The seriousness of how Hull RUFC viewed their important away fixture with Luctonians was shown when the team travelled down to Leominster on the Friday evening, so as not to have a long and tiring journey on the day of the game. The plan was fully justified as they came home with a well-earned win following a hard and tense game which they won by 17-10 after leading 10-7 at the break. The windy conditions played a big part in the game and it was noticeable the tactical boot of Simon Humberstone outshone that of the home kicker which went a long way in deciding the outcome of the game. Hull’s tries came from Rob Watts and Lee Birch with Humberstone landing a penalty and both conversions. The strength of the Hull pack was particularly effective in the second half whilst playing into the wind, when the ball retention for long periods denied Luctonians the use of the ball. It was a very happy group of players who returned northwards with four very vital league points, bringing their total to 53, moving them up to ninth spot in the table.
Elsewhere in the division Caldy’s unbeaten run was stretched to 21 games when they defeated third-placed visitors SedgleyPark by 32-11, far more than they might have expected at half-time when the score was only 8-8. Caldy scored threemore tries in the second period whilst Sedge could only add a penalty goal to their total. This win gives Caldy 100 league points for the season which I am sure we all congratulate them on. Second-placed Fylde travelled to Chester and turned a 17-8 interval lead into a 51-15 rout as they ran in eight tries to Chester’s two in front of a very large crowd for this division of 670.
Loughborough Students shook off their defeat at Hull the previous week when the beat visitors Otley in a very high-scoring game by 47-33. The Students scored seven tries, six of which were converted and the Yorkshiremen scored five with three converted. The half-time score was 21-21 and it must have been an exciting game to watch with the score at 33-33 before the Students scored two late converted tries in the final seven minutes to clinch the game. The Sheffield Tigers tale of woe in 2020 continued as they lost 27-10 at home to Huddersfield in a Yorkshire derby. The men from Lockwood Park scored four tries as the Tigers went down to their fourth consecutive defeat and the fifth in six games this year.
Struggling Preston Grasshoppers travelled down to Stourbridge and found the home side in fine form as they beat the ‘Hoppers by 52-12. Stour had the try bonus point in the bag by half-time as they led 26-0 and scored the same amount in the second half as they ran in eight tries and six conversions. Star man was Dan Rundle who scored a hat-trick to take his total to 27 for the season making him the division’s leading try-scorer. In a closely contested battle of the Dales game up at Tynedale the home side went down to Wharfedaleby 34-28 with both sides securing the try bonus point. 550 supporters watched this very entertaining game which saw the ‘Green Machine’ post their fifth consecutive win.
Finally, bottom side Scunthorpe entertained fourth-placed Hinckley and the result went as expected with a 47-5 win for the Midlanders who scored tries and six conversions.Hinckley had the bonus point in the bag by the 26th minute and are now only two points behind Sedge in the table, although Sedge have a game in hand.
This weekend’s fixtures bring up more that their usual share of interesting games if only because of the closeness in league positions. Three of the matches are between clubs who are within one place of each other and two more between clubs who are with two places of each other.
We begin with what must be the match of the day where second placed Fylde entertain the league leaders Caldy. In the corresponding game at Paton Field on November 2nd Caldywon by 25-18 but Fylde have had some good wins recentlyand will fancy their chances to spring a surprise, but it is likely that the Caldy steam-roller will trundle on with another win. Huddersfield v Tynedale sees 12th play 7th and Hudds will be cock-a-hoop after their away win at Dore Moor last week and could easily upset the Tyne apple cart.
Hull v Sheffield Tigers sees 9th v 10th at the Ferens Ground and Hull will be confident but not complacent after their last two wins v Loughborough and Lucs. The Tigers poor form must end sometime but I don’t think (hope!) it will be this weekend. Otley v Luctonians sees 14th take on 13th and the Yorkshiremen will take heart from their fine display at Loughborough last week and they will be keen not to get rooted in the bottom three at this stage of the season.
Preston Grasshoppers take on the powerful Hinckley side at Lightfoot Green and I think that most pundits will be tipping a solid away win with Hinckley hot on the heels of Sedge in the table. ‘Hoppers’ badly need a win having only picked up a single draw in the last five game and have only eight games remaining to put things right. As they are fifteen points behind Otley in the bottom three they may have left it too late by now. Bottom side Scunthorpe are at home to Chester and although Chester have fell away somewhat in recent games I expect them to have too much power for Scunthorpe to contend with.
Sedgley Park v the Students sees 3rd play 5th and it is a hard game to predict other than to say it could be a very good game of rugby if the conditions allow. Sedge still have a chance of finishing second and it will help their cause greatly if they can win this fixture. Last but by no means least is the clash at Wharfedale where the home side take on Stourbridge in an 8thv 6th encounter. This game has all the makings of a thriller with both sides showing good form recently and Wharfe are always a hard nut to crack at their Threshfield ground.
My three picks of the day are Fylde v Caldy, Sedge v Loughborough and Wharfe v Stour.
Wherever you are enjoy your rugby.