West Norfolk 22 Upminster 43
A poor second half display cost West Norfolk RUFC dearly as they went down to high flying Upminster at Gatehouse Lane in their latest London North East 3 encounter.
Despite Upminster, who are currently second place, arriving as firm favourites, West were confident that they could give their visitors a run for their money.
Although missing a few regulars, West were able to welcome back a number of players to the squad, including the likes of Ollie Ridout, Rory O’Sullivan and Yousef Edris.
Following some strong performances in the development team, forwards Edney Costa and Craig Blackmur were also given well deserved starts in the back row alongside the flourishing Ollie Short.
In warm, sunny conditions West began well and encamped deep within the Upminster half. Some fast ball off the lineout saw fly half Mike Hogan slot a spectacular drop goal to the give the hosts the lead. Upminster hit back with a series of powerful drives up the centres, which resulted in two tries in quick succession to take a 12-3 advantage.
Undeterred, West countered and were rewarded when centre Rob Whiteley bulldozed past several defenders to score the hosts’ first try.
A second followed shortly after when some quickly recycled ball enabled club stalwart Charlie Moore at fullback to slice through the defensive line to touch down to the left of the posts.
With West now in full flow, some great line speed in defence put Upminster under severe pressure and an interception saw centre Stephen Asprey accelerate over from the 22 metre line. The conversions by Mike Hogan extended West’s lead to 22-12.
Unfortunately, Upminster scored a try soon after the restart and with some increasingly powerful runs from their centres and back row, were able to assert some dominance in the run of play.
West’s youthful inexperience began to show as little mistakes started to creep into their play, letting Upminster regroup and counter at several crucial points when a score looked on the cards. Having capitalised on this by clawing their way back into the lead, Upminster continued to grow in confidence.
In workmanlike fashion West continued to push forward, and almost broke through on a number of occasions, just to be thwarted at the last by their decision making and reading of the game.
In particular, wingers Will Knox and Billy Goodway, along with forwards Costa, Jacob Chapman and captain Paul Bridges, all fought hard to get West back into contention.
Alas, as the final quarter played out the hosts were unable to break through for a fourth bonus point try as the match ended at 43-22 in Upminster’s favour.
West player/manager, Lawrence Savage said: “Having played so well against a strong side in the first half.
“The lads are naturally disappointed to have not got anything from the game, especially when we all felt we butchered a few scoring opportunities in the later stages.
“Nonetheless, the key is that the players continue on this learning curve. We are showing great potential in patches at the moment and with some more hard work at training the results will start to come.”
West cup games for next weekend have been postponed due to opponents’ fixture clashes.
So West now have a week off before making the trip to East London on October 22.
Adrian Flux Man of the Match: Edney Costa.