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How the league is looking with six games to play

Hull RUFC continued their winning ways last Saturday with a very hard-earned 26-8 victory at Alnwick to record their 19th consecutive win of the season. Back on October 27th at the Ferens Ground Alnwick gave Hull their toughest game of the season up to that point. Although they lost 29-13 they gave Hull a very hard game and it was expected that they would do the same on their own ground. It proved to be the situation as they restricted Hull to a 5-3 half-time lead, their defence being of a very high standard throughout. Unfortunately their pack could not cope with the strength of the Hull forwards as three yellow cards and a penalty try were conceded. The Hull eight took total control in the second period and most of the game was played in the Alnwick half of the field as Hull scored two more converted tries to add to the penalty try. On a day when the Hull backs were denied their usual fluency by some dogged Alnwick defending the forwards took over and showed that they can win the hard way when required. Hull’s tries came from Joe Stafford, Cameron Curry and Harvey Harding with Simon Humberstone landing the two conversions. A late try to the Alnwick side came very late in the game, on what was probably their first visit of the half to the Hull 20 metre zone, which was some consolation for their spirited display.
Elsewhere in the division third-placed Blaydon kept in touch in their see-saw battle with Billingham for the second place with a comprehensive home defeat of Rossendale by 61-10 with the visitors a shadow of the side they have been in the two previous seasons. This result, although increasing Blaydon’s point scoring difference, was to no avail as Billingham had a 43-19 win at bottom of the table Wilmslow to retain their second place.
Fourth in the table Harrogate had a good 42-24 win at Kirkby Lonsdale and still have a good chance of a play-off spot. It was a very tight game at Ilkley where the Dalesmen had to give second best to visitors Wirral who took an early 10-0 lead but then had to resist a strong come-back by Ilkley with the final score being a nail-biting 16-15 win to Wirral.
Sandal travelled to Kendal where the relegation-threatened home side pushed them all the way before losing 36-29. Kendal picked up two bonus points in this game but the side above them, Lymm, picked up five from a 33-24 win at Vale of Lune to put them seven points clear of the Cumbrians.
The positions at both ends of the table remain unchanged with Hull now on 93 points, Billingham on 74, Blaydon on 71 and Harrogate on 20. At the bottom Wilmslow have only 10 points, Vale of Lune have 25, Kendal are on 28 and Lymm have 35.
Every club in the division have now played 20 of their 26 games but for the clubs in the top four and the bottom four these remaining games will be highly important in deciding their immediate future. Every game could be looked upon as a cup final such is the importance of them.
Joe Stafford
Congratulations are offered to our very popular Number 8 and club vice-captain Joe Stafford who set up a new club record of 45 consecutive appearance in the game at Alnwick and duly celebrated with a vital try which gave us the half-time lead in the game. He beats the previous record of 44 held by prop forward Kris Fullman which was set up seven years ago. The fact that both players are forwards is a tremendous tribute to their strength and fitness. Well done Joe, you are indeed a ‘Man of Steel’ and may your new record be extended.
Final six matches
With six games remaining Hull are now on 93 points and can achieve a maximum of 123 points. Billingham have 74 points and can achieve a maximum of 104. Blaydon have 71 points and can achieve a maximum of 101 while Harrogate have 70 points and can achieve a maximum of 100. Therefore, barring any possible deduction of points, Hull need 12 more points to give them 105 points and to clinch the championship. We have four home games in the run-in with Ilkley, Lymm, Sandal and Rossendale the visitors in between away games at Harrogate and Billingham.
After the play-off game v Peterborough last season Director of Rugby Gary Pearce said, “Next season we will finish top”. His words look very likely to have been proven true.
Norman Angell

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