Regional League round-up
PLYMOUTH TITANS opened their league account and bagged a home South West Cup semi final date with North Devon Raiders after a 48-22 double header win over DEVON SHARKS at a misty Easterfield Lane, Torquay. Titans captain Jonny Platt led the way with two tries and six goals supported by two tries each from Adam McCrohan and debutant Connor Wallace-Simms along with touchdowns from Steve Hillman, Dave Betteridge and Rob Owles. The Sharks fought bravely, with tries from Dave Woodhead, Paul Cartwright, Dave Wellbeloved, Anthony Pinkerton and Ross McFarlane with Pinkerton kicking their only goal. The game was decided in a ten minute period around the half time break with Hillman scoring right on the whistle and then Platt and Betteridge stretching the Titans lead to 36-14, though a brace of Sharks tries midway through the second period kept the game interesting.
CONWY CELTS posted an emphatic 78-4 victory over WREXHAM BRADLEY RAIDERS, running in 14 tries. Sam Ryan and Matt Paddington both went over for tries within the opening four minutes. Col Weston increased that advantage to 18 points, but Dave Forward replied for the Raiders following some good ball handling on the left flank. They could not prevent the next two Celts tries however, taking them into a 30-4 lead at the break. Conwy were equally ruthless at the start of the second half, scoring through Lee Davies in the opening minute. Full back Jordan Sheridan dived over soon after and James Gregson added another two tries, to complete his treble just before the hour mark. Five further touchdowns were added in the final 15 minutes, a double to Lee Davies to seal his hat trick, the others coming from Josh Ward, Spencer Lumby, and James Gregson, who picked up his fourth.
BIRMINGHAM BULLDOGS lifted themselves off the foot of the Midlands Premier table with a hard-won victory over a resilient COVENTRY BEARS “A”. After dominating the opening minutes, Birmingham took a lead they would never lose when stand-off Sam Edgar dummied and went over to the right of the posts, adding the goal himself. Soon after came the most spectacular score of the match as the ball was shipped out to the left where winger Curtis Wellington sped down the touchline for a try in the corner to which Edgar added an excellent conversion. The Bears gained a penalty some five metres out and from the last play of the set second rower Tom Hill charged over for a try. But the Bulldogs capitalised on Coventry’s knock on at their own scrum with Edgar crossing for his second try. With the break imminent, Bears posted a timely score as right wing Mick Smith drove over, stand-off Tom Quigley gaoling to bring the score to 16-10. Bulldogs Glen Farnham dived in at the corner after a great break down the right hand side before Adam Baldock added his name to the teamsheet, moving the home side fourteen points clear but the Bears roared back, with Barry McGuffog charging in for a try. Quigley added the extras before grabbing a try of his own to cut the deficit to four points. Farnham kept the home side in front at the death, punishing Coventry’s handling error at the restart, ensuring the Bulldogs first win of the season.
LEICESTER STORM find themselves top of the table after a hard fought encounter with title favourites NORTHAMPTON DEMONS after the home side triumphed in a 24-16 in the East Midlands derby.
The 2012 Midlands 9s was won by the Paget Arms All Stars after battling to a 14-8 win over host club Coventry Dragons in the final. The All Stars were made up of students from Loughborough University.
In the Premier Division, BLACKBROOK maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a 28-10 victory away to BARROW ISLAND. In Division Two, OLDHAM ST ANNES are still without a point after they recorded a 74-0 home loss to WIGAN SPRING VIEW. And in Division Three, HINDPOOL TIGERS triumphed over the CARDISHEAD RHINOS 62-6, whilst ST HELENS WILDBOARS and HEYSHAM ATOMS fought out a 22-all draw.
Welshman Danyl Davis was the star, running in a club landmark eight tries as AYRSHIRE STORM got back to winning ways in emphatic style with a 74-6 victory at FIFE LIONS’S Harley Street. He also, unselfishly, played in Ian Kerr for a debut try while Kerr’s centre partner Craig Hobson, Ross Bryan, David Crangle and captain Tony Wright also crossed for the visitors. The hosts score came early in the second half from winger Sean Cessford, Sam Wilson adding the extras. The result secured a number of other club records for Storm, including most points scored, fewest conceded and widest margin. Also in the Central Division, EASTERHOUSE PANTHERS won 40-12 at ABERDEEN WARRIORS.
It was a high-scoring weekend in the region. In the Premier, a Dan Mole hat trick and further scores from Chris Parker, Steve Donoghue, Will Bate and Jack Watkins and four goals from Adam Houston saw GATESHEAD STORM take the spoils and move into second spot, winning 36-14 at local rivals WALLSEND EAGLES. In a game marred by a nasty injury to Storm back rower James Hall which resulted in the game being delayed for almost 40 minutes awaiting medical attention, both sides competed well. There were two tries for Eagles fullback Liam Blackburn and one for Alan Stevenson with a goal from Jonas Hirondelle for the hosts.
PETERLEE PUMAS moved off the bottom when they travelled to GATESHEAD SPARTANS and came away with the spoils, winning 38-32 in an end to end game which could have gone either way. With Spartans 20-18 ahead at the break, Pumas raced out of the blocks to lead 20-32 before Spartans pulled it back to within a converted score. Pumas extended their lead to 26-38 before Spartans nabbed a consolation score making it 32-38 with Frankie Coulson man of the match for the visitors.
SUNDERLAND benefitted from a bye last weekend as they disposed of EAST CUMBRIA CRUSADERS 52-24 to leave Crusaders rooted to the foot of the table. The host’s second win from their opening four games saw them score 10 tries, but more pleasing was the debut of four new players to their ranks. James Pocklington’s hat-trick showed them the way whilst Mark Wilson with two, Raymie Elliott, Ben Slater, Anthony Bolton, Morgan Lowrie and Dave Williams also getting in on the act. Despite going down for the fifth straight game the Crusaders can take some heart from a hard working display.
In the Regional division, DURHAM TIGERS picked up their first ever win in a nail biting clash away to PETERLEE PUMAS development side. An inexperienced Pumas side raced away to an early lead scoring four quick tries with some attractive expansive rugby. Tigers’ strength in the forwards showed though, allowing them overturn the Pumas lead to emerge eventual winners, a hat trick from man of the match Neil Scullion and a brace from Scott Shield giving them a 36-24 victory with Sean Condell man of the match for the home side.
A game breaking performance from Dean Langsdown ensured MINERS RL a comprehensive 62-0 win at WHITLEY BAY BARBARIANS.
In the clash of the round, the top two played out a try-fest at Framwellgate Moor when DURHAM DEMONS hosted table toppers CRAMLINGTON ROCKETS. The game lived up to its billing as a cracker and produced quite a spectacle. Standout performances for Rockets came from teenage hooker Tommy Williams and full-back Theo Nwosu-Hope while Mike Mitchell continued his scoring run with another brace as Rockets took the spoils 42-40. The visitors stretched their unbeaten start to the season to seven games, Thomas Callighan and Phil Hardcastle contributing to the nine try performance. Durham – who never gave up throughout a pulsating contest – eventually succumbed to their first defeat of the campaign but went down fighting with Jonathan Cox, Liam Smith and Daniel Robson all performing well.
BRISTOL SONICS A moved to the top of the West of England table at the expense of OXFORD CAVALIERS with a narrow 30-28 win at Aretians. The Sonics held a 20-16 lead going into the final quarter but the Cavaliers could not quite close the gap by the final whistle in an entertaining game.
Four tries from full-back Callum Wilcox were the highlight in WEST BRADFORD BARBARIANS’ 50-18 success over ROTHERHAM ROOSTERS. He opened and closed the scoring as the Barbarians built a 28-0 half time lead, Elliot Cousins, Liam Vaseley and a special from prop Jake Brook which saw him dummy and step three defenders also crossing in the opening forty.
Neil Dunn and Scott Brown with unconverted efforts gave the Roosters hope after the break but Wilcox completed his treble in the 63rd minute, Nathan Marshall crossing in the next set. Martin Smith battled over for the visitors, Vaseley and Dunn swapped second tries each, Alex Windle’s fifth goal bringing up the half century in the closing minute.
A late Lewis Jackson try saw WEST HULL emerge victorious 34-28 at OULTON RAIDERS. Scrum half Rob Charlton was outstanding for the hosts as they built an 18-14 half time lead and he claimed four of side’s five tries in all. Winger Dave Mankell was behind the Wests revival, posting two touchdowns, Danny Kane, Jake Parker, and Lewis Colreen their other first half try scorers, Luke Richardson replying. Craig Carter and Lewis Jackson edged visitors further ahead, Shane Carter, Stu Crooks and Colreen each kicking a goal, Oulton – for whom Lee Brown bagged four conversions - staging a late fight back but to no avail.
A length of the field try from prop Cliffton Richardson was the highlight of FEATHERSTONE LIONS’ 36-20 triumph over STANNINGLEY. Josh Beecher, Sam Millard and Brendon Gibbons, along with two Beecher goals gave the Lions a 16 point advantage on the half hour, Josh Tate and Martin Oxbury with the first of his brace either side of the break keeping the visitors in touch. After Richardson’s stunning intervention two minutes into the second period, Mikey O’Donnell and Josh Walker extending Featherstone’s lead. Walker and Richardson both crossed for their second, Beecher finishing with four goals for the home side, Joshua Simpson gaining a late consolation for the visitors, Josh Hickey landing two conversions. Lions loose forward Brendon Gibbins and Stanningley prop Rob Bussey were the respective stand outs.
No matches were played because of the Bank Holiday weekend in London & South and East but some big games loom next weekend.
ST IVES ROOSTERS will look to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2012 season when they host BURY TITANS at California Road. Player-coach Paul Ashbridge cannot fail to have been impressed by the start his side have made to the season, although they are sure to face their toughest test yet when they take on a Titans side that is also unbeaten. Second-placed BEDFORD TIGERS hit the road as they travel to KINGS LYNN BLACK KNIGHTS. The Tigers will be looking to end a two-game losing streak which has seen them fall behind table-topping St Ives, although they will surely go into the contest as favourites against a Knights side that is winless so far.
League leaders LONDON SKOLARS will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season against Hammersmith when they host EASTERN RHINOS. The Rhinos will travel to White Hart Lane with confidence after a big win over South London two weeks ago. HAMMERSMITH HILL HOISTS will look to keep up the pressure at the top of the table when they entertain WEST LONDON SHARKS. A home win is the likely outcome but the bottom-of-the-table Sharks have shown some real signs of improvement with two wins after starting the campaign with three straight defeats. If the early games are anything to go by the contest between ELMBRIDGE EAGLES and SOUTH LONDON STORM could be a close one. The sides sit next to each other in the table, although the need for a win is probably greater for the Eagles as they are two points behind their rivals.
PORTSMOUTH NAVY SEAHAWKS will look to make it three wins on the bounce when they welcome MEDWAY DRAGONS to the south coast. The Dragons will travel looking to avenge a heavy home defeat against the Seahawks on the opening weekend, but recent form suggests they could be up against it. League pace-setters GREENWICH ADMIRALS will look to hold on to top spot when they travel to SOUTHAMPTON SPITFIRES. The Admirals dropped their first points of the season last week when they were held 18-18 by Guildford and they will want to return to the kind of form that saw them overpower the Spitfires in round one. There’s a mid-table clash when GUILDFORD GIANTS host SUSSES MERLINS where the Giants will be out for revenge having lost to the Merlins earlier on in the season.