Bishop's Stortford and Leicester Lions survive while Rotherham complete centenary year as champions

In their first season in National One, Leicester Lions survived relegation
©Gareth Lyons

Taunton and Cinderford were the two who suffered relegation from National One. Billingham and Hull Ionians beat the drop in National Two with Wimbledon unable to secure their place at level four.

National One

Bishop's Stortford (11th) secured a key 27-22 win at Cinderford (14th) to avoid the drop from National One, but the defeat for the hosts confirmed their relegation.

On a fascinating final day, Stortford flew out of the blocks as a penalty try was swiftly followed by scores from Harrison Langworthy, Jake Morris and Will Rogers.

But Cinderford hauled themselves back into the contest either side of the break. Sam Smith and George Porter dotted down, and despite having Jack Shields sent off, the home side continued their revival.

Connor Lloyd had pinged over a penalty for Stortford but a second for Smith and a try from Max Knight cut the deficit to five points with just over 10 minutes to go.

However, Cinderford couldn't complete a remarkable turnaround meaning they dropped out of the third tier for the first time in six years while Stortford survived.

With Stortford safe, who would join them?

Taunton Titans did what they needed to do as they secured an excellent 47-32 win at Blackheath (8th). This meant they needed relegation rivals Leicester Lions to slip up against Sale FC (10th).

However, it was the Lions who sealed their safety as Joe Patrick's try three minutes from time clinched a 23-14 victory for Gareth Collins' troops. The result confirmed Taunton's relegation.

Elsewhere, champions Chinnor survived a second-half red card to claim a 42-40 triumph over Darlington Mowden Park (7th) and a blistering opening quarter from Birmingham Moseley (5th) helped them defeat Rams (2nd) 39-31.

A dramatic finish at Brickfields ended with Connor Eastgate snatching a 33-28 win for Plymouth Albion (4th) against Rosslyn Park (3rd) and six second-half tries saw Richmond (6th) surge to a 50-18 win over Sedgley Park (9th).

National Two - Decision Day

There was a title to be won in National Two North.

Rotherham Titans knew victory over Billingham would see them promoted to National One and the equation remained the same for Gareth Lewis' side throughout the afternoon.

After an edgy start, rivals Leeds Tykes blasted their way to a 42-14 lead against third-placed Sheffield but despite the visitors mounting a fightback, Pete Seabourne's charges saw out a 47-42 bonus-point success.

It meant there was no wiggle room for Rotherham. Approaching half-time, the Titans were level at 19-19 with Billingham but the league leaders then took it up a notch.

Tries from Laurence Cowen and Jack Taylor - plus eight points from the boot of Lloyd Hayes - saw them surge clear to ultimately seal a 40-26 victory and the National Two North title.

But it wasn't just Rotherham who were celebrating in the North-East. Billingham knew one point from this contest would be enough to ensure their survival and Dan Dixon's 77th-minute try clinched that all-important bonus point for Peter Evans' side.

But could Hull Ionians also remain in National Two?

The I's knew they had to beat bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield to give themselves a shot at safety, and Joe Makin's men wasted no time at all at Brantingham Park.

Four tries in the opening 15 minutes set the tone before 10 further scores led to a thumping 94-26 victory, with full-back Lewis Minikin scoring a remarkable 49 points.

Hull Ionians' maximum meant National Two East's Wimbledon needed to secure two points from their final day meeting with Dorking (3rd) to avoid the drop. Achieve this, and they would be safe and Hull Ionians would be relegated.

Following the demise of Jersey Reds from the Championship, this had a consequential impact on relegation from National Two.

  • The clubs in 14th position in the three National Two leagues were relegated to level 5. In this case, Huddersfield (Nat2n), North Walsham (Nat2e) and Dudley Kingwinsford (Nat2w) were already down.
  • The playing records of the three clubs in 13th position in the three National Two leagues were compared. The club with the best playing record remained in National Two and the other two were relegated to level five.

With Newport (Salop) already down from National Two West, it was between Hull Ionians and Wimbledon for the final safety spot but the Dons could only manage a losing bonus point from their 26-19 defeat at Dorking.

It meant Hull Ionians and Wimbledon finished on the same number of points (44), and the same number of wins and draws. The deciding factor was then 'points difference' which favoured the I's. The finest of margins.

Headlines From The Final Day

In National Two North, Wharfdale (4th), Tynedale (6th) and Sheffield Tigers (7th) ended positive campaigns with victories over Lymm (10th), Preston Grasshoppers (11th) and Fylde (5th) respectively while Hull (8th) edged out Otley (9th) 37-36 at Chanterlands Avenue.

In National Two East, Barnes confirmed second place with a 26-24 victory over champions Esher whilst there were also wins for Henley Hawks (4th), Canterbury (7th), Old Albanian (8th) and Westcombe Park (9th). Elsewhere, Worthing (12th) ran in 11 tries to defeat North Walsham (14th) 71-19.

And in National Two West, league winners Dings Crusaders capped a memorable season in style as they hammered Camborne (6th) 109-0 with Jake Holcombe, Soloman Taufa, George Boulton and Ezra Craven all scoring hat-tricks.

Luctonians (2nd) ended an extremely strong and positive campaign with a 64-5 triumph over Dudley Kingswinford (14th), Bournville (10th) achieved their most successful National League Rugby season with a last-gasp 28-27 win against Hinckley (7th) and despite relegation, Newport (Salop) concluded 2023/24 on a high with a determined 26-24 victory against Clifton (3rd).

Old Redcliffians (4th) completed the term with a 10th successive home victory over Redruth (9th) 43-24 whilst there were also wins for Exeter University (5th) and Loughborough Students (8th) against Chester (11th) and Hornets (12th) respectively.

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