National Two North provides excellent entertainment over the Easter weekend

Sedge v Sandal
Sedgley Park ran in 13 tries at home against Sandal who have now dropped into the bottom three
©Glenn Hutton

With just four games in the National Leagues taking place over the Easter period and all coming in National Two North, many may have thought action and drama would be limited.

However, that simply wasn’t the case.

The league leaders Macclesfield left it late to snatch a win at Otley while second placed Sedgley Park ran riot against a hapless Sandal side at Park Lane.

At the other end of the table, South Leicester secured a vital win over Preston Grasshoppers while Huddersfield’s dim hopes of survival were kept alive with a victory over the Luctonians.

Otley 26-27 Macclesfield

Macclesfield edged a dramatic and pulsating National Two North clash as winger Rhodri Mayor scored a last-minute try to snatch the win for the league leaders.

The visitors have now won their last eight matches and lead the division by 17 points with six games of the season left to play.

Ryan Parkinson, Max Smith and Samuel Moss went over for Macc’s tries with Thomas O’Donnell replying for Otley before the break as Giles Heagerty’s men went into half-time with a 5-17 lead.

Elliot Millar-Mills secured the bonus point for the away side eight minutes into the second-half before Otley turned the game on its head.

Parkinson was yellow-card for Macclesfield and that opened the door for Otley to mount a comeback and they did just that.

A brace from centre Jack Mackie and a score from Freddie Watson saw the hosts reverse a 17 point deficit inside 12 minutes to lead this encounter 26-22.

The home side then held that advantage for the final 15 minutes of the game before Mayor stole victory for Macclesfield with a try in the last play of the match.

Sedgley Park 83-17 Sandal

Sedgley Park tightened their grip on the play-off place in National Two North with an emphatic victory over Sandal at Park Lane.

Dean Schofield’s side secured the bonus point by half-time thanks to tries from Andrew Riley, Matthew Riley, Thomas Bedlow, Samuel Lowthion and Callum McShane. Sandal’s response was a Mark Pease score and five points from the boot of Greg Wood.

Lowithon went over again for Sedge after the break before James Ellar dotted down Sandal’s second try of the afternoon, but that was good as it got for the Yorkshire side as the hosts continued to run riot.

Matthew Riley got his second of the day before Andrew Riley completed his hat-trick. Jamie Harrison followed with a brace and was backed up by Paul Urmston and Benjamin Black who rounded off the win.

Matthew Riley converted nine of Sedgley’s 13 tries as the Tigers moved eight points clear of their promotion rivals with a game in hand.

As for Sandal, their miserable run carries on as they have now lost 10 of their last 11 matches and have dropped into the bottom three for the first time this season.

South Leicester 19-0 Preston Grasshoppers

South Leicester moved out of the relegation zone after a crucial victory over Preston Grasshoppers at Welford Road.

Wesley Cope gave South a 5-0 half-time lead after touching down after a catch and drive as the home side used their power up front to batter down the Preston defence.

The hosts were playing the windy conditions well, but it was their big pack that set-up the platform for their second try after the break as Chris Gibbs sniped his way across the line after South had forced over a 5m scrum over.

Gibbs was then involved in the final try of the game as he began a quick counter attack for South which ended with Gareth Kerr darting over in the corner to seal a vital win.

South Leicester are now four points clear of the bottom three after this victory and are actually only four points behind Preston Grasshoppers who sit eighth in the division who have won one win of their last five games.

Huddersfield 37-32 Luctonians

Huddersfield kept their faint survival bid alive with a thrilling win against the Luctonians at Lockwood Park.

The hosts found themselves 10-27 down at half-time as Alex Smith, Josh Watkins and Joseph White all crossed for the Lucts and they were also awarded a Penalty Try in the first period.

An Austen Thompson try and five points via the boot of Chris Bell was all ‘Field could muster up in the opening 40 minutes.

However, a hat-trick of tries from Alex Battye, Lewis Workman and Adam Malthouse as well as a penalty from Bell, saw Huddersfield turn this game around in15 second-half minutes to lead 30-27.

Mike Cheasley was then yellow-carded for the Luctonians and Huddersfield took full advantage of their extra man as Gavin Rhodes crossed with nine minutes left to play.

Then tempers began to boil over as Malthouse along with Lewis Bradley and Daniel Grainger were all sin-binned for ‘Field while Dale Garner was also yellow-carded for the Luctonians meaning the final few minutes of this match was played with 12 v 13 players on the pitch.

Watkins dotted down late on for the Lucts, but it wasn’t enough as bottom of the table Huddersfield secured their first win in 11 matches.

Huddersfield still have a mountain to climb and it does look very likely that they will drop down to National Three. That win leaves them 18 points off safety with five games left to play and they know a defeat against league leaders Macclesfield this coming  Saturday could end their spell in this division.

As for the Luctonians, their incredible run of 10 wins in 13 matches took a blow on Saturday, but they do remain seven points clear of the drop zone with a game in hand.

National League Rugby