On December 21st Hull RUFC travelled to Tynemouth RFC to take on a side they had beaten 36-29 at the Ferens Ground on September 14th. They duly recorded their first double of the season with a very close 16-12 win which took them up to eighth in the table on 39 points. Tyne led 12-10 at the break thanks to two tries, one of which was converted whilst Tom O’Donnell scored Hull’s try which was converted by Simon Humberstone to add to the penalty he had earlier kicked. Two further penalty goals were enough to secure the points for Hull and such was their dominance in the second half that Tyne rarely threatened the Hull line. Indeed, in the final quarter of the game the home side were penned in their own 22 as Hull’s impressive defence in their opponents half played a big part in the final victory.
Elsewhere in the table Sheffield Tigers were far too strong for visitors Scunthorpe who were well beaten by 56-14 by a side which scored eight converted tries after surprisingly been held to 14-14 at the break. The Tigers goal-kicker Mark Ireland had a 100% kicking record in this game to take his points total for the season to 182. In an enthralling contest at Wharfedalevisitors Sedgley Park led 24-10 at half-time and looked on course for a big win. They made it 29-10 shortly afterwards but then an amazing fight back by the Dalesmen led to a final score of 36-39 with Sedge hanging on to their three point winning margin for the final few minutes.
In a Lancashire local derby Preston Grasshoppers were unable to stop their run of defeats when they entertained second-placed Fylde who led 21-3 at the break and finally won by 28-3. The ‘Hoppers have now gone eight matches without a win with only a 0-0 draw v Otley to show for it. 786 spectators saw an error-ridden display by the home side who rarely offered any threat to the Fylde defence. League leaders Caldytravelled Chester and the home side found them in merciless mood as they ran in seven tries in a 53-12 victory after leading 25-5 at half-time.
In the Midlands local derby at Hinckley the home side trailed Loughborough Students by 6-5 at the break and were still behind 9-8 in the 73rd minute. Full-back Joe Wilson then took a hand to score a try which he also converted to make it 16-9 to the home side who then had to deny a spirited comeback by the Students who laid siege on the Hinckley quarter for the remainder of the game. In the Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield the Lockwood Park men found the Otley half-backs in fine form as their side ran in three first half tries to lead 21-3 at half-time. It was more even in the second period with neither side gaining any advantage and Otley took the points with a final score of 27-15.
Finally, Luctonians handed arch-rivals Stourbridge their fifth consecutive defeat when they defeated their hosts by 14-10 in what the Stour press officer described as ‘a war of attrition’. Both sides scored two tries but the Lucs ones were both converted. It was not a match to be remembered but the Lucstravelling supporters will have been delighted as they made their way back to Leominster with four valuable points.
All these results have made absolutely no change in the top or bottom three positions in the table. Caldy are leading the pack with 71 points with Fylde in second place on 63 whilst Sedgley Park are third on 59. In the nether regions Huddersfield are 14th on 28 points ahead of ‘Hoppers who are on 21 with bottom side Scunthorpe on just 6 and still without a win.
The fixtures for Saturday’s games in Round 17 bring up some interesting clashes and we start with leaders Caldy at home to 4th placed Sheffield Tigers. The Tigers gave Caldy a big fright a few weeks ago when they held them to 12-9 at Dore Moor but the men from the Wirral are in devastating form this season and will not want to lose their first game of the season at home. Second placed Fylde are at home to 12th placed Wharfedale and although Wharfe gave Sedge a great game last week I think Fylde will take this one.
Hull v Stourbridge sees 8th v 11th, which on paper should see a home win with Hull having won their last five games and Stour having lost their last five. Hull also won at Stour by 19-4 on September 21st and will be eager to post their second double of the season. Loughborough Students are at home to Chester in a 5th v 7th clash and with both sides losing last time out anything could happen here.
Luctonians v Hinckley sees 13th v 6th and this could be very close with both sides posting narrow wins last time out and it could be well worth watching. Lucs will be on a high after their win at Stour but Hinckley are a much different proposition. Otley v Tynedale has the makings of a cracking game where 10th take on 9th but Tyne are on a four match losing run and will find the Yorkshiremen a tough nut to crack. In a bottom of the table clash at Scunthorpe, Preston Grasshoppers have a great chance to halt their eight match winless run. Scunthorpe are already doomed, barring miracles, and if the ‘Hoppers lose this one they could be strong candidates to join them.
In the last game of the round 14th placed Huddersfield travel to take on 3rd placed Sedgley Park and there should really be only one result to this game. However, Hudds are desperate for points and will give a good account of themselves although I think a win for them is unlikely.
My three games to watch this week are Caldy v Sheff Tigers; Otley v Tynedale and Lucs v Hinckley.
A very happy and prosperous 2020 to everyone and wherever you are, enjoy your rugby.