West Norfolk 15
West Norfolk ground out a hard fought win in their final home match of their 2015-16 league campaign following a second half comeback against Essex-based Wanstead.
Following a weekend off after their cup bye, West were in confident mood as they were able to field a strong squad.
This saw the return of Craig Edwards and centre Lewys Weaver in the backline, with second row Conor Tuck and scrum half Ollie Ridout also featuring in the starting line-up. Captain Jamie Williamson was also back in action at No.8 following the car accident from Wests’ Harlow fixture a fortnight ago.
Despite gaining a heavy victory when away to Wanstead earlier in the season, West were aware it would not be such an easy task this time around. The visitors arrived with a much changed side, having brought in five overseas players since the previous match.
West started brightly with some penetrating runs from fly half Jack Hoyles, allowing them to put their opponents under a large amount of pressure. This culminated in a tremendous burst down the left wing by flanker Freddie Playford, who was finally tackled into touch.
Wanstead were struggling to keep up with the pace of West’s play and a series of penalties nearly opened up West’s account for the day when a Weaver kick at goal ricocheted off the right post.
The West pack were able to get the upper hand in the scrums, but Wanstead counter attacked well with a number of crash balls through their strong runners off the lineout.
However, some cynical play at the ruck area gave Weaver another shot at goal and this time the Welsh wizard slotted the kick to make it 3-0 to the hosts.
Unfortunately, West then sat back and allowed Wanstead to come at them. This spelt disaster as the visitors took the invitation by the scruff of the neck, scoring two tries in quick succession to take a shock 10-3 lead going into the break.
Having had a few stern words at half-time West came out fighting at the start of the second half. Some powerful line breaks from the likes of the Williamson brothers, Jamie and Lee, combined with some fierce rucking from flankers Will Greenwood and Playford, paid off when prop Paul Denton crashed over from a driving lineout to close the gap at 10-8.
Now with the fresh legs of Christian Newton-Walters and Sam Greenwood, West began to speed phases up even more and were almost rewarded when Ollie Ridout dived over, only to be harshly adjudged to have been held up. The hosts’ frustrations grew further when winger Jake Richardson was yellow carded for an infringement around the ruck.
Nonetheless, West continued to pile on the pressure in attack and Denton was rewarded for a fantastic running line to touch down by the posts, Weaver adding the conversion to hand West a 15-10 lead.
Wanstead came back strongly in the last quarter and came close to snatching the win with a missed penalty, but West held tight and were able to close the game out with the narrow victory.
This weekend sees West with another break, before their penultimate league fixture of the season away at Upminster on April 2.
Adrian Flux MoM: Jamie Williamson.