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How National 2 North looks ahead of this weekend’s matches

Last Saturday Hull RUFC stretched their winning run to four games when they defeated Otley at the Ferens Ground by 20-14 after a very tough game which saw Otley push their hosts all the way. Hull led 7-6 at the break after recovering from being 6-0 down when Mike Adlard scored a converted try but Otley hit back with a try to make it 11-7.  Two penalty goals from Simon Humberstone made it 13-11 and they made the game safe when Steve Johnson crashed over for a converted try. Otley managed to kick a last-minute penalty goal to secure the losing bonus point which was well deserved.

Elsewhere in the table Caldy made it 24 wins unbeaten when they swamped visitors Scunthorpe to the tune of 103-0 after building up a half-time lead of 54-0. The league leaders ran in 17 tries nine of which were converted in what was a very one-sided game which is to be expected when top meets bottom. Chester got back to winning ways with a 27-14 home win over Preston Grasshoppers which included a try bonus point. The ‘Hoppers made a good fist of it in the first half as they only trailed 12-11 at the break after leading 11-0, but they are now in a precarious position as they are fifteen points behind Otley in the bottom three with only six games remaining.

Hinckley posted a 17-7 home win over visitors Wharfedale who pushed them all the way and were only denied a losing bonus point when Hinckley landed a last-minute goal.  Having said that Wharfe scored their only try in the 75th minute to make the score 14-7.  In a rugby feast at Loughborough where nine tries were scored the Students kept up their home hoodoo over visitors Fylde when they posted a narrow 32-30 victory after leading 20-13 at the break. Fylde had only won once in nine visits and they came so close to winning their second game.  The Students scored five tries to Fylde’s four in a highly entertaining game.

Luctonians did their chances of league survival a power of good when they defeated fourth-placed Sedgley Park by 22-13 at Leominster after trailing 13-17 at the interval. They gave a dominant display during the second period and scored three tries to Sedge’s one in a well-deserved victory after a very good and hard game. Finally, Stourbridge and Huddersfield fought out a 14-14 draw in which both sides scored two converted tries, all before three-quarter time, leaving both sets of supporters with a final nail-biting 20 minutes of play.

The Sheffield Tigers v Tynedale fixture was postponed as all of the pitches at Dore Moor were waterlogged and the game will be played on Saturday April 11th.

None of these games resulted in any changes in the top or bottom three places. Fourth placed Sedge are slowly losing their play-off prospects and are now 11 points behind second placed Fylde, Hull have moved up to sixth spot in the table but have played one more game than Stour and Chester who could both overtake them with wins in their outstanding games.  At the bottom Otley are now on 44 points, behind Hudds and SheffTigers who are both on 52 points.

This week’s fixture list brings up some bankers, a few slight favourites and a couple of either ways.

We begin with Fylde v Luctonians which should see Fylde consolidate their second place against 11th placed Lucs, but Lucshave a habit of winning unlikely games and could provide Fylde with a tough game. I still fancy Lucs to avoid the drop but it will be difficult for them on Saturday. Hudds v Hinckley sees 13thplay 3rd and I think the visitors will add to their nine match winning run, but Hudds need the points at the bottom and may spring a surprise.

Otley v Sheffield Tigers sees 14th play 12th in a Yorkshire derby match where anything could happen when both sides are on a long losing run. Maybe home advantage will be the decider.  ‘Hoppers v Caldy is an away banker and the home side will do well to keep the score to a respectable total, but a big away win is in the offing.

Scunthorpe v the Students is a similar affair where an away banker is almost a certainty. The Humbersiders are playing for pride now and face another heavy defeat. Sedge v Hull could prove to be a cracker and few would bet against Hull taking the spoils here.  However, they face a very tough game to do so as Sedge have only been beaten at home twice this season, but Hull will remember the corresponding game at the Ferens Ground on November 16th when they held Sedge to a 27-24 away win. The following week Hull won at Fylde!  This is an either way game in my opinion.

The same can be said for Tyne v Stour where 9th take on 7th and a good game is in prospect here which I think will just go the way of Stour, although they will be aware of the tough home game they had last week in the 14-14 draw with Hudds.  Finally, Wharfe v Chester is a game which I think the fanatical home support the Dalesmen have will, in this 10th v 8th clash, provide the impetus for the Greens to take the points.

My three games to watch are Sedge v Hull, Tyne v Stour and Otley v Sheff Tigers.

Wherever you are enjoy your rugby.

Norman Angell.

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