The grey sky, heavy with the sins of generations, pours a melancholy twilight over the wasteland. The unrelenting seas cruelly, cruelly, bites deep into the blasted foreshore of West Kirby. Figures – are they even human? – peer out from their ghastly shelter, offering a sneering greeting that could only be interpreted as a warning to turn back. The intrepid, yet nervous band knew, as they headed into the darkening west, that it could mean only one thing and one thing alone.
Hull made the long journey to the Wirral to take on the unbeaten league leaders and gave a very good account of themselves before going down by 27-17 after trailing 20-10 at the break. The quality of the result was shown by the fact that only two sides visiting Caldy this season have held them to a smaller margin of victory, Fylde by seven and Chester by eight. Caldy knew they had been given a tough game which was described in the Rugby Paper as “a superb high-octane game of rugby between two good sides”. Hull were in the lead by 10-6 after seventeen minutes but Caldy gradually took control of the scoring to lead 27-10 before Hull hit back late in the game for the final score. Charlie Beech and Mike Adlard scored Hull’s tries with Simon Humberstone landing two conversions and a penalty.
Chester had a very comfortable 36-17 home win over Otley and they secured the bonus in the first half and led 24-7 at the break. The home side ended a run of four consecutive defeats scoring six tries in the process and they will be pleased to get back to winning ways. Last week I suggested that the Hinckley v Sedgley Park game would be a cracker and for the first forty minutes it was just that with the home side leading 21-15 at the break. It was a different story in the second half however as they ran in a further 29 unanswered points to win the game by 50-15, scoring seven tries along the way to a decisive victory.
It was a tough game at Lockwood Park where Huddersfield came back from a half-time deficit of 15-12 to defeat Preston Grasshoppers by 25-15. With fifteen minutes remaining thehome side were leading by just 18-15 but a try from back-rower Bradley which was also converted deprived the plucky visitors of a losing bonus point. In what was probably the shock result of the day Luctonians were the visitors at Loughborough Students and with just five minutes remaining they were leading the Students by 12-10 after being 10-0 down earlier. A 75th minute converted try from scrum-half Silver gave them a 19-10 fine away victory, sending their supporters home to Luctonia in high spirits.
Sheffield Tigers have now lost three of their four games played in 2020 after going down by 22-17 in their Yorkshire derby home game against Wharfedale, who led 12-10 at half-time. Two tries from the Wharfe scrum-half Sam Gaudiegained him the man of the match award in a very tough encounter at Dore Moor. After Stourbridge’s 30-28 defeat at third placed Sedgley Park the previous week they had a home game against second placed Fylde and were comprehensively walloped by 64-12. Fylde led by an amazing 45-0 at the break after gaining the try bonus in just twenty minutes. A rampant Fylde side scored ten tries in the process with seven of them being converted. Full-back Connor Wilkinson took the man of the match award after scoring three tries in eighteen minutes in that first half blitz.
Finally the luckless Scunthorpe side travelled northwards to Tynedale where they were soundly beaten to the tune of 54-5.Tyne ran in eight tries, seven of which were converted and they led by 21-5 at half time. Scunthorpe are having a nightmare season and no doubt will be happy to get back to the comfort of the Midland Premier Division next season.
All these results do not affect the situation at the top of the table with Caldy, Fylde and Sedgley Park leading the way but the Students have dropped to fifth with Hinckley moving up to fourth. At the bottom, despite their great win over the Students, Lucs have dropped into the bottom three joining Preston and Scunthorpe.
This week’s fixtures indicate some close clashes starting with what could be the match of the day when 2nd placed Fylde entertain 4th placed Hinckley. Hinckley are on a five game winning streak and after their demolition of Sedgley Park last week they will fancy their chances of a win at Fylde, albeit by a much narrower margin. Fylde will be equally confident after their even bigger demolition of Stourbridge and a very good game is in prospect. Hull v Loughborough sees 11th take on 5th where the men from the Ferens Ground will remember that they only lost 22-17 in the corresponding fixture on the 25th of October and will be eager to square the account with the Students.
Luctonians v Sheffield Tigers is an interesting game with Luctonians in confident mood after their win at Loughborough last week whilst the Tigers are having a period of unsettling results in 2020 and will have to be back at their best to get a result in Leominster. 13th take on 1st when Caldyvisit Otley and there is only going to be one winner in that clash and I expect Caldy to stretch their unbeaten run to twenty games on Saturday.
Preston Grasshoppers v Tynedale could be described as a must win situation for the ‘Hoppers who are in real danger now of relegation as they are 14 points behind Lucs who are on 43. Tyne have a poor record on the road having lost their last five away games and it would be a good chance for the ‘Hoppers’ to post a much needed win. Bottom side Scunthorpe face another defeat at the hands of visitors Stourbridge, despite Stour’s heavy defeat last week.
A good game is in prospect at Sedgley Park where the 3rd placed side meet Chester who are 7th. Sedge will be smarting after their mauling at the hands of Hinckley and they are likely to be just too good for the Cheshire side. Finally, a cracking Yorkshire derby takes place at Wharfedale where the Dalesmen will be eager to make it a second derby game win on the trot when they meet Huddersfield. Only one league point separates the two sides but Hudds will remember the corresponding fixture when they lost at Lockwood Park by 40-30 on Oct 19th.
My three choices of games to watch this week-end are Fylde v Hinckley, Wharfe v Hudds and Sedge v Chester.
Wherever you are enjoy your rugby.