Chester’s top two aspirations were dented in Round 28 as Sedgley Park produced a superb display to defeat the National Two North promotion hopefuls.
Jan van Deventer’s men slipped to a heavy defeat at Park Lane and the second-placed side are now six points ahead of their nearest challengers, Huddersfield.
The Cheshire outfit are also five points behind league leaders Hull Ionians who defeated Macclesfield at Priory Park and the loss for the Blues confirmed their relegation to the fifth tier.
South Leicester also fell through the trapdoor in Round 28 despite their excellent bonus-point win over Otley because Sheffield Tigers picked up a victory against Peterborough Lions.
Elsewhere in National Two North, there were home triumphs for Huddersfield, Tynedale, Preston Grasshoppers and Leicester Lions.
Macclesfield 26-47 Hull Ionians
Hull Ionians have moved five points clear at the top of National Two North after a seven-try win over Macclesfield, who had their relegation confirmed in Round 28.
Both James Tincknell and Mark Wigham scored twice in the first period and a score from Steve Slingsby gave the I’s a 33-0 lead at half-time.
Slingsby and Lewis Minikin added further tries for the league leaders, with Josh Redfern (2), Will Davies and Thomas Burden replying for Macc in a much improved second 40 by the hosts.
With Chester losing to Sedgley Park, Hull Ionians now have a cushion at the summit while Macc’s two-year stint at this level has come to an end following 22 defeats this term.
Sedgley Park 45-7 Chester
Chester’s top two ambitions suffered a setback in Round 28 as Sedgley Park extended their winning streak to seven matches with a victory over the promotion hopefuls.
The hosts sparked into life in the second-half as five of their six tries came after the interval at Park Lane.
Sedge did open the scoring as winger Richard Lepori went over on the overlap unopposed, but Chester were able to level the contest just before the interval through a pick and go through Rhodri Parry.
"We were forced onto the back foot all game and were never allowed to get going by a quality side who outplayed and outclassed us on the day.” @RUFCChester coach Jan Van Deventer reflects on a tough defeat. https://t.co/Plq6Bjv7NZ— Chester Standard (@standardchester) April 7, 2019
However, Chester were blown away by Sedge after the restart as Steve Collins landed a penalty before Andy Riley (2), Lepori, Matt Riley and Ollie Glasse all touched down for the home side.
The defeat for Chester leaves them five points behind league leaders Hull Ionians, but Jan van Deventer’s men are now only six points clear of third-placed Huddersfield.
As for Sedge, their recent resurgence has left them seven points behind Chester but surely it is too late for Matt Bebbington’s men to sneak into the top two.
Huddersfield 45-33 Fylde
Huddersfield have kept their chances of finishing in the top two alive as they scored six tries in an enthralling clash with Fylde at Lockwood Park.
Gareth Lewis’ side are now only six points behind Chester and they had a bonus point secured by half-time against Fylde courtesy of Francis Entressengle, Mark Pease, Arthur Wilkinson and Chris Johnson.
A penalty try plus a score from Richard Piper was enough to seal the win for Field.
Fylde had actually started on the front foot thanks to Harlan Corrie’s brace, but Huddersfield’s surge before half-time proved decisive despite tries from Nick Ashcroft (2) and Connor Wilkinson in the second 40.
Tynedale 27-21 Wharfedale
Will Roberts scored two quick-fire tries at the beginning of the second half as Tynedale came from behind to beat Wharfedale.
At Corbridge where Tyne have lost just twice all season, the hosts did trail 14-12 at half-time as a brace via Sam Gaudie wiped out scores from Jake Rodgers and Rob Parker.
But a double in seven minutes from Roberts gave Tyne the advantage and they never relinquished their lead.
Parker landed a penalty to keep the hosts in control and despite Ken Houghton dotting down eight minutes from time, Tyne held out for the victory.
Preston Grasshoppers 40-34 Stourbridge
Tom Davidson scored 20 points as Preston Grasshoppers narrowly beat Stourbridge in a topsy-turvy affair at Lightfoot Green.
Hoppers seemed to be cruising as they led 32-17 just after half-time only for Stour to battle back and reduce Preston’s advantage to just one point.
A penalty from Chris Scott, a penalty try and a score from Chris Roddy put the hosts under pressure, but Conor Trueman’s late try ensured a home win.
The bulk of Davidson’s points came in the first half as Hoppers built a 26-17 lead with the fly-half scoring a try and kicking three conversions after Tyler Spence, Matt Lampery and Oliver Trippier had all crossed.
Davidson then went on to land three penalties to help Hoppers over the line while Stour’s other tries came via Nigel Mukarati and Dan Rundle, with Scott also kicking a drop-goal.
Otley 38-41 South Leicester
South Leicester have been relegated from National Two North despite holding on to win a thrilling encounter against Otley.
The Midlands club have spent the last four years at this level, but they will be plying their trade in the fifth-tier next term.
Javiah Pohe, Will Ward, Reece Harris and Jacob Ham all went over for South, who were also awarded a penalty try.
Charlie Hudson, Adam Malthouse and Henry Watson crossed for Otley and the hosts did trail 41-19 heading into the final six minutes.
And even though they were able to produce a late flurry of tries from Joe Gatus (2) and Josh Hall, Otley just ran out of time to complete a remarkable turnaround.
Leicester Lions 14-10 Hinckley
Leicester Lions edged past Hinckley to secure the local bragging rights from the latest Midlands derby in National Two North.
The Lions got off to a bad start as Aaron Phillip scored after five minutes to put Hinckley ahead at TMDP Park.
Their lead didn’t last too long and their resistance was broken when Ed Sumpter barged over from close range.
Joe Wilson put Hinckley back in front with a penalty, but the key moment came just before the hour as Tom Aviss’ try sealed the win for the Lions.
Sheffield Tigers 53-19 Peterborough Lions
Sheffield Tigers have secured another season of National Two North rugby after a dominant win over Peterborough Lions.
A hat-trick from Henri Packard and a try from Jamie Broadley in the first half gave the Tigers a 20-14 lead after 40 minutes.
Second-half scores from Chris Pond, Broadley, Ashley Holland and Packard meant the Yorkshire club wrapped up the victory which keeps them in National Two North for a fourth consecutive year.
Jack Lewis, Jack Askham and Will Nankivell crossed for Peterborough Lions, who still haven’t won away from home this term.