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Norman Angell’s comprehensive league round-up

On a day when the wheels came off the chariot big-time at Murrayfield, life in the Northern Premier Division went on as usual in another ‘catch-up weekend’ as Hull RUFC made the long trip to Lymm bent on revenge for the 28-19 defeat they inflicted upon us last September.
After a very good and tight game our boys did the business to post a 20-13 win to put ourselves back into third position and put Lymm back to fourth.
Hull’s tries came from Joe Stafford and Zak Poole with Steve Johnson converting both and adding a penalty late on in the game.
After the win at Billingham three weeks ago this was a real statement of intent from the side. Well done to you all.
Close rivals and second-placed Harrogate had a terrific Yorkshire derby when they visited Sandal, who had done so well against us the previous weekend.
Both sides scored five tries each in a keenly-fought battle but the honours went to ‘Gate who won 39-31, thanks to Luke White whose 14 points from the boot made the big difference.
Rossendale had a very big home win over Wirral by 43-0 to record their biggest win of the season but it must be said that Wirral have now gone very much off the boil having lost six of their last seven games including four on the bounce.
Finally, luckless Pocklington might have expected a rare home win at the expense of Kirkby Lonsdale but could only manage a losing bonus point as the Cumbrians posted a 17-10 win to ease their own relegation fears.
All of this means that ‘Hoppers are top of the table with 91 points from 20 games followed by Harrogate who have 76 points from 20 games.
Hull are third with 74 points from 19 games and in scoring differences ‘Gate have plus 179 while Hull have 295. Both sides have 14 bonus points.
There is no change at the bottom end with Morley on 22, Birkenhead Park on 18 and Pock on 13. Morley are 16 points adrift of Sandal who have a game in hand.
This week’s games bring up some very interesting clashes starting with Billingham v Kendal where fifth pay eighth. I cannot see anything here but a home win as Billingham will revel on their artificial pitch. If it were at Kendal it might be a lot different. Harrogate v Pocklington should be a home banker with the home side on a tremendous roll winning seven and drawing one of their last eight games.
Lymm v Rossendale should be a cracker when fourth play sixth and Lymm will be smarting after their defeat at our hands last week. I think that home advantage might just swing it in Lymm’s way, but I hope I am wrong!!
Morley v Kirkby Lonsdale could go either way. Both sides have heavy pitches and a Morley mud-bath is on the cards with the packs dominating proceedings.
‘Hoppers v Ilkley should be a home win but Ilkley could run them close. Like Billingham, ‘Hoppers will make full use of their artificial pitch and have too much pace for the Dalesmen.
Sandal v Birkenhead Park should see Sandal widen the gap on the bottom three. It is eleventh taking on thirteenth but Sandal have a 20 league point lead over them and should maintain their recent improved form to make it even more.
Finally, Wirral v Hull where seventh play third. Hull are on a winning roll having won four and drawn one of their last five games compared to Wirral’s record mentioned above. Wirral can sometimes be difficult to beat at home and their 20-14 home win over Lymm on January 14th means they are no pushover.
Hull have beaten Billingham and Lymm in their last two away games and will be full of confidence, whilst giving full respect to their opponents. I expect Hull to take the honours.
I will close by wondering how many of these games will be played this weekend when The Beast from the East and Storm Emma collide!!

Norman Angell.

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