Tier 4 Regional League round-up
LONDON & SOUTH
In the Southern Premier, HAMMERSMITH HILLS HOISTS and London Skolars A continue to set the pace at the top of the table. Hammersmith raced into an early 22 point lead against an under strength Elmbridge Eagles side but Elmbridge began the second half in much more positive fashion with two converted tries. However, down to just 13 men, the Hoists took full advantage of a tired and depleted Eagles outfit, eventually winning 68-12.
LONDON SKOLARS A were just as convincing in their 70- 4 demolition of SOUTH LONDON STORM. The Skolars and Hammersmith have now opened up a six point gap at the top with four rounds remaining.
The matches in the South East Regional League were much more competitive with the biggest winning margin being just eight points. The south coast derby between SOUTHAMPTON SPITFIRES and SUSSEX MERLINS lived up to its billing with defences superb. The game remained scoreless for 40 minutes with the Spitfires eventually making home advantage count to edge through 10-8 and secure second place in the table.
PORTSMOUTH NAVY SEAHAWKS remain unbeaten at the top following their hard fought 38-30 victory at GREENWICH ADMIRALS. MEDWAY DRAGONS moved off the bottom of the table with a well deserved 32-26 victory at GUILDFORD GIANTS.
In the East Regional League, NORTH HERTS CRUSADERS kept up the pressure on St Ives Roosters at the top of the table with a convincing 76-10 win over BURY TITANS but it was a much closer affair at MILTON KEYNES with the Wolves gaining their first point of the season thanks to a 24-24 draw with KINGS LYNN BLACK KNIGHTS.
ST IVES ROOSTERS made it through to the Challenge Shield final with a 38–20 victory over a spirited BARKING & DAGENHAM BULLDOGS. Having made the long trip to Cambridgeshire, the Bulldogs surprised the home side by taking a 12-10 lead before the Roosters finally came through.
WEST OF ENGLAND
The only scheduled fixture in the division was hit by the wet weather. Both the Gloucestershire Warriors’ Sandyleaze pitch and clubhouse car park were under water causing their match with Swindon St George to be postponed. Both clubs hope to rearrange the match for this coming weekend (14th July) with a 1pm kick off.
DEE VALLEY DRAGONS picked up their third win of the North Wales Conference campaign, moving them into second position thanks to a powerful defensive display 56-22 against CONWY CELTS. Dafydd Jones gave the Dragons the lead on two minutes and it was increased soon after when Mike Daniels made a strong run through the Celts defence to touch down. Conway struck back with their first attack of the game, it came close to the Dragons’ line and they capitalised on the field position to gain a well earned score between the posts. Steffan Parry replied and the hosts scored a further three tries before the half time interval, with Paul Jones running the length of the field, Daniels scoring his second and Dylan Roberts breaking the line to touch down from short range. Celts stayed in with a further score as the teams turned around at 32-10. Corwen enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges to the second half, but an interception from Jones within his own 30-metres got the Deeside momentum moving again. The next Dragons try was also a long range effort with Huw Jones showing good strength to score by the posts, and Daniels grabbed his hat-rick down the left wing. Celts posted their third try but Paul Jones took advantage of a gap in the visitor’s defence to break through and his brother Barry was in support to score the first try of his career.
WREXHAM BRADLEY RAIDERS moved off bottom spot for the first time this season with a 36-28 victory over FLINTSHIRE FALCONS, in what was an end-to-end encounter, with both sides eager to record their first points of the year. However, it looked as if it was going to be one of those days again for the Raiders in difficult conditions, as they trailed by 10 points after as many minutes. Gordon Rodgers and Alan Burn both darted over for Falcons tries between the sticks, with Jamie Elder converting one. That sparked a response as the Raiders went in for two tries in three minutes from Sam Dawson and Daf Rowlands after the ball was shifted left, Mike Jones added the extras for both. Flintshire then regained their lead with a try from Lee Burn, but Gaz Owen cancelled it out, which took the Wrexham side into an 18-14 lead at the break, as Jamie Elder failed with his conversion attempt. Raiders increased their lead midway into the second half as Owen managed to stretch out and ground the ball on the line following a penalty and Mike Jones added the goal once again, 24-14. Jack Coleclough responded and Elder’s conversion made it 24-20. Coleclough’s score came on the back of a penalty, which also saw his team-mate sin-binned for dissent, and that proved crucial as the home side went in for two tries in that period to take them into a 36-20 lead with just eight minutes left. Rob Morris saw off several attempted tacklers from 20 metres out and Rowlands’ weaving run from a deep allowed him to break several tackles, Jones keeping his 100% conversion rate intact. Falcons rallied, Coleclough with his second as he went over in the right corner and Elder added the other, but he couldn’t convert his own try. Both sides went over for six tries, Jones’ goal kicking ultimately the difference between victory and defeat.
BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS got back to winning ways on Wednesday night with an 11 try, 58-22 victory over NEWPORT TITANS in the South Wales Premier. The reigning champions had lost their previous two games but any chance of the Titans making it a hat-trick of losses evaporated early on when a devastating first half hour put Bridgend 32-0 up. Both sides had chances early on with Titans Matt Rogers almost breaking free in the opening minute, before great play from Bulls duo Tylon Mafi and Gareth Howells sent Danyl Davies over for a seventh minute try. A great kick and chase from Craig Chalmers then helped set up a great move which resulted in Gareth Howells scoring, and Howells also converted. Two more quick tries from Davies, the second after a charging run from Lee Harben-Jones, both converted by Howells then made it 22-0 before Lloyd Ryland and Craig Fox added further misery for the Titans with scores, with Howells adding another kick to make it 32-0. Nathan Bird eventually got one back for the Titans, goaled by Matt Rogers but Danyl Davies had the final say with his fourth try and a fifth goal from Howells made it 38-6 at half time. Newport claimed a second try early in the second half via Andrew Whittingham, but Bridgend hit back straight away with Tom Johnson scoring just seconds after coming off the bench. Despite being well beaten the Titans never gave up and were rewarded with two more scores with Nick Bryant and Ryan Matson scoring, speedster Davies then grabbed his fifth of the game for the Bulls before the Titans claimed their final try from Matt Rogers. But the Bulls were always on control and claimed two more late tries, teenage prop Owen Thomas scored a great solo try to cap off a fine debut, before Richard Howells raced over for try number 11 after a well-timed pass from David James.
TITANS were impressive winners on Saturday, taking the prized scalp of DYFFRYN DEVILS 50-36 on a surprisingly sunny afternoon in Penybanc. They shared ten tries in an open first half, Titans the better side in the second touching down on four more occasions to the Devil’s one.
BONYMAEN BRONCOS won an eagerly awaited return, 46-18 over VALLEY COUGARS in a feisty clash. Broncos scored a try within the first 30 seconds, a great pass by Stuart Allen putting Jason Howells through to score from 50 meters, Ian Brooks converting. A huge hit by Broncos captain Richard Brooks on the Cougars’ Scott Belmont resulted in a turnover, which lead to Ian Brooks scoring from 40 meters out and goaling to double the lead. After several warnings referee Ian Jones sent captain Richard Brooks to the sin-bin for an illegal tackle and within seconds the Broncos were down to 11 men, Ricky Rosser this time being shown the yellow card. With the two-man advantage, the Cougars rallied and scored a try by Mark Powell, which was converted from the touchline by Daniel Parry. From the restart, Chris Stokes went over following a successful kick and chase and Ian Brooks made it 18-6. Chris Hoppe then did likewise to extend Bonymaen’s lead at the break. The Cougars started the second half superbly, Neil Sloane went over in the corner and Parry goaled. Broncos were their own worst enemies, Richard Brooks firstly being red carded and then winger Chris Stokes was given ten minutes for a dangerous tackle. Cougars once again took full advantage and Mike Herbert crossed with Parry converting once again. Once Stokes returned, it brought the best out of the Broncos and loose forward Dan Griffiths went over for two tries, one being converted by Ian Brooks, who then grabbed his brace. A solo effort from deep from Richard Lewis followed and despite another Bronco being sent to the bin, Nick Clancey picked up a loose carry and he sprinted 80 metres to score by the posts and Ian Brooks goaled.
Jamie Morrow was the star performer as WALNEY CENTRAL ran out 60-6 winners over HINDLEY. The scrum-half crossed for four tries in a great display which saw his side top the Division One table. The Barrow side were 18-6 to the good by half time thanks to a hat-trick from Morrow and three Jordan Staffieri conversions, while Hindley stayed in touch courtesy of a Danny Carney touchdown which was improved by Stephen Sutcliffe. The second half, however, was all one-way traffic as Morrow crossed again and he was joined on the score sheet by Danny Morrow and Mike Elliott each with a pair, Matthew Holmes and Brad Nicholls. Staffieri completed a good afternoon’s work as he finished with five conversions, whilst winger Dave Nicholson matched him.
There was not much to choose between the two sides as SHEVINGTON SHARKS ran out 32-22 winners at LEIGH EAST. Mark Walsh, Dan Griffiths and Mark Lake all touched down in the first half as the Sharks took control, although Dale Alred’s effort gave the home side some hope. Winger Andrew Beanly increased the Sharks advantage before Sam Pepper and Lake made the game safe. In between Carl Green, Gary Fletcher and Adam Cooper all went over to complete the scoring in an entertaining contest. For the Sharks, Beanly was successful with four conversions, with Ryan Perks on target three times for Leigh.
In the Cup semis, EXETER CENTURIONS accounted for SOMERSET VIKINGS 34-16 while NORTH DEVON RAIDERS overcame PLYMOUTH TITANS 44-28 to set up a final at Launceston RFC on 22nd July.
With the region being hit by torrential downpours on Friday only three games survived the weather. In the Premier Division NORTHAMPTON DEMONS now top the table after overcoming LEICESTER STORM, 38-12. After a bruising opening twenty minutes it was Demons who opened the scoring when veteran second rower Tim Stephens crossed. The teams then traded tries but two late first half scores from the Demons saw them take a 22-10 interval lead. Northampton dominated the second half and scored a further three converted tries. In the other encounter COVENTRY BEARS “A” lost out to local rivals BIRMINGHAM BULLDOGS at a soaked Xcel Centre. With the match marred by errors caused by the conditions the Bulldogs eventually prevailed 22-16. In Midlands Division 1 COVENTRY DRAGONS came away with a thumping win away at NEW RAVENS. A hat trick from Andy Rowlands was the highlight for the Coventry side in their 60-22 victory.
Three tries in the first 15 minutes after the interval from centre Oliver Battye, a second score for stand off Craig Farrell and one from acting half back Martin Robinson eased SCARBOROUGH PIRATES to an ultimately comfortable 38-16 victory over LEEDS AKKIES. A nervy start for the home side saw two Tom Bates tries, a Chris Roda driven touchdown and two Lee Robinson goals put the visitors in charge, the home reply coming from Farrell with his first, a flyer in the corner from winger Craig Marsden and a score to full back Harry Sleep, with goals from Tom Ratcliffe levelling it 16-all at half time.
CUTSYKE RAIDERS and BRADFORD DUDLEY HILL A defied torrential conditions in the second half to serve up an enthralling 18-all draw. Two tries from centre Jonathan Harvey coupled with Danny Huby conversions put the Raiders into a 12-0 lead by the 28th minute, Lewis Birkenshaw and Callum Smith replying before the break for the visitors, Nathan Broadbent converting the latter. Winger Birkenshaw’s second touchdown edged Hill ahead, Broadbent goaling and adding a penalty. Six minutes from time Simon Pye crossed for Cutsyke, Huby adding the extras to share the spoils. Prop Pye was a standout for the hosts along with Carl Etherington and Chris Singer, John Exley, Birkenshaw and Kyle Hunt taking the eye for Hill.