Winning declarations, late dramas and moments of genius… The third round had it all

Canterbury bounced back from their derby day loss to move up to second in the National Two East table

©Philippe Hilton

Long may the excitement of National League Rugby continue. Levels three and four refuse to pass quietly after another entertaining weekend of action.

A national

Two converted tries in the last quarter saw the first league leaders CF Sale come from behind to beat Plymouth Albion 27-24 at Brickfields.

The hosts held a six-point advantage at half-time after tries from Jack Oulton, Alex Ducker and Michael Stupple, with Sale winger Neville Edwards grabbing a brace.

Ducker’s second came shortly after the break to extend Albion’s lead, but a third from Edwards on the hour cut the gap to four points with 20 minutes remaining.

And the current National One frontrunners completed the turnaround when Callum Morris landed to seal a third straight bonus points victory for Jonathan Keep’s men.

As Sale continued his perfect start, BirminghamMoseley opened their account for the 2022-23 season as a dazzling spell early in the second half helped them to a 35-24 victory over newly promoted Esher.

EEE led 14-10 at half-time against hosts Midlands thanks to tries from Pierre Thompson and Theo Skoumbourdis, with Sam McNulty crossing for Moseley.

However, the home side exploded after the break as Oliver Stedman scored two tries while Sam Pointon also rushed in to put Adam Balding’s charges 32-14 in front.

Esher fought back impressively through Andrew Hamilton and Ben Robbins to set up a nervy 10-minute finish at Billesley Common, but a late penalty from Ben Palmer – which took his individual tally to 15 points – secured the first victory of Moseley from the countryside.

Back to the top, Jak Rossiter scored four tries as RFC Rams maintained their 100% start to the season with a resounding 59-26 win over Hull, Rosslyn Park picked up three out of three wins after beating Chinnor 42-14 in a fiery contest on Friday night and Cambridge also collected maximum points for the third consecutive weekend following a 39-14 win over Taunton.

Also in the third round, Darlington Mowden Park’s unbeaten start to the season ended against Bishop’s Stortford. The North East club had David Fisher sent off on time and despite seven minutes to go, Dan Cole’s late penalty snatched a 25-24 triumph for the visitors. Somewhere else, Cinderella beat Leeds Tykes 24-12 on their travels.

National Two North

Fylde raced in 12 tries to beat Harrogate 74-5 and climb to the top of National Two North.

Tom Grimes scored a hat-trick for the hosts while Toby Harrison and Sam Stott both passed twice. Matt Sturgess, Jordan Dorrington, Adam Lanigan, Ben Gregory and David Fairbrother grabbed one apiece with Greg Smith scoring 14 points.

Harrogate’s only score came in the second half through Will Yates, but it was Fylde at his best, smooth and ruthless.

Sedgeley Park also took no prisoners in their third-round clash as they cruised to a 50-8 win over Preston Grasshoppers.

Sedge’s strong start to the new campaign continued as Rhys Henderson and Andy Riley both scored twice, while Ben Black’s try was arguably the highlight of the National League rugby weekend .

After a penalty was awarded to the Tigers, fly-half Steve Collins formed to put the ball into the corner. However, his clever dink was held back by Black who took to pointing as Preston was puzzled by Sedge’s creativity.

Connor James, Valu Tane Bentley and Matt Riley also went for the home side while Preston’s only highlight came via Sam Gale.

Tynedale and Hull Ionians also picked up three out of three wins on Saturday. Rob Parker scored a hat-trick for the North East side in their 41-34 win over Sheffield Tigers while the I’s ended Wharfedale’s perfect start with a 20-13 victory at The Avenue.

Also in Round 3 of the National Two North, Lloyd Hayes scored 25 runs as Rotherham Titans hammered Blaydon 50-3, Matthew Adcock’s late score secured back-to-back wins for Sheffield as they beat Otley 20-18 and Chester fought back after a slow start to defeat Huddersfield 23-17 and claim their first triumph of the season.

National Two East

Barnes remains atop the National Two East, but they suffered their first loss of the campaign after losing 26-25 to Dorking in a thriller ahead National Rugby League Review Show cameras.

Barnes had taken a 20-7 lead before half-time as Paul O’Dell (2), Jordan Souter and Will Lewin crossed for the hosts.

But tries from Jonathan Ellis and Austin Emens – which added to James Catton’s first-half effort – saw Dorking overturn this contest when they held a one-point advantage.

Cameron Roberts then latched on to a tricky kick from Josh Davies to put Barnes back in the lead, but the visitors would have the last laugh as Finn Osbourne blasted his way from close range to steal it to the death.

It was much less dramatic for Canterbury who bounced back from last week’s loss to Tonbridge Juddians by beating an unruly Westcliff 34-14 at The Gables.

The City Men punished for yellow cards shown to Jack Hogarth and James Scoggins as Guy Hilton and Nathan Morris passed before David Irvine and Will Waddington completed the bonus point.

Finlay Doyle was the next Westcliff player to be sent to sin-bin, but the hosts rallied to get on the board via Hogarth. However, tries from Harry Andrews and Waddington – either side of Bradley Robbins’ converted effort – sealed Canterbury’s victory.

National Two East’s top seven teams are now only separated by two points. Tonbridge Juddians sit third after a 36-17 win over Bury St Edmunds while Blackheath ran in 10 tries to overtake Rochford Hundred 64-5 and Max Titchener’s boot guided Henley Hawks to a 28-24 win over Guernsey Raiders.

Somewhere else, old albanian picked up back-to-back wins after beating North Walsham 31-14 and Worthwhile Raiders recorded their first win of the campaign with a 32-27 triumph over Sevenoaks.

National Two West

Zachery Bean and Alex Wilcockson scored two tries each as Leicester Lions picked up a 48-19 win over Newport (Salop) to extend their winning streak to 11 games.

The duo went over the top in the first half, but Newport had their nose in front at the break with tries from George Boughey and Jacob Leonard (2).

However the Lions, who have not tasted a league defeat since March, surged in the second half as Devon Constant, Nick Cairns, Tom Williams and Ed Sumpter went down as the home side netted 31 unanswered points.

University of Exeter continued their strong start to life in National Two West by claiming a 37-17 bonus points win over Loughborough Students.

Tries from Tom Harris, Ben Joseland and Josh Barton gave Exeter a 19-10 lead at half-time, with Mink Scharink and Joe Plunkett replacing the hosts.

After Ben Hammersley called for a penalty for Exeter, Harry Rowson’s 61st-minute try closed the gap but the away side were able to grab the proceedings in the final quarter.

Lucas Dorrell crossed with 14 minutes remaining and Joseland’s second kept Keith Fleming’s men going on their clear start.

Crusaders Dings are also on maximum points as they survived a late revival by the Old Redcliffians to seal a 32-27 victory in the derby at Scotland Lane.

Somewhere else, Redruth and Clifton got back to winning ways in round three. The Reds emerged 41-31 winners in an entertaining encounter with the newly promoted Hornets, while Alex Howman netted a hat-trick as Clifton hammered Stourbridge 59-19.

Meanwhile, Luctonians recorded back-to-back wins with an 18-3 triumph at Bournville and Hinckley beat Barnstaple 45-17 at Pottington Road. Referee Lloyd Davies handed out four yellow cards in the final 12 minutes of this contest along with Daniel Johnson’s ejection from Barnstaple.

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