National Leagues serve up pulsating action

Sedgley Park celebrate a dramatic comeback against Otley to keep their promotion ambitions on track in National Two North
©Glenn Hutton

In the second reserve weekend of the season, the attention was all on sides fighting relegation, but with some stand-out results and performances in all three National Leagues, there was drama across the board.

In National One, Loughborough Students left it late to clinch a vital win over relegation rivals Blaydon while there was no shortage of talking points in National Two North.

At the top, Macclesfield continued their charge for the title while second placed Sedgley Park produced a remarkable comeback against Otley to keep their promotion ambitions on track.

The Luctonians’ sensational turnaround in form was maintained away at Harrogate while Tynedale scored a late penalty against Chester to pick up a much needed win in their battle against the drop. Elsewhere, Sale FC and South Leicester couldn’t be separated in Manchester as both sides firmly remain in a relegation dogfight.

In National Two South, the Old Albanian are still in a race for the title after an excellent win over Redruth while Taunton Titans heaped more misery on Launceston.

National One

Blaydon 26-27 Loughborough Students

Loughborough Students edged a dramatic and pulsating National One encounter as winger Rotimi Segun scored a late try to clinch victory against Blaydon.

The visitors have now won back to back games moving them 11 points clear of the relegation zone and ahead of Blaydon in the table.

Segun and Matthew MacPherson went over for the away side’s tries with Nathan Horsfall replying for Blaydon who went into the break 7-15 behind.

Jason Smithson and Matthew Rogerson exchanged tries after half-time before Smithson completed his hat-trick with two quick fire scores to give Blaydon a 26-22 lead with nine minutes remaining.

However, Students had the last say as Segun was set free by Blair Hutchinson and the winger made no mistake as he sealed a crucial win for Loughborough.

National Two North

Preston Grasshoppers 16-38 Macclesfield

Macclesfield stretched their unbeaten run to six matches as they maintained their 18 point lead at the top of National Two North after this win over Preston Grasshoppers.

Tries from Harrison Lewis, Jordan Brooks, Elliot Brierley and Ryan Parkinson secured the bonus-point for the visitors before half-time after two Lewis Allen penalties for Preston.

Harrison Moulding and Peter Altham both went over for the hosts to make it 16-24 just after the hour mark.

Greg Newton and Matthew King both dotted down to pull Macc clear and ultimately seal the win for the league leaders who continue to edge closer to the title.

Sedgley Park 27-26 Otley

Sedgley Park scored three tries in the final seven minutes to move back to second in the table after an enthralling game against Otley which saw the hosts recover from 18 points down.

James Wood and Jack Scott-Paul crossed in the first half for the away side with Jack Warrington responding for Sedge to make it 8-12 at the break.

Matthew Heaton and Henry Roberts then clinched the bonus-point for Otley to move them into an 8-26 lead which they carried into the final 10 minutes of this game at Park Lane.

And with the points seemingly going back to Yorkshire, Sedge decided to spark into life beginning with Matthew Riley going over on 74 minutes.

The Tigers were roaring back into the contest and when Matthew Lamprey broke the Otley line to touch down two minutes after Riley’s try, the impossible comeback seemed well and truly on.

And the remarkable fightback was complete on 79 minutes as replacement Samuel Lowthion took advantage of quick ball by Sedge to score the match winning try and send out a message to the rest of the promotion hopefuls that they  are still very much in the fight for a shot at National One.

Harrogate 24-26 Luctonians

The Luctonians’ remarkable run of form continued at the weekend as they made it eight wins from their last 11 matches with victory over Harrogate at Ruddling Lane.

A penalty from Louis Silver and tries from Geraint Langdon and Josh Watkins gave the Lucts a narrow 7-13 lead at half-time with Lewis Minikin going over for the hosts.

Harrogate then took the lead a minute after the restart as Luke Edwards touched down before Minkin landed a penalty to stretch the Yorkshire sides’ advantage.

The Lucts then showed the resilience which has seen them go from 15th in the table to 10th since the end of 2015 as Jordan Street and John Kelly both crossed to put the visitors back in front with seven minutes remaining.

Willem Enslin touched down for ‘Gate two minutes later, but the side from Herefordshire held out to move four points clear of the relegation zone.

Chester 22-23 Tynedale

Robert Parker’s late penalty secured Tynedale a much needed win in their fight against relegation in a superb game against Chester at Hare Lane.

Tries from Oliver Walker and Parker, along with a penalty from the fly-half, gave the visitors a 5-17 lead, before Chester retaliated through a Sean Green try.

Parker’s penalty on 50 minutes looked to be enough for Tyne, but scores from Liam Gill and David Ford saw Chester fightback from a 12 point deficit to lead this contest with 16 minutes to go.

But the north-east side are now three points clear of the drop zone after Parker’s intervention before the end.

Sale FC 17-17 South Leicester

Sale FC let a 14-point lead slip as South Leicester fought back for a draw in an entertaining game at Heywood Road.

The home team led17-3 after 50 minutes thanks to tries from Adam Aigbokhae and Jake Pope with seven points coming via the boot of Liam McGovern.

But South Leicester hit back with Calum Gunn’s try before Gareth Turner’s score levelled things up with a quarter of the game still remaining.

McGovern had a chance to give Sale the lead late on but his kick was off target as both sides had to settle for two points.

Both teams won’t have been overly happy with the draw as they continue to dig themselves out of trouble. Sale remain in the bottom three and two points behind South; who occupy the final safety spot in the division.

National Two South

Redruth 18-29 Old Albanian

The Old Albanian are now six points behind league leaders Cambridge after victory over a strong Redruth side away from home.

The visitors led 8-17 at half-time thanks to tries from James Spiers and James Shanahan with seven points coming from the boot of Chris May. Bradley Howe’s score and a penalty from Roger Brett-Rule was Redruth’s response in the opening 40.

William Johnson’s try increased the OA’s half-time advantage before Redruth cut their visitors’ lead to six points when Robert Coote dived over and Brett-Rule landed his second penalty of the afternoon.

But Lloyd Brickle secured the victory and the bonus-point for the away side six minutes from the end keeping the Old Albanian in the title race with six games remaining in the season. The OA’s are also now 13 points inside the promotion places.

Taunton Titians 76-5 Launceston

Taunton Titans went back to fourth in the National Two South table after they thrashed the already relegated Launceston at Hyde Park.

The Titans were out of sight at half-time, Nicholas Mason scoring two tries with Jonathan Gartford, Alec Chase, Matthew Tichias and James Fleming all crossing for the hosts.

A try from Benjamin Hilton gave something for Launceston to cheer about just before the break, but it got worse for the away side in the second period.

Mason completed a fine hat-trick and went on to score twice more while Freddie Fraser also bagged himself a brace with Stuart Percy putting the icing on the cake for the Titians with their 12th try of the day two minutes from the end.