Defeat to leaders could prove to be costly for Ionians’ title aspirations

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HULL Ionians slipped further behind leaders Stourbridge after they lost out 27-15 at their rivals’ Midlands base on Saturday.

Second-placed Ionians fought back from a 27-3 deficit, but their two second-half tries were not enough to take the win in the face of some strong defence from Stourbridge, who now lead the table by 13 points.

First-half tries from Stourbridge’s Peter White, Will Hurrell (2), James Hearn and Gary Dipple did the damage, with scrum-half Adam Thomas and No 8 Joe Sanders replying for Ionians after the break.

Hull scraped a narrow 15-13 win over Darlington Mowden Park, having stand-off Greg Lound to thank for all their points.

Lound kicked a first-half penalty, as did opposite number Tom Hodgson, to leave the match tied 3-3 at the break.

Although Chris McTurk scored two tries for the visitors in the second half, it was four further penalties from the reliable Lound which proved decisive – particularly after unlucky Darlington missed a last-minute conversion.

The return of Ben Cooper, who out-shone league leading goal-kicker Sean Taylor with a penalty and two touch-line conversions, ensured Otley a hard-fought 
22-20 home win over high-flying Preston.

The home side effectively pinned the Hoppers in their own half for the first 19 minutes during which time Johnathan Matthews went in at the corner, with Cooper converting.

No 8 Dominic Moon and Otley’s James Wood then traded tries, although William Keenan’s converted effort while the home side were a man light brought the sides level.

A superb run by Wood gave him a second try – crucially converted by Cooper – with seven minutes remaining. Moon managed to grab a second try of the game shortly after but the conversion was missed.

Huddersfield returned to the foot of the table after Stockport leapfrogged them with a 28-20 home victory.

The blow came only a week after Dan Hyde’s men had secured their first win of the season at home to Hull, a result which took them off the bottom of the table at Stockport’s expense. Huddersfield matched the opposition’s three tries, but lost the contest on kicks.

Winger Ben Mitchell got them off to an encouraging start with a try converted by Joel Hinchliffe. Stockport came back with a penalty but the visitors surged further ahead on 18 minutes when prop Alex Battye forced his way over – quickly followed by a penalty from fly-half Hinchliffe.

Stockport pulled back five points on 25 minutes but Huddersfield responded with centre Michael Clark’s try 10 minutes later to make it 20-10.

However, the hosts pulled themselves level through a penalty and a converted try and the longer the game went on the more they grew in confidence. A 64th-minute penalty allowed them to nudge in front and they hit Huddersfield with a try by centre James Sam before the end.