National League Two North Review - Round 15

Stourbridge edge a win at the death against Chester
Stourbridge edge a win at the death against Chester
©Huw Jenkins

At the midpoint of the season, it is starting to become clearer that it is now just Hull Ionians and Ampthill who will be the sides battling it out for promotion and the title in National Two North. Below them, the teams are fighting for the other places in the top four whilst the bottom half continues to be tight. 

Huddersfield 14-29 Hull Ionians 

The league leaders are on a nine game winning streak and look certain to be top of tree at Christmas after this win over Huddersfield. The I’s managed to claim a late bonus point from this ill-tempered Yorkshire derby. Huddersfield put in a valiant effort against the Ionians who didn’t look their ruthless selves during the 80 minutes. Nevertheless, Hull Ionians stay top whilst Huddersfield’s recent form sees them with one win in just six matches as they sit tenth. The league leaders are involved in the Hull derby on Saturday as Huddersfield go to Harrogate for another Yorkshire encounter. 

Broadstreet 33-52 Ampthill and District

Ampthill and District stay three points behind Hull Ionians with this win over an in-form Broadstreet side and they have fly-half Joesph Tarrent to thank as he scored 27 points, Joseph Bercis who touched down three times and loosehead prop Joseph Sproston managing a brace. It was a game which was end to end and Broadstreet showed why they have rapidly climbed the table as they had a lot of the game in Coventry. Ampthill have now won their last five games whilst Broadstreet are now 11th after a good few weeks. Ampthill are away to Leicester Lions as Broadstreet host Birmingham and Solihull this weekend.

Coaches View Ampthill Head Coach Paul Turner: "I thought Joe played very well , although for me, hooker Alexander Bloisi stood out. It wasn't a perfect performance but with the enforced changes I was pleased with the result given the quality of Broadstreet's play. The effort from all the players, especially those who stepped in at the last minute, couldn't be faulted."

Stourbridge 28-23 Chester

Third placed Chester were edged out by Stourbridge in the final play of the game through a tap penalty which resulted in a try through Mark George. It was a very even contest, with Stour’s lineout and breakdown play coming under pressure and Chester forcing several turnovers which resulted in a flowing, evenly matched game. The scores were level for long periods of the game, but the hosts snatched a bonus-point victory. Chester are 17 points behind Ampthill and from third down to seventh, there is just six points in it. Storubridge remain in eighth but have lost just once in their last five games and that is a good record considering the injuries which they have had. Chester host fourth placed Caldy this weekend with Stour going away to out of form Luctonians.

Caldy 10-0 Preston Grasshoppers

Fourth placed Caldy maintained their 100 per cent home record in a poor game of rugby which was littered with penalties. Caldy were always in control though as Preston just couldn’t get a grip on the game. Caldy now sit two points behind Chester with one defeat in their last six matches. Preston are now 13th having won just once in their last five. Chester are Caldy’s next opponents whilst Preston host Otley.

Coaches View Caldy Head Coach Simon Verbickas: “It certainly wasn’t pretty to watch but it was another win which sets us up for next week’s derby encounter with Chester.

Luctonians 29-34 Harrogate 

This wasn’t as straight forward as Harrogate would have liked as the Luctonains showed a different side to them as they fought hard for the win and were good value for their two bonus points. However it was Harrogate’s Sam Bottomly who was playing his 150th game for the club who inspired his side to the win. Harrogate have now lost just once in their last seven matches and are level on points with Caldy in fifth. Luctonians continued their losing streak, but picked up two vital bonus points as they stay 15th. Harrogate host Huddersfield in their final match before Christmas as the Luctonians welcome Stourbridge to Mortimer Park. 

Otley 39-10 Sedgley Park

The score suggests Otley control the match and that is exactly what happened. Sedge never really got going and were on the end of a seven try demolition which is a blow to their top four aspirations. Otley showed more aggressions and desire in this one and deserved their win with Jack Mackie proving pivotal in Otley’s win. Sedgley know they have the quality and will come back strong in the second half of the season. Otley remain sixth and Sedge seventh. Otley go to Preston on Saturday whilst Sedgley host bottom side Stockport. 

Sedgley Park’s DoR Steve Hazzelby stated after the game "We never turned up all game. We were second best in every department as we conspired to put more pressure on ourselves with penalty after penalty. Otley were very good value today and deserved the win. Our focus must now be on next week’s game against Stockport"

Leicester Lions 55-0 Stockport

Leicester Lions ended their three match losing streak in style as they ran in nine tries to beat an injury hit Stockport 55-0. The Lions led 29-0 at half-time with Jack Spittle, Kane Nixon, Robert Young and Jonathan Boden going over before the hosts were also awarded a penalty try. Stockport had to take off Jonny Edwards and David Hopkins due to injury during the first half meaning a change of shape for the visitors. Callum Baldwin also picked up an injury, but was able to continue and fight through the pain for the full 80 minutes.  Ben Marsland was added to the injury list after the break, as Leicester continued to be ruthless going forward. Devon Constant, Luke Veebel and two tries from debutant Ben Brownlie added to the home side’s advantage. Leicester moved up to ninth with the win whilst Stockport are still yet to win on the road all season and have one win to their name this year. Leicester welcome Ampthill to Westleigh Park on Saturday as Stockport take the short trip to Sedgley. 

Coaches View Stockport Coach Matthew Bebbington: “The reality is we have got a small squad. We had three players pull out due to injuries in the week and we had four injuries today and I think we have 13 first team players out.

“I don’t think our slow start set the tone. It was the four quick injuries we had in the first half which means you have players slightly playing out of position.

“I think the biggest thing is some of the 12 or 13 injuries we have got now, are short term injuries. We have five players back from long term injuries after Christmas, so it would just be nice to have a full squad to choose from. If you have a full squad, there is more competition which means training is better and it has an edge to it which hopefully we can take into games on a Saturday.”

Hull 12-22 Birmingham and Solihull

It was another happy return to Humberside for Birmingham and Solihull as they got a vital win despite not being as clinical as they would have liked to be. The Bees have played well in recent weeks and this was just reward for that and to win away made it even sweeter for the visitors. Birmingham and Solihull nearly let Hull back into it towards the end with two yellow cards, but held out for a fourth away win of the season. The Bees sit 12th with Hull in 14th. Birmingham go to Broadstreet on Saturday with the chance to go above them with a win whilst Hull have a tough job away at Hull Ionians. 

National League Rugby