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Bishop’s Stortford tame Leicester Lions with crucial 39-12 win in fight to avoid the drop from National 1

Bishop’s Stortford bounced back from their 80-10 mauling by leaders Chinnor last week and took a big step towards securing their National League 1 survival by beating fellow relegation-threatened visitors Leicester Lions on Saturday.

Their bonus-point 39-12 win at Silver Leys means they leapfrog the Lions into 11th, who started the day one place and four points above Stortford in the 14-team table.

Just as crucially, Marcus Cattell’s boys extended the gap to the bottom two from three points to seven as 13th-placed Cinderford lost 30-25 at Sedgley Park.

With three games left – the last of which is at Cinderford – Stortford have 46 points, Leicester Lions 45, Cinderford 39 and Taunton Titans 38, after a thrilling 22-20 bonus-point win at home to Darlington Mowden Park.

Three of Stortford’s five tries were scored by Chris Smith, left, and Nick Hankin
Three of Stortford’s five tries were scored by Chris Smith, left, and Nick Hankin

Bishop’s Stortford were never behind in a match in which they scored five tries: two by full back Nick Hankin and one each from winger Chris Smith and centres Francis Moore and skipper James Ayrton.

They led 20-0 at half time, with Tom Walker kicking two penalties and two conversions to add to tries by Smith and Hankin, and stretched the lead to 34-0 before handling errors handed Leicester their first points in the form of a converted try. The sides then exchanged unconverted tries to complete the scoring. Austin Pope made his 50th first XV appearance as a replacement.

After the Easter break, Stortford return to action with a trip to Darlington on April 6 before their final home game against Sale on April 13. Then it’s the season finale away to Cinderford on April 27.

Meanwhile, Leicester Lions go to Chinnor (April 6), host Darlington (13) and finish at Sale (27). Cinderford entertain Rosslyn Park (6) and are away to Taunton Titans (13) before they face Stortford (27). Taunton travel to Sale (6), host Cinderford (13) and finish at Blackheath.

Stortford: Hankin, Smith, Moore, Ayrton, Mills, Walker, Bolton; Hill, Adejimi, Peck, Kiff, H Charter, Langworthy, Jones, Rogers. Replacements: Rayment, Ramzan, Pope, Lloyd, Morris.

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