Rams RFC maintained their title challenge in National One in Round 18, but Richmond were able to return to the summit.
Seb Reynolds’ side did move into top spot following their excellent win over Chinnor on Friday night, but less than 24 hours later, Richmond went above Rams after thrashing Hull Ionians.
The London-based outfit are only leading the way by virtue of points difference and they are now three points clear of fellow promotion candidates Rosslyn Park after Kieran Power’s side lost to Blackheath. (It is also worth noting that Richmond take on Rams this coming weekend…!)
Down at the bottom, Birmingham Moseley edged themselves further away from danger after beating Cinderford but Rotherham’s strong showing in defeat against an in-form Cambridge keeps them alive in the battle for survival ahead of a monumental clash between Moseley and the Titans in Round 19.
Elsewhere, there were victories for Darlington Mowden Park, Plymouth Albion and Sale FC
Richmond 86-7 Hull Ionians
Richmond surged back to the summit of the National One table after thrashing Hull Ionians at the Athletic Ground.
Steve Hill’s side begun the day five points behind leaders Rams RFC, but they now find themselves back in pole position after running in 14 tries.
Skipper Cam Mitchell scored a hat-trick whilst Hamish Graham and Callum Torpey both scored two tries apiece for the rampant hosts.
Louis Lynagh, Toby Eaton, Dan Kelly, Ben Cook, Toby Saysall, James Hadfield and Myles Scott also crossed for Richmond, who are now in top spot by virtue of points difference.
Hull Ionians did actually take the lead in the capital after Lewis Minikin raced over, but following the opening 10 minutes, they were completely outclassed by Richmond.
Chinnor 17-21 Rams RFC
Rams RFC are level on points with table toppers Richmond after clinching a brilliant victory over Chinnor in a pulsating Friday night clash at Kingsey Road.
A try from hooker Ben Henderson and a brace by Tom Vooght put the Rams 21-3 ahead, but Chinnor roared back in the second period.
Jason Worrall and James Tyas both went over to cut Rams’ lead to just four points and the crowd of over 1,000 in Oxfordshire sensed a potential turnaround from the home side.
However, they were unable to add to their tally in the remaining 16 minutes despite good territory and a promising line-out position right at the death as the Rams held out to continue their superb season.
Blackheath 27-22 Rosslyn Park
Rosslyn Park’s promotion bid was dented in Round 18 as Blackheath edged an entertaining London derby at Well Hall.
With ‘Club’ trailing on the hour, Markus Burcham went over for a converted score before Mark Cooke’s penalty gave the hosts enough breathing space to see out the win.
Jake Lloyd and Ben Ransom scored for Blackheath in the first-half, with Tom Burns dotting down in the second period.
The visitors, who were ahead for stages in this contest, only managed to pick up a losing bonus-point with their touchdowns coming from Sam Twomey, Craig Holland and Billy Harding.
Park’s second defeat of the season to Blackheath now leaves them three points behind the leading duo in National One.
Darlington Mowden Park 26-19 Bishop’s Stortford
Darlington Mowden Park immediately returned to winning ways in National One following a narrow victory against Bishop’s Stortford.
The Northern Echo Arena crowd witnessed an entertaining battle between the two sides and two late penalties from Warren Seals helped the hosts over the line.
After Rob Duff’s opener, tries from Dan Elsom and James Thacker brought Stortford to within a point of DMP with half an hour still remaining.
Talite Vaioleti and Callum Mackenzie had gone over for the home side to help make it 20-19, but despite Stortford having plenty of time to work their way back into the game, they were thwarted by DMP.
Plymouth Albion 21-10 Old Elthamians
Plymouth Albion continued their positive start to 2020 after beating Old Elthamians thanks to a wonderful defensive display.
Alex Goble’s try gave the away side an early lead, but Koree Britton crashed over from close range in reply.
Connor Eastgate shortly followed his prop over the try-line as the full-back touched down before the break.
OEs signalled their intent after the restart as they tried to break down the Plymouth wall but the home side continued to stay strong with the visitors only managing an Ollie Bryant penalty.
Albion’s defence was to be rewarded as Jamie Salter dotted down in the final few minutes of the contest to seal back-to-back wins for the Devonshire outfit.
Birmingham Moseley 35-15 Cinderford
Birmingham Moseley scored three second-half tries to pick up a crucial victory as they beat Cinderford at Billesley Common.
Moseley, who began the day one place and eight points above the drop zone, led 13-3 at half-time following a score from Dan Lewis, whilst the impressive Cliffie Hodgson kicked eight points.
The hosts then took the game away from Cinderford as Tony Wortington and Louis Roach both dotted down and despite a response from Joe Mullis, Will Biggs’ bonus-point score ultimately sealed a much-needed win for Moseley.
Harry Hone did cross late on for Cinderford, but victory for the hosts means they are now 11 points clear of the relegation places.
Cambridge 25-21 Rotherham Titans
Cambridge came from behind against a spirited Rotherham Titans to secure their fourth consecutive victory.
The Blood and Sand built a 10-7 lead with tries by Matt Hema and James Martin, whilst Ben Robbins crossed for Rotherham.
Andy Henderson extended Cambridge’s advantage before the break, but quick-fire tries from Sam Boxhall and Harry Newborn put the Titans 21-15 ahead on 64 minutes.
The performance from Rotherham belied their league position but a welcome victory was to be taken away from them as Martin and Henry Peck both scored in the final 10 minutes to seal the win for the hosts.
A losing bonus-point for Rotherham now sees them 11 points from safety with a crucial game against Birmingham Moseley to come in Round 19.
Sale FC 33-14 Canterbury
Sale FC bounced back from their opening defeat of 2020 by securing their seventh home win of the National One season as they beat Canterbury.
Before the Christmas break, Jonathan Keep’s side signed off with a thumping 49-7 victory over Rotherham Titans and after battling back at the beginning of the New Year to claim a losing bonus-point away at Old Elthamians, it was business as usual for FC at the CorpAcq Stadium.
Fergus Mulchrone grabbed the opening try before Jarad Williams, Matt Bradley and Connor Doherty all touched down in a storming first half display from Sale, who led 28-0 at the break.
Jake Pope dotted down for FC in the second period and despite a response from Canterbury, the damage had been done in the first 40 as Sale maintained their record of just one defeat at home since October.
As for bottom of the table Canterbury, Alex Meads and Sam Rogers went over but the City Men are now 27 points from safety with 12 games left to play.