Last Saturday our team made the long 181-mile trip to Alnwick to face a side who are newly promoted to the division and they gave us a very tough game, as they did at the Ferens Ground on October 27th. We only led 5-3 at the break but Alnwick were always unable to control the power of our pack, conceding three yellow cards and a penalty try. We won the game by 26-8 and our tries were scored by Joe Stafford, Cameron Curry and Harvey Harding with Simon Humberstone landing two conversions. This was our nineteenth consecutive victory of the season and one of our hardest games.
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 70. 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.
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 appearances 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 6 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.