RUGBY ROUND-UP: The weekend's results and pictures from all five games
OLs and Saints both third going into the new year
Old Laurentians and Rugby St Andrews were victorious in the final round of league fixtures before the festive break, setting up an intriguing second half of the season.
Third in their respective divisions, both have great potential to secure promotion places in April.
On Saturday OLs beat sixth-placed Market Bosworth 31-5 at Fenley Field. And they will resume on January 6 OLs with a crucial game, taking on Midlands 2 (East) leaders Oadby Wyggestonians, who beat Stamford 47-10 at the weekend. They top the table with 51 points, with Market Harborough second on 47 and OLs on 43.
Saints beat Dunlop 8-0 at John Tomalin Way and are just two points behind Midlands 3 West (South) leaders Old Coventrians. The division is so tight, the defeat dropped Dunlop down to seventh place and there are just seven points between the top seven teams.
Old Covs have 38 points, Shipston on Stour 36, Saints 36, fourth-placed Old Leamingtonians 34, Ledbury 32, Alcester 32 and Dunlop 31.
Saints’ first game of the new year is at ninth-placed Manor Park, who lost 51-7 at Old Leams at the weekend.
Newbold had another disappointing result, going down 36-5 to seventh-placed Scunthorpe in the Midlands Premier division. Their new year’s resolution will be to escape the relegation zone, beginning the task at third-placed Newport (Salop) on January 6. Having shown, in spells, that they can compete with anyone in the division, they will be concentrating on maintaining their best form throughout 80 minutes.
Rugby Lions supporters will be hoping for better things in 2018 after their team lost 20-17 at 12th-placed Melbourne. Lions are still fifth in Midlands 1 West, but have played 14 games, which is one or two more than all the other sides. Having ended their run of defeats with a good performance at home to Hereford last week, fans will be left scratching their heads at the lack of consistency. Their first game after Christmas will be a trip to Moseley Oak.
Rugby Welsh were just two points from inflicting a first defeat of the season on Midlands 5 West (South) leaders Aldridge. Welsh were beaten 8-6 at Alwyn Road, but are still third in the table on 16 points from six games, with second-placed Atherstone on 19 and Aldridge dominating on 28.
Welsh are back in action on January 6 at Birmingham Exiles, who lost 22-10 at Keresley at the weekend. The division’s other result saw Kings Norton beat Atherstone 15-7.