Caldy edge past Sale FC to clinch the title

Caldy sealed promotion to National One after a thriller against Sale FC
©Derek Salisbury

Caldy have secured promotion and the National Two North title after a narrow victory over Sale FC in Round 28.

The Wirral side had to overturn a 17-point half-time deficit to seal the league championship and automatic promotion to National One.

Their victory over Sale FC was their 20th in a row and Simon Verbickas’ men will now be able to enjoy the final two games of the season, while Sale have to settle for a play-off against one of three sides from National Two South.  

While there was joy at the top of the table, there was heartache at the bottom of the division as Preston Grasshoppers had their relegation confirmed after a defeat at home to Harrogate. The Yorkshire outfit are now four points clear of the relegation places after rivals Sheffield Tigers and Scunthorpe both picked up bonus-points in defeat.

Elsewhere in National Two North, Otley still aren’t mathematically safe from relegation as they fell to a sixth defeat in a row at home to Leicester Lions while Wharfedale confirmed their place in this division for next season despite losing away at Chester.

Other results in Round 28 saw Hinckley beat Stourbridge while South Leicester are guaranteed to finish in the top eight after victory over Luctonians.

Caldy 28-26 Sale FC

Caldy have been crowned champions of National Two North after a dramatic win over Sale FC in their top of the table clash.

The visitors deservedly led 23-6 at the break thanks to tries from Tom Ailes and Sam Stelmaszek as well as the boot of Liam McGovern who continued his fine kicking form.

It was superb display by Jonathan Keep's side in the first period, but Caldy came out with a point to prove after the break.

Nick Royle and Rhys Hayes both went over soon after the restart for the home side before McGovern, who nudged over 13 points in the first period, added another penalty to his tally to move Sale six points clear.

However, back came Caldy an a second try for Royle closed the gap to just a point after Chris Johnson was yellow-carded. 

The game was on knife-edge with both sides giving it their all to snatch the victory and it was the home side who ultimatley prevailed as Jack Lavin slotted over a penalty five minutes from time to seal Caldy's title and automatic promotion to National One.

Otley 17-65 Leicester Lions

Leicester Lions tightened their grip on third spot in National Two North with a nine-try bonus-point win over Otley at Cross Green.

The visitors were ahead 20-12 at half-time before they ran riot in the second period as they cruised to their seventh away victory of the season.

The result for Andy Key’s side means they remain three points ahead of fourth placed Sedgley Park and they have also now surpassed their point’s total of last season.

As for Otley, they are still not mathematically safe from relegation just yet. As things stand, they are 10 points clear of the drop after six straight defeats so the Yorkshire side will be aiming for a positive result in 12 days’ time when they travel to Harrogate.

Scunthorpe 33-72 Sedgley Park

Sedgley Park produced a stunning display to crush Scunthorpe, meaning the home side have now slipped closer to relegation.

The Greens dropped to 15th place in the table and they are now six points from confirmed safety in this division with just two matches left to play.

Hooker Johnny Matthews scored a brace of tries in the first-half against Scunthorpe, as Sedgley Park turned a four-point half-time lead into a 39-point winning margin.

Jamie Harrison, Andy Riley and four second-half scores helped Sedge secure their sixth away win of the season.

Scunthorpe scored tries through Tom Foster, Jake Barron, Nick Sydall, Jack Leaning and James Dyson (2) to secure a bonus-point, but a below-par performance in the second period means the Greens are facing an uphill battle to stay in this division.

Chester 22-15 Wharfedale

Wharfedale confirmed their status in National Two North for another year despite falling to their 14th away defeat of the season against Chester.

Freeman Payne’s first-half try after a break from halfway gave Chester the early lead before Wharfedale levelled the scores through James Tincknell.

James Preston restored Chester’s lead before the break and a score from Alex Reed kept Wharfedale at arm’s length in the second half.

Wharfedale did claim a losing bonus-point thanks to Josh Burridge try and a late penalty from Tom Barrett and that point was enough for Dale to retain their position in this division for next season.

Tynedale 41-40 Sheffield Tigers

Ash Smith’s late penalty earned Tynedale victory over Sheffield Tigers, who are now four points from safety after this heart-breaking defeat at Corbridge.

The visitors led 23-14 at the interval after running in two tries through Liam Wallace and Pete Swatkins; Tyne responded with scores from Smith and Oli Walker.

Walker’s second five-pointer reduced the deficit after the break, but the hosts soon found themselves 37-21 behind as Lee Monks grabbed a brace for the Tigers with Mark Ireland adding the extras.

Tyne hit back as Rob Parker dotted down whilst Smith slotted over another penalty and the home side then went in front for the first time in this contest a try from close range gave them a one point advantage.

Ireland then nudged the Tigers in front in the final few minutes but Smith kept his cool to land a crucial penalty to seal the win for an in-form Tynedale.

Hinckley 36-24 Stourbridge

Hinckley are now guaranteed to finish in ninth place in National Two North after a bonus-point win over Stourbridge at Leicester Road.

Stour scored the opening try of the game but Alex Salt’s effort gave Hinckley the lead.

Joe Wilson immediately followed Salt over the whitewash to give the hosts a 20-10 half-time time advantage.

Further tries from Scott Hamilton and Luke Coltman as well as six more points from the boot of Wilson sealed victory for Hinckley, although two second-half scores from Stourbridge kept the game interesting until the home side moved clear in the final 10 minutes.

South Leicester 40-28 Luctonians

South Leicester confirmed their top half finish in National Two North as they held off a second-half Luctonians fightback to secure their fifth win in their last six matches.

South Leicester shaded the opening period, with a converted try plus three Rickie Aley penalties giving them a 16-8 lead.

Frank Kelly had crossed in the first half for Luctonians and his side reduced the deficit to five points immediately after the restart as Louis Silver slotted over a penalty.

The home side responded by crossing for their second score before Ollie Allsopp dotted down for the Lucts to keep the visitors in touch.

This pattern continued for the rest of the half and despite Will Hodnett and Dan Smith crossing for the away side, South stayed clinical enough to seal the victory.

Preston Grasshoppers 32-48 Harrogate

Preston Grasshoppers have been relegated from National Two North after suffering a home defeat against Harrogate.

Hoppers had amassed 17 points inside the first quarter of this match after tries from Matt Beaty and Sam Gale.

The home side were able to add to that before the break as Matt Fring crossed to give Garth Dew’s men a 25-12 lead.

Keane Naylor and David Doherty had crossed for Gate in the first period and the visitors looked move lively after the restart as Sam Fox darted over, but the decisive moment in the game soon followed.

Preston’s Alastair Murray was yellow-carded for a high tackle and Harrogate took full advantage in his absence as they scored 12 points through Sam Brady and Ben Dixon.

Harrogate continued to put pressure on Hoppers and their intensity was rewarded as Oli Rosillo dotted down to put the away side further ahead.

Luke Edwards then sealed the win for the Yorkshire outfit with a wonderful 50 metre break, but Hoppers had the last say in this pulsating encounter as Gale dotted down for his second try of the match.

National League 2 North 2017/18 - Points Table