Hull Ionians kicked a late penalty to earn a crucial victory against Rosslyn Park in their battle for survival in National One.
The I’s snatched a vital win in London which now leaves them two points clear of the relegation zone and this triumph was pivotal as rivals Blaydon also left it late to beat Cambridge away from home.
Blaydon’s joy quickly turned to frustration after seeing Hull Ionians’ result, but this fight for safety is far from over.
Many might see it as just two sides battling for survival, but Fylde will have to be careful that they don’t get dragged into this dogfight. The Lancashire side fell to their fifth defeat in a row away at Darlington Mowden Park in Round 28 and that result now leaves them eight points clear of Blaydon with two matches left to play.
At the right end of the table, Hartpury College continue to make history. Their victory over Birmingham Moseley meant that John Barnes’ side have now secured 138 points this season which is a new record in National One and they also still remain on course to complete this season without suffering a defeat.
Elsewhere in this division, Plymouth Albion look as though they have secured the runners-up spot after victory at Brickfields against Ampthill and District while Coventry thrashed Old Albanian.
In the bottom-half, already relegated Macclesfield produced a fine performance to beat a struggling Blackheath side while Esher edged out Loughborough Students in the Midlands.
Birmingham Moseley 14-32 Hartpury College
Hartpury College remain on course to complete this season undefeated thanks to a bonus-point win over Birmingham Moseley at Billesley Common.
Harry Cochrane and Mat Protheroe tries saw Hartpury lead 12-0 and despite James Elliot’s score for Moseley, the newly crowned champions moved further ahead as Jake Polledri took advantage of a yellow card shown to the visitors.
College then turned the screw after the break as Mat Gilbert and Levi Davies added touchdowns, while Robbie Shaw kicked a total of seven points.
Moseley continued to battle and they were rewarded for their endeavour when hooker Will Crane smashed his way over with two minutes left to play.
Plymouth Albion 19-14 Ampthill and District
Plymouth Albion have all but confirmed second place in the National One table as they beat Ampthill and District to extend their winning streak to 11 matches.
The game was level at 7-7 at the break as Karim Lynch dotted down on 37 minutes only to see his try matched by Tom Cowan-Dickie.
Albion took the lead after the restart as Ed Holmes crossed, but the A’s tied the game up just before the hour as Lynch grabbed his second score of the day.
With 10 minutes to go, Ben Gulliver was yellow-carded for the visitors and Kieran Hallet’s side capitalised on their man advantage as Rupert Cooper went over for the decisive score.
Matt Shepherd was then sin-binned for Albion a minute from time, but despite waves of pressure from Ampthill, Plymouth held on to seal yet another victory.
Old Albanian 8-73 Coventry
Old Albanian were given a hammering by Coventry as Rowland Winter’s men recorded their highest ever winning margin away from home.
James Pritchard went over for Old Albanian’s only try right at the end of the second half as Coventry ran in 11 tries overall.
Max Trimble scored a hat-trick for Cov while Heath Stevens bagged a brace. Scott Tolmie, Olly Povoas, Rob Knox, Pete White, Phil Boulton and Will Maisey also crossed with Maisey landing eight conversions as Coventry secured their sixth win on the bounce.
Rosslyn Park 29-30 Hull Ionians
Hull Ionians scrum-half Isaac Green’s late penalty kept his side outside the relegation places after a dramatic win over Rosslyn Park.
Trailing 15-13 at the interval, the I’s battled back to lead for the fifth time in this contest when Green slotted over his penalty late on.
Second Row Ed Falkingham responded to home tries by Jack Gash and Henry Robinson to keep his side in it before the break.
Both teams exchanged tries after the restart as Andrew Henderson’s score was matched by Ali Thompson before the away side went ahead through Steve Slingsby.
The visitors now led 27-22, but Park reacted on 68 minutes as Andy Reay hit a good line to cross, however Green’s late kick snatched a vital victory for Hull as they now sit two points clear of the drop zone.
Macclesfield 24-12 Blackheath
Already relegated Macclesfield secured only their fourth win of the season as a positive display earned them a victory over Blackheath at Priory Park.
The hosts dominated after a quick start as tries from Matt King, Sam Moss and Ryan Parkinson helped them in to a 21-0 lead the break.
Blackheath closed the gap to nine points inside the first 10 minutes of the second half as Jesse Liston and Jake Lloyd both crossed to give ‘Club’ hope.
However, Lewis Barker’s penalty just after the hour ultimately sealed the win for the Blues who seem determined to end a tough campaign on a high.
Darlington Mowden Park 66-22 Fylde
Fylde are slowly being dragged back into the relegation battle as they were comfortable beaten by Darlington Mowden Park at the Northern Echo Arena.
Gary Law scored a hat-trick with Adam Radwan grabbing a brace while Darren Fearn, Ben Frankland, Ralph Appleby, James Fitzpatrick and Joel Gill also touched down.
The home team did fall behind early on when Greg Smith landed a penalty, but once DMP opened their account for the afternoon, they dominated proceedings.
Fylde’s tries came from Matt Lamprey, Scott Armstrong and Oli Brennard but this defeat for the Lancashire side now means they are eight points clear of the drop zone with two matches left to play.
Loughborough Students 37-38 Esher
A late penalty from Owen Waters clinched Esher’s third win in a row as they edged past Loughborough Students at Epinal Way.
This game was always in the balance right from the first whistle and a half-time score of 17-17 reflected that.
Tries from Yiannis Loizias and Rotimi Segun were matched by scores from Waters and Andy Garner and after the break, both sides continued to trade blows.
Segun’s second as well as another score were cancelled out by efforts from Charlie Gossington and Tom James, but a Waters penalty broke the cycle to give Esher a three point lead on 67 minutes.
Loughborough, who were down to 14-men due to a yellow-card, then went in front with their fifth try of the afternoon but Waters was on hand to nudge his side one point clear with four minutes to go.
The hosts hit back with three points of their own, but it was Esher and Waters who had the final say as he kept his cool to seal the victory.
Cambridge 40-43 Blaydon
Blaydon grabbed a narrow but vital victory over Cambridge to move to within two points of safety in National One.
Despite a stunning comeback at Volac Park, the north-east side remain in the bottom two as relegation rivals Hull Ionians upset the odds by beating Rosslyn Park away from home.
Blaydon were 24-21 up in this encounter at the break after a frantic first half. Scores from Chris Wearmouth, Ben Stevenson and Ryan Foreman helped the visitors into a slender lead with Cambridge’s tries coming via Dan Lewis, Ean Griffiths and Albert Portsmouth.
Mike Ayrton’s score for Cambridge at the start of the second period sealed the bonus-point which Ross Stewart’s men needed to seal their place in National One for next season and his side moved further ahead in this contest as Louis Rawlings dotted down.
Tom Grimes reduced Cambridge’s lead with Blaydon’s fourth try of the afternoon but Matt Hema’s converted score on 67 minutes gave the Blood and Sand a 40-31 advantage.
However, Blaydon showed spirit and character to turn this game on its head as Frazer Wilson and skipper Keith Laughlin both crossed to seal an unlikely, but precious win for Mickey Ward’s side.
National League 1 2017/18 - Points Table
National League 1 2016/17 - Leading Points-Scorers
National League 1 2016/17 - Leading Try-Scorers