties but could make no headway against the Richmond defensive wall. The wind on the far touchline was hard to judge for both kickers and throwers and the visitors’ fly half Tom White kicked out on the full to give Richmond a line out thirty metres out. Jake Parker secured possession and Richmond forced a penalty, Tom Hodgson kicking neatly to five metres. Max Crawford then secured this line out ball and, with a bit of help from the backs, the pack drove over, Ross Grimstone doing the honours at the back. Rob Kirby added an excellent conversion and, after nine minutes, Richmond held a 7-0 lead.
Richmond were soon back on the attack, Jamie Gibbs angling his kick nicely to set up the initial position. Once again, OEs conceded a penalty under pressure and allowed Richmond to set up again five metres out. With the routine well established, prop Ken Dowding was the scorer, Parker having secured the line out ball. Kirby’s conversion from the touchline narrowly missed.
At this stage Richmond looked fully in control with the home pack dominant and any Elthamian attacks firmly rebuffed or driven back to their own half. However, after twenty minutes, a grubber kick ahead bounced perfectly to provide the visitors with a five metre line out. Under pressure for the first time, Richmond held out against a sequence of line out, penalty and scrum before a turnover allowed them to clear. Richmond were soon back on the attack and worked an overlap on the right, with the front five to the fore. From the knock on, OEs won the ball at the scrum and the left footed White kicked a steepler, which went backwards in the wind. As often happens, the miskick caught out the defence and the visitors were able to regain possession. In a flash quick hands set scrum half Ollie Claxton clear on the outside and he did very well to beat a final tackler and run sixty metres to the corner.
With their tails up, the OEs now looked a different side and added a second score in the 40th minute. A Richmond clearance kick was held back by the wind, and an offside penalty conceded. Back chat cost a further ten metres and, from a second penalty, former Richmond player Mike Kovacic took a quick tap to dive over. White’s conversion levelled the scores.
The third quarter of the game seemed to be dominated by scrums being slowly set and then reset. The stalemate was finally broken in the 57th minute. Lewis Dennett had replaced the injured Giles Bromley-Martin and his left-footed kicking provided a useful foil to the right-footed Hodgson. When he kicked to just outside the 22, the pack provided the initial impetus before the ball was spread wide. Finally space was worked on the wide left and Kirby was able to send Hamish Graham clear for a good try.
Richmond extended their lead in the 65th minute. The forwards mounted another strong driving maul and earned a penalty as the OEs pulled it down. Kirby’s successful kick gave his side a two score cushion and the focus was now on adding the bonus point. The Richmond pack were now well on top, the front row ‘finishers’ adding extra ballast at the scrums and Crawford dominant at the line out. Gradually Richmond built the pressure, Gibbs setting them up in the 22. Scrum dominance was now crucial and David Banfield was later adjudged Player of the Match. Given a penalty in the 78th minute, the team opted for another set scrum. Replacement Toby Dabell ran a crucial wide line to get winger Dan Kelly close, before the forwards patiently picked and drived to get within inches. Finally, with the clock well past 80 minutes, skipper Mitchell somehow found some space and dived over to the delight of his team.
Director of Rugby Steve Hill said: “This was an important win today. In very difficult conditions we played the required style of rugby to ensure victory. Our driving maul was a real weapon whilst our disruption of their lineout was crucial. Attacking opportunities were limited but it was great to see Cam Mitchell score the bonus point try on his 100th appearance”
Richmond’s next fixture is away against Canterbury on Saturday (KO 3pm).
Richmond 25 defeated Old Elthamians 12
Tries: Grimstone, Dowding, Graham, Mitchell
Conversions: Kirby 1
Penalties: Kirby 1
Old Elthamians 12
Tries: Claxton, Kovacic