Drama at Darlington, Tykes tick along, a win for Wimbledon and excellent Exeter

Exeter University have flown out of the blocks in National Two West
©Ian Clark

We were not short of narratives in Round Three with eye-catching scorelines and brilliant drama packed into another fascinating weekend of National League Rugby.

National One

Darlington Mowden Park ended Cinderford's unbeaten start to the season in the most dramatic fashion as they snatched a 25-20 win.

Joe Winfield was presented with the chance to clinch a third victory in a row for Cinderford only for his last-minute penalty to sail wide of the posts.

However, the ball remained in play and DMP charged up the other end of the field where Josh Ree touched down to clinch a remarkable win for the North-East outfit. 

The aforementioned Ree and Winfield traded penalties in the first period before a quick-fire brace from Harry Yates helped DMP into a 20-6 lead. This lit the fuse on this encounter as Cinderford hit back via Nathan Taylor and Joe Langbridge to level the game.

Winfield then had the opportunity to secure victory from 50 metres out but his effort was off target before DMP ran the length of the field, with Ree diving over to steal an unbelievable win.

Like Cinderford, Rosslyn Park were also unable to maintain their winning start to the campaign as an Aquile Smith try four minutes from time secured a first success of the term for Birmingham Moseley as they won 24-19 at The Rock.

That result means Rams RFC are the only side in National One yet to taste defeat as they picked up a third bonus-point win on the bounce after beating Sedgley Park 41-20 in the North-West.

Blackheath are up to second in the standings after defeating fellow newly-promoted side Leicester Lions 34-3 away from home while Tom Putt's late penalty clinched a 24-21 victory for Plymouth Albion over Bishop's Stortford.

Elsewhere, Sale FC's difficult start to the season continued as a dazzling second-half display from Chinnor saw them surge to a 36-0 triumph at Kingsey Road while Richmond opened their account for the term after departing Taunton Titans with a 29-14 win.

National Two North

Leeds Tykes maintained their perfect start to the season as Charlie Venables scored a double to help them to a 49-34 away win at Hull Ionians.

Venables scored one of his two efforts in a back-and-forth first period which ended with Hull Ionians holding a six-point lead.

Nathan Hill's brace and a score from Lewis Minikin - as well as 12 points from the boot of the centre - had the I's in front, with Tom Williams and Will Hardwick also going over for Leeds.

Sam Pocklington extended Hull Ionians' advantage but the Tykes were able to turn things around and pull clear in the final quarter with Ben Dixon, Venables, Nuu Nuu and Lucas Walsh all touching down. Fly-half Seremaia Turagabeci also chipped in with seven conversions.

Rotherham Titans and Fylde are the only other two clubs in the division who remain unbeaten with the Yorkshire outfit powering to a 33-10 win against Lymm whilst Fylde held off a late revival from Billingham to record a 32-26 victory at Woodlands.

There was a first success of the season for Sheffield Tigers who defeated Otley 31-24 at Cross Green while city rivals Sheffield clinched back-to-back victories as a brace from Ryan Burrows helped them to a 36-14 win against Preston Grasshoppers.

Meanwhile, Hull fly-half Reece Dean scooped up 19 points as Mike Umaga's side eased to a 49-12 triumph against Huddersfield and Robbie Collinson's try 12 minutes from time helped Wharfedale edge past Tynedale 24-22 in the North-East.

National Two East

Wimbledon recorded their first victory at this level since April 2018 as they beat fellow newly-promoted side Westcombe Park 47-41 in a match which featured 12 tries.

Three of those scores came from Dons hooker Malek Touilzak as his hat-trick helped Collin Osborne's men get off the mark for the season.

The hosts had wrapped up the bonus point in the first half, with Wimbledon leading 26-24 thanks to Touilzak's trio and Tom Bracegirdle.

Kieran Thompson (2) and Toby Wallace had gone over for Westcombe Park and the away side then edged in front following Nicholas Cook's effort.

But Wimbledon's three tries to Westcombe Park's one in the final quarter proved to be the difference as Harry Hill, Jake Cleet and Alex Keer all crossed for the home side while Keita Orelaja's converted score ensured the visitors clinched two bonus points.

At the top of the division, Dorking and Barnes both secured a third bonus-point victory on the bounce as two of the promotion hopefuls continued their solid starts to the term.

Centre Tom Howe scored a hat-trick in Dorking's 59-14 win away at North Walsham while Barnes punished two red cards shown to Worthing to clinch a 51-28 victory. The leading pair also face one another this coming weekend so something will have to give in Round Four.

Esher will be hoping to be in the title conversation with the likes of Dorking and Barnes this season, and Peter Winterbottom's side sealed their first bonus-point win in Round Three after beating Canterbury 29-21.

Elsewhere, Old Albanian made it back-to-back successes as they defeated Sevenoaks 51-16, Henley Hawks ended Bury St Edmunds' unbeaten start to the season with a 37-21 win and a blistering first-half display helped Tonbridge Juddians see off Guernsey Raiders 36-25.

National Two West

Exeter University secured an impressive 43-24 bonus-point win over Hinckley as Gareth Elliott's side maintained their 100 per start to the season.

These two teams began the day as the leading duo in National Two West, but Orson James, Zack Wimbush and Charlie McCaig all touched down for Exeter in the first half at Leicester Road. Oliver Bee and Dale Bowyer scored tries for hosts Hinckley, who trailed 17-14 at the break.

McCaig went on to grab a second for Exeter while Lucas Dorrell, Benji Joseland and Will Smears also went over for the visitors.

Tom Hughes and Sam Everett did cross for Hinckley to secure a bonus-point but they couldn't prevent their unbeaten record from coming to an end.

Exeter are joined by Luctonians at the summit of the division after they secured a 45-18 bonus-point victory over Redruth, with wingers James Wheeler and Charlie Grimes scoring two tries apiece.

Loughborough Students and Old Redcliffians opened their accounts for the season in Round Three. A hat-trick from Spanish international Mario Pichardie helped the Students to a 46-7 win over Dudley Kingswinford while Old Reds edged past Bournville 22-18 at Scotland Lane.

Meanwhile, Clifton eventually capitalised on Camborne's indiscipline as they came from 14 points down to clinch a 39-31 victory at Station Road, Charlie Carter and Courtney Harris both scored twice as Hornets beat Newport (Salop) 55-12 while James Hampson's drop-goal proved to be the difference as Chester defeated Dings Crusaders 17-14.

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