I must start this week by offering congratulations from all at Hull RUFC to Caldy RFC who last Saturday clinched promotion back to National Division One after being relegated last season. Caldy have done the job in fine style, have won all of their twenty-five games this season and they have done it with five games to spare just for good measure. I am sure that we all wish them well next season.
Our side travelled to fourth-placed Sedgley Park eager to avenge the 27-24 defeat at the Ferens Ground on November 16th but it was not to be as we again lost by three points in a 13-10 reversal. For long periods of the game Hull looked the better side, especially in the first half which was played mostly in the home 22 but we were unable to capitalise on our dominance. We led 3-0 until the last minute of the half when a short period of pressure saw Sedge score a converted try. Two penalty goals made it 13-3 before scrum half Michael Goodwin scored his first try for the club when he shot over from close range following a strong forward drive. Simon Humberstone converted to add to his earlier penalty and in the last minute of the game we nearly snatched a win when Lee Birch finished off a cross-field move with a touch-down in the right corner which was disallowed for a forward pass. So near, and yet so far, from a famous win.
Elsewhere in the division Fylde consolidated their second spot in the table with a very good 48-10 victory over visitors Luctonians, scoring seven tries to the single Lucs effort. Fylde led 24-5 at the break and in front of 750 fans they doubled their score in the second period for a handsome win. Huddersfield gave visitors Hinckley a very tough game at Lockwood Park and were leading 10-7 at the break but the Midlands side took control in the second half to run out 24-15 winners, scoring three tries to two.
Sheffield Tigers broke their long sequence of defeats when they won a very tense and evenly contested game at Otley by 32-29after leading 19-17 at half-time. Surprisingly, Otley scored four tries to the Tigers two but could only convert two of them and they reckoned without Sheffs ace kicker Mark Ireland, who not only converted James Broadley’s two tries, but also landed six penalty goals, justly winning the man of the match award. Otley fully deserved their two bonus points in this game and are now just five points behind Huddersfield and six points behind Luctonians in the relegation battle to avoid the third drop place.
As expected, Preston Grasshoppers were no match for visitors Caldy who improved a 20-0 interval lead by running out easy winners by 49-5, scoring seven tries in the process. The ‘Hoppers have now lost their last six games and are 23 points behind fourth from bottom Huddersfield and with a maximum of 25 points available to them they can realistically be deemed to be relegated. Luckless Scunthorpe entertained Loughborough Students and once again suffered a very heavy defeat by 54-7 after trailing 40-0 at the break. The Students scored eight tries and converted seven of them during this game.
Tynedale v Stourbridge proved to be a very entertaining and closely-contested fixture during which Tyne scored four tries and Stour five in a 29-27 away victory for the Midlanders, who trailed 22-12 at half-time. Former Tynedale winger Dan Rundle scored two tries against his old club including the match-winning try in the 79th minute. This brought his tally for the season to 30 and he is the leading try-scorer in the division at the moment. Finally, the Wharfedale v Chester game proved to be a close and tense affair for both sets of supporters at The Avenue where the Cheshire side scored three tries to one in a hard-fought away win over the gritty Dalesmen who led 11-7 at the break. The final score stayed unchanged for the last 18 minuteand at one period in the game the Chester pack held the ball for a staggering 38 phases.
As in the previous week there is no change in the three places at the top and bottom of the table with Fylde looking slight favourites for the play-off spot at the top. They are only five points above Hinckley but 12 points above Sedge who have possibly missed the bus for this season.
This week was designated a blank day in the N2N calendar but with recent cancellations due to bad weather it is now a ‘catch-up’ week with five fixture being played. We begin with Scunthorpe v Chester which is a 16th v 7th game and should only go one way which is an away win. Chester will be full of confidence after their away win at Wharfe last week and should take this one as a canter. In stark contrast and in what could well be the game of the day, 4th meet 5th when Sedge host the Students in what should be a cracking game at Park Lane. Sedge had a bruising game v Hull last week while the Students had an easy day at Scunthorpe but they will need a five pointer to overtake the home side and I think there will not be much in it at the end.
Huddersfield v Tyne could be a good chance for Hudds to get something out of this fixture and ease their relegation problems. Tyne won the corresponding game by 33-18 in November but I fancy that the home side will just edge this one with the vociferous Lockwood Park faithful behind them. A real relegation-avoiding scrap is in prospect at Cross Green when Otley take on Lucs in a vital game for both sides. Otley will not be wanting to slip to the fifth level of English rugby for the first time in their history but they have now lost their last seven games while the men from Luctonia have upset the odds a few times this season and this may be another.
The last game sees an 11th v 6th clash when Wharfe take on Stour and I think that the Dalesmen may suffer a second consecutive home defeat in this one after the hard time they had against Chester last week. Stour have done enough to ensure their status for next season whilst Wharfe have yet to feel safe. Can they give their chances a boost this weekend?
My choice of game to watch on Saturday are Sedge v Students, Otley v Lucs and Hudds v Tyne.
I might drop down three divisions to watch Beverley v Old Crossleyans in Yorkshire One. Or maybe Wales v Scotland if the weather is bad!!
Wherever you are enjoy your rugby.