Caldy and Loughborough Students will be hoping to end up on the winning side in National One this weekend as two of the bottom three teams search for vital victories.
Both clubs currently find themselves in the relegation zone after 10 rounds and with the first break in the season to come next Saturday, Caldy and Students will be desperate to triumph tomorrow.
The Wirral outfit have lost their last seven games and currently sit one point adrift of safety while Loughborough are seven points away from climbing out of danger. Both sides take on teams in around the bottom three this weekend as Caldy host Hull Ionians and Loughborough welcome Old Albanian to Epinal Way.
The other side in the relegation spots as things stand are Fylde, who will be aiming to build on last weekend’s win when they welcome Blackheath to Lancashire.
At the right end of the table, Coventry are now the only side in the top three National Leagues to have won every game so far this term and they will be hoping that record remains intact when they travel to Old Elthamians tomorrow.
Elsewhere, Ampthill and District take on Plymouth Albion in what should be cracker plus Darlington Mowden Park host Rosslyn Park, Esher go to in-form Bishop’s Stortford and Birmingham Moseley visit Cambridge.
Old Elthamians v Coventry
League leaders Coventry take the trip down to Old Elthamians this week after securing 10 wins in a row last Saturday. Rowland Winter’s men beat Caldy last time out to move 10 points clear at the top of National One. The Midlands side are also 18 games unbeaten in the league and visit College Meadow this weekend as they look to continue that impressive form.
Following a draw at Plymouth Albion, Old Elthamians would have been disappointed with their first half display against Ampthill and District in Round 10. Having trailed 21-0 at half-time, the OEs could not recover. Currently, Gavin Lach’s side sit seventh in the table after an impressive first three months of the season, but they will now be looking to respond to last week’s defeat as they aim to upset the league leaders for the first time this season.
Plymouth Albion v Ampthill and District
After moving to second in the table following victory over Old Elthamians, Ampthill and District could create some breathing space in the top two when they travel to fourth placed Plymouth Albion this weekend. The A’s are going about their business nicely, having won four of their last five matches, so an unwelcome defeat this weekend would certainly dent any promotion hopes their may harbour.
But, Paul Turner’s side visit the south-coast in the knowledge that Plymouth Albion have not won in their last three matches. Since the middle of October, Albion have picked up two draws and a defeat which has left Kieran Hallett’s men playing catch up. Once again, Plymouth had to settle for a share of the points last weekend away at Rosslyn Park and now Albion will be hoping for a much better performance at home as they look to get their season back on track.
Darlington Mowden Park v Rosslyn Park
Keeping a close eye on proceedings at Brickfields will be Darlington Mowden Park. The third placed side lost to Esher last weekend which saw them lose ground on Coventr and now Danny Brown’s side return to the Northern Echo Arena this Saturday looking to once again bounce back from a defeat as they aim to end a patchy run of form.
But it won't be an easy task for DMP after their opponents, Rosslyn Park, so nearly beat Plymouth Albion last Saturday. Kieron Power’s men have only won three times this season, but that performance at the Rock last Saturday just showed what his side are really capable of. The London-based club now take the long journey up north and if they put in a similar display to last weekend, then Park could come away from Darlington with an excellent victory.
Fylde v Blackheath
Fifth-placed Blackheath take the trip to Fylde this week and they’ll be looking to respond from a disappointing display against Bishop Stortford six days ago. James Shanahan’s side saw a 19-point lead disappear as Stortford snatched victory at Well Hall. It is now two defeats in a row for ‘Club’ so they will want to taste victory for the first time since October 21st when they travel to Lancashire tomorrow.
Blackheath will be coming up against a Fylde side that has renewed confidence. The men from Woodlands picked up just their second win of the season last weekend as Greg Smith’s penalty clinched victory at Old Albanian. Warren Spragg’s side sit eight points from safety as we enter the second-third of the season and Fylde will now be hoping to secure back-to-back victories for the first time since February as they look to move away from danger.
Bishop’s Stortford v Esher
Both Bishop’s Stortford and Esher come into Round 11 on a high. The hosts are thoroughly enjoying their time in National One as Andy Long’s men currently occupy sixth in the table and they are only six points off second place. That, of course, won’t be in the mind of the Stortford players as they will be purely focused on a fifth straight win when Esher visit Silver Leys tomorrow.
Stortford currently sit second in the form table – only behind Coventry – so Esher’s challenge on Saturday will be a tough one. However, the Surrey based side are building their own positive sequence of results and they head into this fixture following superb wins against Darlington Mowden Park and Blackheath. The trick for Esher is to now translate those excellent home performances into their away matches as they have lost all four of their games on their travels thus far. Can Esher end their woes on the road or will Stortford’s sublime displays continue?
Cambridge v Birmingham Moseley
Birmingham Moseley head to Cambridge this weekend with the Midlands club currently going through their best form of the campaign. Richard Protherough’s side have won three of their last four matches which has lifted them into the top half of the table and for the men from Billesley Common, that is where they ought to be. The side relegated from National One in 2016 are slowly building their way back up the division and after a fifth placed finish last term, Moseley know they can challenge towards those top spots.
However, in their way this weekend is a Cambridge side hoping for a response. After a brilliant win at Ampthill and District in Round Eight, the Blood and Sand have failed to build on that. They were well beaten by Coventry two weeks ago, but more frustratingly for Ross Stewart, his side lost to Hull Ionians last Saturday. Now, a reaction is needed at Volac Park and a maximum point win for Cambridge could see them leapfrog Moseley in the table.
Caldy v Hull Ionians
Following their aforementioned victory against Cambridge, Hull Ionians jumped out of the bottom three and up to 12th in the table. The men from Brantingham Park hit back after a disappointing display against Loughborough Students and now they have another opportunity to distance themselves from trouble when they take on another team below them in the table.
The I’s have won three of their last five games – which is the joint best record in the bottom half of the division – so the test that faces Caldy this Saturday is a tricky one. Simon Verbickas’ side begun life in National One very positively as they secured two wins from their first three matches, but since then, they have fallen dramatically. The men from Paton Fields come into this fixture having lost their last seven matches and last week’s defeat to Coventry saw them slip into the bottom three. However, Hull are yet to win away from home this term so that may give the Wirral side some hope as they aim to stop the rot this Saturday.
Loughborough Students v Old Albanian
Old Albanian were moments away from securing their fourth win of the season last Saturday. With Gavin Hogg’s side facing two of the bottom three sides in early November, a victory against Fylde would have been the perfect way to kick off the month. However, a late penalty saw a win snatched away from them, but now OAs must respond when they take the trip to a struggling Loughborough Students side.
OAs are one point clear of the relegation zone and seven ahead of their opponents this weekend, so Loughborough will be desperate to close that gap. After a commanding display against Hull Ionians in Round Nine, Students were outplayed by Birmingham Moseley in the first 40 last Saturday and ultimately, they slipped to an eighth loss of the campaign. Loughborough have done well in recent years to stay clear of a major relegation battle, but they will have to turn their fortunes around as quickly as possible this season, otherwise they could have a fight for survival on their hands.
National League 1 2017/18 - Points Table
National League 1 2016/17 - Leading Points-Scorers
National League 1 2016/17 - Leading Try-Scorers