With all eight games postponed due to the freezing conditions, Loughborough Students were unable to put the disappointment of their first defeat of the season behind them. Beaten 19-17 the previous week by Luctonians, Dave Morris’s charges had hoped to take their frustration out on Rugby Lions, but a frozen pitch at Webb Ellis Road denied them the opportunity. In racking up 12 wins and that solitary defeat, Loughborough have scored an average of 43 points per game, running in 81 tries and earning 10 try bonus points in the process.

Second- placed Westoe refuse to give up the fight despite being handed a five- point deduction for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the season and go into the festive period only six points adrift, as are Fylde. Leicester Lions, who pushed the Students all the way on October 25 before going down to a 13-10 defeat, have seven points to make up.

February is likely to be a pivotal month in deciding the destiny of the title, with the students taking on all three of their rivals. They start with a trip to Fylde on February 5th, followed by an away date with Leicester Lions a fortnight later and then they end the month hosting Westoe on February 26th. Win those three games and National One rugby next season will almost certainly be theirs for the taking.

For bottom- of- the- table Manchester the game already looks up, with 13 straight losses and no points to their name.