HEREFORD Couriers' Matt James fought valiantly to record his second successive victory in the Herefordshire Cross Country League.

James was pushed all the way around the riverside venue at Rotherwas, while MonRoss Trailblazers' Alice Taylor registered a convincing women's race win.

The fourth and penultimate race in the series was hosted by Hereford Triathlon Club and provided plenty of mud to test competitors.

Former league champion James sped away from the start and soon established a fragile lead as Ludlow Runners' Oliver Perratt tracked his every move.

James had to dig deep to maintain this slender lead but could not shake off the attentions of the dogged Perratt.

The two rivals were well clear of the rest of the field as they concentrated on their own private battle, with James never able to relax for a moment until he crossed the finish line for a hard-earned victory by just three seconds, with Croft Ambrey RC's Gareth Leek over a minute back in a clear third place.

James led his Couriers' team to an emphatic victory with strong support from Thomas Synge-Curtis in ninth place, Ross Cameron in 18th and Jake Underhill 24th.

Couriers' Katie Synge-Curtis, a convincing winner of the previous race at Queenswood, set the early pace in the women's race and looked to be well on track to repeat her success.

However, Taylor had other ideas as she started conservatively on her league debut. Towards the end of the second lap Taylor charged into the lead and pulled clear to win the race impressively by over two minutes from Synge-Curtis, with Croft Ambrey's Gemma Mallett finishing a spirited third.

Taylor's victory made her the fourth different female race winner in as many races this season.

Builth RC grouped well to record a narrow team win, with Mallett leading Croft Ambrey to second place backed by Kelly Bowen in 11th and Emma Jones 13th.

MonRoss Trailblazers registered their best ever women's result by finishing third team.

The final race in the series will be held at Presteigne on Sunday, February 2.