Round-up of the Tier 4 Regional Leagues
A much-improved defensive performance from GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS was not quite enough to prevent their third consecutive Premier division defeat this time at the hands of NORTHAMPTON DEMONS, 32-18. Jamie Cottle’s try with fourteen minutes left finally gave the Demons breathing space but they were made to work hard for the win that lifts them to the top of the table. The Demons’ style is nothing if not predictable as they sent their big, aggressive pack crashing at the rock of the Warriors’ defence and, with twice as much possession, they had the hosts on the back foot throughout a torrid second period that occasionally threatened to explode. Warriors had the satisfaction of scoring the game’s two best tries with long range breaks exploiting frailty in the Demons’ edge defence but ultimately it was the relentless power of the visitors that won the day.
Dave Masters opened the scoring after ten minutes crashing over from close range, Kai Fewster’s goal giving Northampton a 6-0 advantage. The Warriors replied immediately as a last tackle kick was allowed to bounce by the Demons’ defence and Joe Payne pounced to score, Ash Lewis converting to level. Mike Hulme went over out wide for a well-worked try on 24 minutes but the Warriors took a narrow lead into the break after Sam Goatley combined to send Alex Hoyle away and Joe Hoyle supported on the inside for a fine long range try. Aaron Fowke this time added the extras from in front. Fired up by the half-time pep talk, the Demons powered over for two quick tries through Chris Webber and Oliver Cottle, Fewster goaling one for a 20-12 advantage. But the Warriors hit back with another long-range score, Goatley finding space out wide from a 20 metre restart to sent Nick Rhodes racing to the posts, Lewis’ conversion cutting the lead to two points.
The Demons dominated the final quarter camping on the Warriors line but could only score twice more to seal the game. Fewster getting the first and Jamie Cottle the second after the Warriors’ Joe Toft had been sin-binned for a professional foul and the short-handed defence had soaked up five consecutive sets on their goal-line. The Warriors attacked as hard as they could but lost man of the match Matt Williams with an ankle injury towards the end of a physical and at times bad tempered match and were unable to close the gap further.
BIRMINGHAM BULLDOGS survived a second half fight back by visitors LEICESTER STORM to record their second league win of the season, 42-32 in an end to end thriller. After dominating the first half hour to go 16 points up, Bulldogs saw their lead whittled away to nothing, but found some extra reserve of energy to claim the spoils late on. Leicester started brightly with a try for Josh Hull, goaled by Dave Weston. Bulldogs levelled with a touchdown from Ian Briggs, which he converted before posting a second try and goal ten minutes later. Mark Etherington responded with a try for Storm but Brum then hit a purple patch with tries from Greg Pearson, Adam Walker – goaled by Briggs and Ed Lee.
Leicester then began to turn the tide with a second try from Etherington and, right on half time, Adam Welsh went over. At the start of the second half, Storm carried in where they had left off with a second try from Welsh and one for Jack Boothby wiping out Bulldogs’ lead. Birmingham re-gathered and wrested back the initiative with two fine tries from Tom McNamee and Simon Edwards, both goaled by Briggs which took them 12 points clear. But Storm battled to the finish and a try from Adam Jones, goaled by Weston once again cut the gap to a single score. With both teams tiring rapidly in the final minutes, Bulldogs’ Pearson found space on the right to cross for his second try and clinch a win.
TELFORD RAIDERS slumped to their first home defeat of the Division 1 season following a lacklustre start going down 34-20 at home to COVENTRY DRAGONS. Telford lacked intensity in the early stages of the game as the visitors raced into an 18 – 0 lead. The introduction of hooker Pom Tutt gave Telford some extra impetus in the second half and he scored two breathtaking long distance tries, but an organised Dragons outfit were able to maintain their discipline and three second half scores were enough to secure Coventry their first win over the Raiders after four consecutive defeats.
SOUTH WEST @SouthWestRL
NORTH DEVON RAIDERS maintained top spot in the South West with an 80-0 thrashing of EXETER CENTURIONS at Barnstaple. The Raiders scored fourteen tries and twelve goals as the under-strength Centurions defended bravely but , ultimately, without reward. Will Topps led the way with four tries and ten goals for a 36 point haul ably assisted by braces from Justin Southam, Toby Williamson, Charlie Barnfield and debutant Charlie Bazaii with Matt Phillips and Luke Doyle also crossing the whitewash. Defeated but not disgraced, Matt Coldrey worked hard at hooker for the visitors as did Charlie Hinton and Maheson Ballasundarum making the hard yards on a tough day for the Centurions.
DEVON SHARKS moved into second place as they avenged their heavy opening day defeat at the hands of the EXMOUTH SAINTS and continued their winning run of late. The Saints led 10-4 at the break but a hat-trick from Dylan Flashman and doubles from Ross MacFarlane and Jarryd Harris helped the Torquay side to a 52-24 win and go level on points with North Devon having played a game more.
LONDON & SOUTH EAST AND EAST @LondonRL @East_RL
In the Southern Premier Division HAMMERSMITH HILLS HOISTS were involved in a real thriller at SOUTH LONDON STORM. Storm led for most of the game but Hoists managed to draw level and with the last play of the game landed a drop goal to snatch a 29–28 victory.
LONDON SKOLARS A, remain tied with Hammersmith at the top of the table after a comfortable 40-10 win over WEST LONDON SHARKS.
In the South East Division another close encounter ended with MEDWAY DRAGONS locked at 24-24 with GREENWICH ADMIRALS. Greenwich led 10-6 at half time and scored five tries to Medway’s four but could convert only two while the Dragons converted all of their touchdowns.
SOUTHAMPTON SPITFIRES beat GUILDFORD GIANTS 34-12 and league leaders PORTSMOUTH NAVY SEAHAWKS maintained their unbeaten record with a 60–18 victory at SUSSEX MERLINS.
In the East, NORTH HERTS CRUSADERS beat KINGS LYNN BLACK KNIGHTS 38-22 while ST IVES ROOSTERS stretched their lead at the top of the table to four points with a 54-35 victory over second placed BEDFORD TIGERS.
NORTH WEST @rugbyleaguenw
In Division One, WALNEY CENTRAL lost their unbeaten record as they went down 16-10 at the hands of the ROOSE PIONEERS. It was visitors that took the lead on eight minutes thanks to a try from loose forward Harry Gee; Mike McKinley with the conversion. However, the Pioneers responded on 23 minutes thanks to hooker Ross Walker’s touch down; Steve Perry adding the extras. Four minutes later the home side were ahead when Dan Vial crossed to make it 10-6 at half time. The crucial score came on the hour mark as Pioneers scrum half Adam Batty found a way over the whitewash, Perry with the conversion. Matty Holmes did add four points for Central two minutes from time, but it proved to be only of consolation value.
PRESTATYN & RHYL PANTHERS turned in with a terrific performance to defeat newly-formed FLINTSHIRE FALCONS 66-8 at the Meadows playing fields. Panthers came in to the match hoping to keep up their unbeaten run and got off to a great start when centre Paul Sellwood jinked his way through to open the scoring. Soon after, Sellwood was involved again offloading in the tackle for Paul Robinson to post his second try of the season, converted by full-back Lewys Weaver, returning to action after being part of the winning Wales Students side. Flintshire then hit back with a try to the right of the posts after Jon O'Shea responding with a fine run through the Falcons right hand defence.
Flintshire showed their mettle, scoring wide right after consecutive penalties and Weaver was sin binned for dissent as the Falcons continued to press. Nick Howell-Smith then completed a wonderful move from left to right to grab his first try of the season closely followed over by Jack Higgins' after a beautiful pass from Rob Blackmore to make it 22-8 at half time. Panthers pressed on at the start of the second half, scoring back to back tries from two Blackmore kicks for Ed Collinge and Weaver respectively, Weaver converting both. Straight from the kick off Pete Cunningham broke and found Sellwood in support to go over and claim his second hat-trick of the season. Panthers added scores through Collinge, Robinson and the impressive Hugh Lloyd, Weaver converting two. The eye-catching display was capped off by a wonderful individual effort from man of the match Weaver who grubbered through and re-gathered, stepped the Falcons winger and rounded the full-back to score between the posts and convert.
A Reggie Stirk hat trick was the highlight for SCARBOROUGH PIRATES on a wet and breezy east coast as they overcame WEST BRADFORD BARBARIANS 42-6. Stirk opened his account 15 seconds in, collecting a high ball 10 metres into his own half and side stepped his way clear on 60 metre run to the posts. Tries for Robinson, Sleep, Ratcliffe, Jenkinson and former Batley Bulldog skipper Craig Farrell completed a polished all round performance by the Seasiders.
HUNSLET WARRIORS A triumphed 26-4 over STANNINGLEY A in the south versus west Leeds derby. Warriors were looking to avenge their defeat on the opening day of the season and took the lead through centre Joel Henry on the quarter hour mark. Stanningley hit back five minutes later through centre Joe Ugaerte but from then on it was one way traffic as the hosts built a 22-4 half time lead with further tries from Danny Morgan with a brace and Lee Dennell, full-back Ryan Clark converting three. Player coach, stand-off Amraz Hamid marshalled the Warriors well as they added to their tally three minutes into the second half with a try from winger Az Niles. A confident display from Warriors kept the visitors contained and there was no further scoring.
MILFORD MARLINS kept up the pace in Group 1 with a win over YORK LOKOMOTIVE. Milford –with their fifth win on the bounce – really turned on the style with a comprehensive 60-10 success in the Minster city.
WESTGATE WOLVES claimed the local bragging rights as they cruised past Wakefield rivals NORMANTON KNIGHTS 36-12 and GREETLAND ALL ROUNDERS were another side to come out on top as they saw off the challenge of DEWSBURY CELTIC 32-12.
In the Premier, SHAW CROSS SHARKS leapfrogged BRADFORD DUDLEY HILL in the table following their narrow 18-12 win. The Sharks’ victory was their first since the opening weekend.