The Archers picked up just their fifth win of the season at the weekend, Craig Hammond’s Nottingham side claiming a hard-fought, 28-17 win, on the road at Richmond.
It was to be a victory that pushed them back up to the ninth in the RFU Championship table as sides prepare themselves for the final throes of the season.
Just a handful of matches remain, but Hammond’s side still have an outside chance of finishing in the top six, just eight points separating them, and sixth place Doncaster Knights.
Away to second bottom Richmond, it would be the hosts who’d take the lead, midway through the first, something which awakened the Archers as they crossed for three, unanswered, of their own.
Josh Neville was first, he capitalising on a weaving run from Samuel Hollingsworth, then, ten minutes later, Michael Stronge was seen to dive under the posts; not happy with that, the Archers added a third try a few minutes after, this time a set-piece move is finished, again under the posts, by David Williams – Hollingsworth converted all three tries as the Archers led, 21-7, at the break.
Early in the second and the visitors lead was increased, this time Kehinde Olowofela finishes off a fast counter move in the corner, Hollingsworth again converting; the hosts did add two further tries of their own, late on, but Hammond’s side held on for a much-needed win.
Momentum is key, however, with their next outing back home in Lady Bay, this coming weekend, Nottingham face the daunting task of repelling runaway leaders, Ealing Trailfinders (18 March).
There’s not much luck for the county’s two representatives in the Regional 1 North East division this season, the duo of Paviors, and West Bridgford, now making up the bottom two, the latter marooned at the foot on 16 points following a 45-15 loss at home to Billingham, and the former, in a battle with Scunthorpe to stay up (they’re separated by a solitary point), on 27 points after they shipped a hundred plus away to Driffield; now in second, the hosts romped to a 106-7 victory.
In the Regional 2 North Midlands, Newark are still pushing for a top three finish, heading into the final weekend, as just six points separate the Notts side, in sixth, and third place Sutton Coldfield, Newark having won 36-28 at home to Matlock, and Sutton, they edged their hosts, Belgrave, 47-45. The closing round will see Sutton at runners-up, Long Eaton, and Newark, they need a big result at eighth place, Leicester Forest; between them, Melbourne and Moseley Oak, both have home games, against Leek and Belgrave, respectively – it’ll be tight.
Mellish will finish runners-up in the Counties 1 Midlands East (North), to champions Hinckley IIs, the sides having just one game remaining; the Nottinghamshire-based side, they picked up a 29-19 win away to second bottom Ashby, whilst lowly Southwell (sitting in eighth), they fell to a home defeat, going down 36-15 to Ashbourne. On the final day (18 March) Hinckley host Birstall, and Mellish travel to Loughborough, second versus third.
Mansfield are neck-and-neck with Boston at the top of the Counties 2 Midlands East (North) division, although Boston have a game in hand in the run-in, both Mansfield, and the other Notts side, East Retford, losing at the weekend. Going down 32-17, away to Boston, was far from what Mansfield wanted, and they’ll now rely on results elsewhere before celebrating, whereas the Retford side, they fell to a 37-15 defeat at home to Kesteven.
This coming Saturday, Mansfield finish their season with a home game to Nottingham Casuals (third), whilst Boston first face a trip to Belper (ninth), before finishing up, a week later, at home to Sileby Town (twelfth).
Finally, in the Nottinghamshire dominated, Counties 3 Midlands (North) East division, and with a handful of games left all-round, Nottingham Medics strengthened third place with a comfortable, 7-15 win, at home to eighth place, Nottinghamians, whilst second bottom Woksop lost 33-7 away to Cleethorpes, and leaders Meden Vale collected a home walkover success against Southwell IIs.
With Meden Vale (74) leading the way, it’s Newark IIs (68) title to lose, they still having three to play with the Vale now finished; Newark’s second string, they have three local affairs in the next three weeks before wrapping up, travelling to third bottom Ollerton this coming Saturday (18 March), then away to Worksop (25 March) and finishing at mid-table Paviors IIs at the start of April.
The last round of matches in the division will also see Nottingham Medics host Paviors IIs, Nottinghamians welcome Cleethorpes, and Southwell IIs travel to Sleaford, whilst Worksop travel to North Hykeham, before finishing the season at home to Newark IIs.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NottinghamRugby. a fifth win of the season for Nottingham