LUDLOW RFC head coach Mikey Jones believes the fixture programme in the run-in favours his side after watching them turn a three-pronged title race into a two-horse affair.

Ludlow’s 28-14 victory over third-placed Wolverhampton last weekend stretched the Midlands Two West North leaders’ cushion to 13 points over the West Midlands outfit with just five games left.

That leaves second-placed Tamworth – six points behind Ludlow after squeezing a win over Walsall – as their main title rivals, with the two meeting on the season’s penultimate weekend.

And while Ludlow are all but assured of at least a promotion play-off match – the reward for the runners-up – Jones is convinced they will finish the season as champions and go up automatically.

This Saturday’s home game with Newcastle marks the start of three matches against sides in the bottom half and Jones said: “The target is to win these next three games.

“They are huge and we want to try to get maximum points from all of them. If we achieve that, it puts us in a really strong position.

“Tamworth have some very tough games (Camp Hill, Crewe & Nantwich, and Leek, all in the top six) and, fingers crossed, by the time we go there, we could potentially be champions already.”

Jones, though, is not taking this weekend’s visitors for granted, adding: “Everybody wants to knock us off our perch and we have to play the way we did on Saturday every week.

“When we played at Newcastle earlier in the season, they pushed us all the way but, on our home pitch, we take some stopping.”

Ludlow were pushed hard by Wolverhampton and their victory was fashioned on solid defence and lightning fast attack from turnover ball.

Wolverhampton went ahead with an early penalty but Ludlow responded within a minute as a clever kick through from Will Hodnett was pounced on by full back Joe Doyle and Will Sparrow converted.

Two further Wolverhampton penalties put the visitors 9-7 ahead but, crucially, Ludlow regained the lead right on half-time.

Sparrow hit a penalty into the corner and, after Ludlow won the line-out, Will Norton’s pass allowed fly-half Kieron Pinches to dart inside his opposite number and reach over. Sparrow converted.

Ludlow established some daylight after the break as Charlie Doyle muscled over from the back of the scrum and Sparrow’s conversion made it 21-9.

Joe Doyle chased another Hodnett kick over the top for Ludlow’s fourth, bonus-point, try, which Sparrow converted from the touchline.

Wolverhampton did manage to pull back a consolation try after two Ludlow yellow cards but that failed to take the lustre off a fine win for Jones.

He said: “We were definitely good value even though we had to do a lot of defending.

“They were the best side we have faced this season but we shut them down and we were in control for most of the game. We played in the right areas and stopped them playing in our 22.”