Fakenham hold their nerve for last-gasp win
Thetford 36 Fakenham 38
Fakenham edged a tense high-scoring London EC3 league game on a dry breezy afternoon at Thetford Rugby club.
In footballing terms, these two well-matched mid-table clubs served up a true game of two halves.
The first half saw Thetford make the most of their chances as Fakenham allowed too many errors in their play to spoil the flow of their attacks.
Thetford raced into a 10-point lead with a converted try and a penalty kick.
Fakenham responded with an unconverted try through Ashley Stewart on the right, but Thetford regained the ball from the kick-off and attacked deep into the Fakenham half to score a converted try under the posts.
The visitors rallied and, after what seemed like ten phases of play, a sharp move by the backs saw Jack Whiteside pick up a pass off his toes to dive over and score Fakenham’s second try, converted by Tom Bane-Young 17-10.
Thetford scored their third try to take the score to 24-12 and half-time followed shortly afterwards.
Fakenham supporters, hoping for a rally in the second half, were disappointed when Thetford scored their fourth converted try of the game within two minutes of the restart to lead 31-12.
A quick response from Fakenham saw a try of their own wide out on the left from Murray Tindall.
From the restart, the Thetford number 12 once again challenged the kick-off, jumping high above the static Fakenham defence to claim the ball.
The Fakenham defence held the attack at bay but was finally breached to concede an unconverted try.
Fakenham, however, still believed in themselves and continued to attack.
They were rewarded with a converted try from Jordan Walker with Bane-Young kicking the extras.
The home side made it difficult for the visitors with a stern defensive line and Fakenham were forced to fight for every single bit of possession.
After Bane-Young tried to cross the line, but was adjudged to have been short, the following scrum saw man-of-the-match Rob Ward force his way over to score another try, converted by Bane-Young to make it 36-31 to the hosts.
Fakenham now believed the game could be theirs and, after pushing deep into the Thetford half, attacked up the right through Bane-Young.
The Thetford defence held him up but a slight of hand offload to Rob Ward wrong-footed the home side and he was in for his second try.
The conversion was now crucial with the scores tied at 36-36.
Captain Bane-Young placed the ball and steadied himself before sending the kick though the middle of the posts to edge Fakenham ahead for the first time in the match.
Time was running out in the game but Thetford were not going to lie down and they threw their full force behind their own attack.
But Fakenham defended well and turned over the ball and attacked when the home side conceded another penalty and this allowed the visitors to run the clock down and clear for touch.
Fakenham skipper Bane-Young said: “I could have given a man-of-the-match to all 17 players but Rob Ward just edged it for his work off the base of the scrum and his general work rate."
Fakenham have a well-earned rest this weekend and return to action the following week with a home game and lunch when Wisbech visit for a league derby.