Last week Hull travelled to Otley for a Yorkshire derby match and after giving a very good display were rather unlucky to lose by 27-23, gaining a losing bonus point which was scant reward for the effort they put in. Hull have now gone seven games without a win and only one draw to partially break the sequence. Despite this, they have not been getting heavily beaten and surprisingly they have only conceded 183 points, while eleven sides in the table have conceded more than that total. The tries just have not been coming and the fact that they have lost the services of two of last season’s quick- fire back division does not help the situation. A win is long overdue, will it come this week when the third-placed Sedgley Park Tigers visit the Ferens Ground?
Elsewhere in the division the competitiveness of the sides in National Two North again showed itself when we saw several very close games and only one resulting in a heavy defeat. Two of those were decided by only one point and two others by five and four points.
After their narrow home win against Hull last week which was won by a last minute penalty goal, Sheffield Tigers were on the receiving end of a similar finish. They were leading 19-17 away to Tynedale with only two minutes to play Tyne scored a converted try to steal the game by 24-19 to end what had been a very close game. Even then the Tigers had a chance to win the game when from the restart Tyne were penalised but Mark Ireland could not repeat his effort of the previous week. Wharfedale had to be at their best to beat a tough Hinckley side who came back well after trailing 19- 7 at the break, but they fell just short as Wharfe held out for a 24-19 victory, roared on by a good crowd of 397 on a very wet day.
The big hammering of the day fell to bottom side Scunthorpe, who conceded ten tries, nine of which were converted, against visitors Caldy who were in rampant mood. Caldy led 35-0 at the break and went on to win by 68-7. Preston Grasshoppers entertained Chester and might have expected a close game but they were outclassed as Chester ran in five tries to win the game by 27-10 after leading 15- 10 at the break.
In a very high-scoring match at Sedgley Park the Tigers raced into a 26-10 half-time lead but Luctonians belied their lowly league placing to roar back in fine style to win a thrilling game by 40-34 to gain two valuable bonus points. The Tigers scored six tries to the Lucs five and will have been glad to hear the final whistle blow. League leaders Fylde were far too strong for visitors Loughborough Students who trailed 21-0 at the break, but the Students tightened up a little in the second half before losing 33-7.
Finally in a proper nail-biter Huddersfield won only their second game of the season at Lockwood Park when they defeated Stourbridge by 32-31, scoring five tries to the visitors four, one of which was a penalty try.
After the dust had all settled on these results (if dust can settle on a rainy day!) Fylde and Caldy hold the top two spots in the table, while the Sedge win over Lucs puts them back in third place, with Sheff Tigers slipping back to fifth. At the other end Scunthorpe are beginning to look a bit isolated on five points, well behind Lucs on 14 and Hull on 17.
This week-end’s fixtures show up some games which at a glance could go either way judging by the relative league placings of the respective clubs. Caldy at home to Preston Grasshoppers looks like a shoe-in for the home side but the Chester v Wharfedale clash sees 11th play 8th is a game either side
could take the points in. Another such game is Hinckley v Huddersfield where 10 take on 12 . Hudds
have just ended a losing streak but they will have to be at their best to post a win at Hinckley who can be tough on their own ground.
Loughborough Students entertain Scunthorpe and it is hard to see anything else but a decisive win for the Students in this one. Luctonians v Fylde falls into the same bracket, although Lucs will be fired up after their great showing at Sedgley Park but I think the money is on Fylde this time.
A Yorkshire derby at Dore Moor sees Otley visit the mountain retreat of Sheff Tigers in a game between 5th and 9th and the Tigers should win a close game here. Finally, a 6th v 4th clash sees Stourbridge at home to Tynedale in what could be the best game of the day.
My three selections for match of the day are Stourbridge v Tynedale, Sheffield Tigers v Otley and Hinckley v Huddersfield.
Enjoy your rugby wherever you are. Norman Angell.