Title in touching distance for Macclesfield

Caldy v Leicester Lions
Caldy dented Leicester Lions' hopes of a top two finish with victory at Paton Field
©Derek Salisbury

League leaders Macclesfield left it late to pick up a bonus-point win against Huddersfield on the weekend, and they now know the title and promotion could only be one more win away.

Their lead at the top is currently 17 points and with their next fixture being against second placed Sedgley Park, Macc could secure the title with a bonus-point win from their trip to Park Lane this coming weekend.

Sedge will have other ideas though. They know the chase is almost up for the title, but in recent weeks, they have shown their class to tighten their grip on the play-off spot which looks certain to be theirs after victory over Sale FC and Leicester Lions’ defeat to Caldy. 

Stourbridge may still think they have a chance of that third spot after a convincing win over a Chester side that is in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle.

Speaking of the bottom three, Huddersfield are still not officially down while Broadstreet have given themselves a glimmer of hope after victory over Sandal. South Leicester and Tynedale also both secured good results to distance themselves further away from the trap door.

Macclesfield 22-10 Huddersfield

Matthew King scored a late try to secure Macclesfield a bonus-point win at Priory Park as they stayed 17 points clear at the top of National Two North, while Huddersfield are all but relegated.

Macc were 12-0 to the good at half-time after King bundled over his first try of the game before Elliot Brierley dotted down to stretch the league leaders’ advantage.

Brierley then added his second, eight minutes after the break before former Stockport man Elliot Fletcher touched down for Huddersfield’s first points of the afternoon.

Replacement Charlie Venebles was sin-binned just after the hour for Macc and Fletcher capitalised on the extra man as the winger doubled his tally to make it 17-10.

But, Huddersfield were denied a losing bonus point when King crossed a minute from the end to seal all five points for Macc while the division’s bottom club now know a defeat to Caldy this coming weekend would relegate them to National Three.

Sale FC 15-30 Sedgley Park

Sedgley Park secured their fourth win in a row as they beat Sale FC at Heywood Road to leave the hosts just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Daniel Waddy’s try put Sedge ahead before Liam McGovern reduced the deficit with a penalty to make it 3-7 after the first quarter of this encounter.

However, a red-card to Sale full-back Ciaran Conolly changed the face of this game and the away side took advantage of the extra man as the afternoon wore on.

Andrew Riley crossed for Sedge’s second try before McGovern once again replied from the tee as the visitors went into the break with a 6-12 lead.

Matthew Lamprey’s try extended Sedge’s lead, but McGovern landed three more penalties to give his side hope heading into the final 10 minutes.

But, two penalties from Matthew Riley and try from Juan Crous sealed the win for Sedgley who are now looking very good to finish in the play-off spot this season.

Stourbridge 35-17 Chester

James Rodley scored two tries as Stourbridge moved up to third in National Two North thanks to this bonus-point win over Chester.

The Number 8 plunged over either side of an Ashley Elvers score in a second half dominated by the hosts.

The visitors, who are now in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle, began this contest well as Craig Ross and Callum Bennett both touched down to give Chester a surprise 0-12 lead at half-time.

But, scores from Joseph Bridger and Joshua Trinham levelled things up before the hour and from there, Stour never looked back as the brace from Rodley and the score from Elvers settled proceedings.

William Bown scored a consolation try for Chester in the final play of the game, but his side now must be concerned as they are currently just six points clear of the drop zone.

Caldy 22-14 Leicester Lions

Caldy moved level on points with Leicester Lions after they secured victory over the Midlands side at Paton Field.

Fifth place Caldy, who have now won three of their last four games, went ahead on 19 minutes as Benjamin Eaves crossed before both sides were reduced to 14 men.

Forbes Edwards and Jonathan Boden were yellow-carded, but neither team were able to get points on the board in their absence.

When both teams returned to their full complement of players, Richard Vasey stretched Caldy’s lead as he slotted over a penalty.

But, the Lions hit back as a try from Josheph Collingham cut the deficit to just a point heading into the break.

Vasey then landed two penalties after the interval and was backed up by a try from full-back Andrew Soutar to leave Caldy with a 12 point lead heading into the final quarter of this contest.

Once again Leicester responded,  this time through a Luke Veebel try which Boden converted on 72 minutes, but Vasey’s fourth penalty of the afternoon was enough to seal the win for Caldy and all but end Leicester’s hopes of a second placed finish.

Tynedale 50-17 Otley

Tynedale’s surge away from the bottom three continued on Saturday after an impressive win over Otley in the north-east.

The scores were level at 17-17 at half-time as tries from Matthew Charters and Benjamin Haigh along with a penalty from Robert Parker were cancelled out by Otley’s Declan Dunn, Jack Scott-Paul and Benjamin Steele who all crossed for the visitors.

But after the break, it was the home side that took control of this open encounter as they ran in five tries to secure their third successive win to leave Scott Lawson’s men 10 points clear of the relegation places.

James Clark, Nicholas Cairns, Oliver Walker, Benjamin Bell and Jamie Blamire were the scorers for Tyne who are going through a purple patch of form at just the right time.

Preston Grasshoppers 12-6 Harrogate

Preston Grasshoppers produced a superb defensive display to claim victory over Harrogate at Lightfoot Green.

Sean Taylor kicked all of Preston’s points only after his side found themselves 0-10 down and 14 men down.

Lewis Minikin had landed two penalties to give Harrogate and early lead and it looked like they would go on to control this game when Preston centre Peter Altham was red-carded for an apparent punch.

But rather than rolling over, the Hoppers seemed fired up and grinded out a gutsy win thanks to some valiant defensive work as they frustrated their visitors to secure a well-deserved victory.

South Leicester 22-22 Luctonians

South Leicester battled back from 22-7 down to secure a vital draw against the Luctonians as the hosts continue to fight for their National Two North survival.

Owen Davies and Chris Gibbs exchanged tries just after the 20 minute mark before scores from winger Joseph Doyle and centre William Burton put the visitors in control.

A penalty from John Morris extended Lucts’ lead before South hit back.

Tries from Callum Gunn and Joseph Heath made it 17-22 with 12 minutes remaining before Gunn levelled the scores with his second try of the day in the final play of the game.

South had the chance to win it with the last kick but the conversion was unsuccessful.

The home side are now seven points clear of the drop after two draws and a win from their last four games while the Luctonians now have a nine point cushion between themselves and the bottom three.

Broadstreet 19-8 Sandal

Broadstreet kept their slim survival chances alive as they beat a Sandal side that have now lost 11 of their last 12 matches.

The hosts were 12-3 ahead at the break thanks to tries from Pierre Ferre and Andrew Murray despite Liam Hills being yellow-card. Sandal’s only points of the first period came via the boot of Greg Wood.

The visitors got the first points on the board after the restart as Mark Pease darted over to reduce Broadstreet’s lead to just five points, but they couldn’t cut the deficit further.

The hosts managed to control the rest of this game and they sealed the win when Murray crossed for his second of the day on 74 minutes.

This victory now leaves Broadstreet eight points from safety with four games left to play, while Sandal stay in the bottom three and they remain just two points behind Sale FC – who occupy that final safety spot in the division.

National League Rugby