After starting the season on a 12- game winning run, Loughborough Students have now lost two of their last three fixtures to blow the Two North title race

wide open. The latest setback came away to Preston who deservedly won 19-5 at Lightfoot Green. ‘Hoppers built up a 14-0 half- time advantage and then

defended resolutely to take the scalp of the league leaders.

The Students’ lead has been cut to a point after Fylde produced an outstanding display of wet weather rugby to win 46-0 at Kendal. Nick Royle celebrated his

England Sevens recall with the game’s opening try after just two minutes and Fylde went on to touch down five more times before the interval. The

Lancastrians were restricted to two tries in the second half, including a second for Royle.

Leicester Lions maintained their challenge with a 17-5 win in blustery conditions over Caldy, but Westoe were temporarily blown off course at Morley. The

Maroons warmed up for Saturday’s visit to Loughborough with a 14-7 victory, which also lifts the Yorkshire side out of the bottom three.

Halfway through the season, Manchester are still without a point after going down 79-5 at Hull Ionians. The home side ran in 13 tries with Gary Stephenson,

Joe Sanders and Dan Porter getting a brace each. Elsewhere, Luctonians responded to last week’s shock defeat at Nuneaton with victory over Rugby Lions,

while there were away wins for Hull (at Nuneaton) and Huddersfield, who scored 14 unanswered points to beat Harrogate.