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How the league is shaping up after nine games

Last Saturday our side travelled to Dore Moor to take on fourth-placed Sheffield Tigers and in a game in which defences were well on top they were beaten 12-9, with all the points coming from penalty goals The home side took a 6-0 lead at the break with two penalties from Mark Ireland but Hull hit back in the second period to take the lead with three penalties from Simon Humberstone. Ireland levelled the scores and in the final kick of the game landed a fine 45-metre penalty to win the game for his side. The kick actually chipped the cross-bar on its downward flight and Hull had to be satisfied with a losing bonus point.
Elsewhere in the table, the match of the day was at Caldy where the unbeaten home side league leaders hosted the league leaders Fylde and after a very hard-fought game they took the points with a 25-18 victory after leading 17-10 at the break. Hinckley had a 27-17 home win over Preston Grasshoppers which leap-frogged them above their visitors in the league table. Both sides scored three tries but while ‘Hoppers could only land one conversion Joe Wilson converted all three for Hinckley and also landed two penalties.
Loughborough Students had a very good 23-18 home win in a close game against Sedgley Park after leading 15-13 at the break. Sedge scored three tries to the Students two but could only convert one of them whilst Owen Waters converted two and also kicked three penalties. After playing at Hull on October 26th, Luctonians took on another side from the White Rose county where they raced into a 15-3 interval lead only to be beaten 20-15 by visitors Otley in what was described as atrocious conditions.
Stourbridge proved far too strong for Wharfedale in a game which was highlighted by a hat-trick of tries for Stour winger Dan Roundle, which went a long way to help his side to a 43-19 win after leading 28-14 at half-time. Stour scored a further three tries whilst Wharfe touched down three times. In a game which also saw a hat-trick of tries from winger Guy Pike, Tynedale were worthy winners over a plucky Huddersfield side who scored three times but could only convert one of them. Tyne scored five and converted four and fully deserved their win.
The final game between Chester and Scunthorpe was cancelled due to the untimely death of Scunthorpe first team player James Walker. I am sure that we all send our sincere condolence to the Walker family and also to Scunthorpe RUFC. The match will be on the first free week-end of the season.
The outcome of all these results is that there just one change in the top three where Sheffield Tigers replace Sedgley Park in third position behind Fylde and Caldy with Sedge slipping to fourth. In the nether regions there is no change with Huddersfield, Luctonians and Scunthorpe in positions 14, 15 and 16, while Hull have moved one point clear of Huddersfield in 13th position.
This week’s fixtures have their usual selection of bankers, close games and tight games according to league placings. League leaders Fylde entertain Loughborough Students who will be keen to build on their win over Sedgley Park last week and this could be a very good game. Third from bottom Huddersfield are at home to sixth placed Stourbridge and Stour could prove to have the edge in this one, while eighth placed Otley will take into consideration Hull’s 12-9 result at high-flying Sheff Tigers last week. Hull will be keen to stop their six-match run without a win which has seen them lose narrowly in some of those games and they badly need a win.
‘Hoppers v Chester sees 11th play 12th and it will be a very tight game with home advantage maybe proving the difference and the same can be said at Wharfedale where the 10th placed side entertain ninth place Hinckley. Could we see an away win here or will Wharfedale’s vociferous home crowd make a difference? Scunthorpe v Caldy looks an away banker in my book as the home side are yet to win a game and the visitors are yet to lose one. Caldy to win by plenty. Tynedale against Sheffield Tigers should be a humdinger where fifth takes on third. Tyne are good at home but the Tigers are in good form as well and anything could happen here.
Finally, Sedgley Park v Luctonians where 4th host 15th should see a home win for Sedge but not by many as Lucs have only lost by less than double points in four of their five away games so far.
My three games to watch today are Fylde v Students, Tyne v Tigers and ‘Hoppers v Chester. Wherever you are, enjoy your rugby.
Norman Angell.

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