Nuneaton 17 Blaydon 7
Nuneaton got their promotion bandwagon back on the rails with an important victory over second-placed Blaydon.
A month of two defeats and two postponements saw them slip from being unbeaten at the top to third place. They remain third, but now have two games in hand over Blaydon and one over runaway leaders Bradford and Bingley, with both of those teams to face in April; at the minimum, a play-off place looks in prospect.
Given the nastiest of icy gales blowing along the immaculate new surface, together with Blaydon's powerful pack and swift backs, it was a day for the modern parlance of 'winning ugly' and Nuns did just that.
Facing the elements first' they spent the whole of the first quarter in the visitors' half without finding any way through and fly-half Gareth Cull pulled wide a 26-yard penalty which would have been easy meat without the wind.
A penalty then took Blaydon from their own half for the first time and a line-out 20 yards from goal led to a concerted driving maul which put hooker Matt Hall over for the try, Richard Windle converting.
On the half-hour, Cull reduced Nuns' deficit with a penalty and, in the bar at the interval, a sage Geordie pessimist opined that his side could have done with 15 more points.
In the event he was right, if not spot on. Nuns bombarded the Blaydon line without success throughout the third quarter, including ten minutes with visiting No 8 Dave Guthrie in the sin bin, but there were only ten minutes of proper time left before they came good.
Cull converted twice as, first, ex-British Lion Tim Stimpson went over for a try from 20 yards, then prolific teenage left-winger Lee Parry squeezed past the defence in the corner, from a close-range feed by centre Jody Peacock.