What a prospect we have at Roundstone Lane this weekend when Worthing Raiders and Dorking go head-to-head in a huge relegation battle in National Two South.
As things stand, Worthing are a place above and three points clear of Dorking who currently occupy the final relegation spot in National Two South. Worthing know a win for them this Saturday would secure their place in this division for another year and relegate Dorking. But, a win for Dorking would mean the fight for survival would go down to the last weekend of the season.
Mathematically, eight teams are still not safe from the drop in National Two South but realistically the focus is on two teams who know a defeat on the weekend could be very costly.
We should not forget about the title race either. Cambridge and the Old Albanian remain separated by five points heading into this penultimate weekend of the season and with both sides facing tough away trips this Saturday, there is no room for error at this late stage of the campaign.
Bury St Edmunds v Cambridge
Bury St Edmunds’s top six chances are still very much on the cards thanks to some great form in recent weeks. Currently, they sit just three points behind Chinnor in what has been a brilliant season for the Suffolk side after gaining promotion into this division last season. They had been down at the wrong end of the table for the majority of this campaign, but now they look set to have a real crack at a sixth place finish.
If they were unable to achieve this aim, they will certainly not be disheartened with their performances this term. Currently, Bury have won five of their last seven games which has seen them surge up the table and they will be in a confident mood this Saturday despite the visit of league leaders Cambridge.
Cambridge’s fight for the National Two South crown is very much in their own hands. The Blood and Sand could easily have cracked under the pressure of being top of the table as they know they can’t afford to slip-up with the Old Albanian breathing down their necks. But, Rowland Winter’s men remain top of the pile with only two games remaining.
Currently, his side are on a 12 match unbeaten run which is exactly the sort of form you want to be in at this stage of the season. Winter will simply be hoping that Cambridge can pick up two more wins from their remaining fixtures, but that is easier said than done. With five points the gap at the top, there really is no margin for error when Cambridge make the trip to Suffolk on Saturday.
Barnes v Old Albanian
Barnes must be pleased with their season. Following promotion via the National Three South play-off last term, they have performed above expectations this campaign thanks to some good spells of form and their never say die attitude. Due to this, they are now aiming for a top half finish which would be a great achievement for the side from South West London.
With just one win in their last seven National Two South matches, it appears as though Barnes may have taken their foot off the pedal slightly in the knowledge that they are more or less safe from relegation. Before that run, they were unbeaten in six matches and the side know that just three points this weekend from this fixture will confirm their place in the fourth tier of English rugby for another year.
The Old Albanian have performed very well this season and they still remain firmly in this title race. The OA’s can’t finish any lower than the second place they currently occupy in the table and realise they need Cambridge to slip-up between now and the end of the month if they are to go up to National One automatically.
A comfortable 46-20 win over the Old Elthamians last time out showed that the OA’s are determined to keep applying the pressure on Cambridge and having won seven straight games heading into this contest, they will be in buoyant mood as they look to take this title race right down to the wire.
Southend Saxons v Bishops Stortford
Southend Saxons have already been relegated to National Three this season. Having stayed in this division by the skin of their teeth on the final day of the last campaign, Southend were unable to improve on that result and their fate was sealed last weekend after an away defeat to Cambridge.
With just two wins in their last 15 games, it appears as though Southend have known for a while that it was an uphill battle to stay in this division. With that form in mind, it’s hard to see them winning this difficult fixture against a strong Bishops Stortford side.
In contrast, Bishops Stortford have performed strongly yet again this term. Stortford managed to reach the play-off last season and this campaign they’ve been fought hard to repeat that success, but a slow start to the year cost them that chance.
They now can only finish as high as third in the table and following five straight wins, Stortford are looking strong to stay in the top three for the conclusion of this season. They have won seven of their 14 away games this season and are firm favourites to claim their eighth and final victory on the road for this season when they travel to Warners Bridge Park on Saturday.
Launceston v Redruth
Like Southend Saxons, Launceston are also already relegated. However, it has been a much tougher season for the Cornish side. They enter the penultimate week of the campaign without a win to their name this term having lost 27 of their 28 matches this year.
After finishing 10th last season, this really has been disappointing for Launceston who have accumulated just 10 points all term. The highlight of their season has been the draw with Southend Saxons and with a rampant Redruth side heading to Polson Bridge this weekend, it looks as though more misery will be heaped on Launceston.
Redruth are a side that have really impressed this term following their ninth place finish last year. The men from the Recreation Ground have enjoyed a magnificent campaign in National Two South and sit in fourth place, although a top four finish is yet to be confirmed as they sit six points clear of fifth placed Taunton Titians.
You many not earn anything for finishing fourth, but Redruth thoroughly deserve to be in that positon. Their victory at home to Barnes last Saturday brought up 100 points for them this season and was their 12th win from their last 14 league matches. They are expected to continue this superb run of form on Saturday.
Clifton v Taunton Titians
Clifton have unfortunately regressed to where they were last year as this season as gone on. After a superb start to the season where they lost just one of their first eight games, the South Gloucestershire side have declined throughout the campaign and they currently occupy the position in which they finish last season – 12th.
Following those first eight games, Clifton have won just five of the last 20 matches and are now in danger of been dragged into a relegation scrap. They do sit six points clear of the drop so a bonus point win from this game would confirm their safety in National Two South for another year. However, they must end a three game losing streak to achieve that.
Taunton Titians were tipped to challenge for promotion this season and although they’ve been in the mix for the majority of the campaign, the Titians’ aims of a shot at National One ended a few weeks ago following a wretched run of form.
Despite the clear quality Taunton have in their side, they have lost five of their last eight National Two South matches with three straight defeats to Chinnor, Cambridge and Redruth perhaps been the key moments in this poor run. They do travel to Gloucestershire having won back to back games though so they will be confident of adding to that on Saturday.
Redingensians v Chinnor
Since narrowly losing 22-20 to Worthing Raiders at the end of January, the Redingensians really have been on fine form. The Rams went on a seven game winning streak which lifted them away from relegation in National Two South to a comfortable top half position. They have lost their last two games, but just two defeats in nine matches is exactly the type of form you need to avoid the drop.
The Rams will be delighted in the way in which they have been able to turn their fortunes around and they currently they sit 11th and are nine points clear of the relegation zone. Just two points from this local derby against Chinnor on Saturday will see them deservedly secure their place in National Two South for another year.
The same remarkable revival has also been achieved by Chinnor. After finishing sixth last season, hopes may have been high for Chinnor to build from that, but after a dismal start to the campaign, that looked like it would not be achieved.
They had won just four of their first 18 matches, but they now come into this clash with near neighbours having won eight of their last 10 games and now they occupy sixth place once again. It has been some turnaround for Chinnor and they will be keen to continue this form in the final two games of the campaign.
Old Elthamians v Canterbury
The Old Elthamians’ season has been another solid one. Having being promotion two years ago, the OE’s are looking to match their eighth place finish of last year, but that maybe out of their reach if they are unable to turnaround their recent form which has seen them lose their grip on a comfortable top half spot.
After a five game unbeaten run to begin the New Year, it appeared as though it was nailed on for the OE’s to finish in the top eight, until they suffered a heavy defeat at home to the Redingensians. After a narrow win over Southend, the OE’s now welcome Canterbury to Queen Mary’s on the back of six straight defeats so they will want to halt that form before the season comes to an end.
Canterbury have had another mixed season in National Two South. For the majority of the campaign, the City Men have managed to keep their heads above water in the relegation battle and after a victory over Clifton last weekend, they are all but safe in this division as they look set to the end the season in mid-table.
Currently, Canterbury sit ninth in the table and are eight points clear of the drop so three points away from home this weekend would be enough to guarantee them their survival. In addition to this, a bonus-point win could see them climb above the Old Elthamians, who sit eighth in the table, and go to as high as sixth if other results go their way.
Worthing Raiders v Dorking
Worthing Raiders’ mini turnaround in form looked as though it would’ve been enough to distance themselves from the relegation battle in National Two South. However, four defeats from their last five games has dragged them right back into the dogfight and they now sit just three points clear of the drop zone.
Prior to their latest defeat against Taunton Titians, the Raiders had picked up a crucial win over relegation rivals Canterbury. The home side will now be hoping for a similar performance in this vital game in the fight for survival otherwise their time in National Two South could be over.
It has been a crazy 12 months for Dorking. After challenging for promotion last term, I don’t think anyone expected them to be fighting for their National Two South lives this season. The club have struggled towards the bottom half of the table all campaign and currently they sit in the relegation zone desperate for a win this weekend.
The equation is simple for Dorking. They must win or even draw to not be relegated on Saturday from National Two South as any defeat will see them fall into National Three. Dorking come into this game having won two of their last three games so they make the trip to Roundstone Lane full of confidence. This really is a must win game for both sides.