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Bishop's Stortford ease National League 1 relegation fears with tense 12-7 victory over Leeds Tykes at Silver Leys

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Bishop's Stortford eased their National League 1 relegation fears with a tense 12-7 win in their crunch clash with fellow strugglers Leeds Tykes at Silver Leys on Saturday.

The victory lifts Marcus Cattell and Tom Coleman's side three places in the table from 13th – third from bottom – at the start of play to 10th.

Both sides tried to swing the ball around in this basement battle, played in dank conditions, but a combination of strong defences and a shortage of attacking invention severely restricted scoring chances.

Stortford winger Joss Linney chases back to defend a Leeds attack in the first half. Picture: Kimberley Wallace
Stortford winger Joss Linney chases back to defend a Leeds attack in the first half. Picture: Kimberley Wallace

Stortford enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and were rewarded, after 18 minutes, with a try to Will Roberts, in support of a tremendous run from Alex Rayment off the back of an attacking line-out. Fly half George Cullen converted.

Illustrating the club's policy of nurturing its own players, the try scorer was part of a front row consisting wholly of former Stortford Colts players and was one of nine members of the starting XV who learned their rugby at Silver Leys.

Ironically, Stortford probably exerted their most sustained control after Cullen was yellow-carded 10 minutes later for a deliberate knock-on and came within inches of a second try through Josh Stannard.

Leeds revived after the restart, but neither side really threatened a score until, after 58 minutes, the visitors seized on a loose Stortford offload in midfield and moved the ball quickly to the wing to create a try for Cole Potts, converted by Charlie Venables to level the score at 7-7.

The home side fought back and camped for an extended period in the opposition 22, twice spurning kickable penalties for a quick tap and then touch. They were finally rewarded with an unconverted try to Stannard, when the visitors finally ran out of tacklers after several phases of attritional rugby.

Leeds, who started the match one place and two points behind Stortford but with two games in hand, fought back with their own spell in Stortford’s 22, but this and the game pretty much ended when the last of three penalties found touch in goal.

The four-point win moves Bishop's Stortford onto 30 points from 16 games, with Leeds, who picked up a losing bonus point, on 25 points from 14 games.

The Silver Leys side are one point clear of two teams – Birmingham Moseley (29 from 15), who lost 15-11 at home to Caldy, and Darlington Mowden Park (29 from 14), whose home match with Blackheath was postponed – and two ahead of their conquerors last week, Plymouth Albion (28 from 15), who lost 41-27 at Rams.

Stortford: Powell, Linney, Winter (c), Ayrton J, Stannard, Cullen, Smart; Roberts, Caulfield, McCrone, Charter, Thacker, Apperley, Rayment, Wrafter. Replacements: King, Brownhill, Jones, Bryan, Smith.

Leeds: Lawson, Turagabeci, Venables, Williams, Jukes, Morgan, Hardwick; Valentine, Brown, Hardman, Brady, Bell, Collins, Smith (c), Burke. Replacements: Potts, Ridgway, Choudhury, Scott, Dixon.

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