West Norfolk 42
West opened their league campaign at home to newly promoted Southwold, who arrived in strength and high spirits having come up as Eastern Counties One champions from last season.
In perfect conditions for fast, flowing rugby, the hosts were confident they could overcome their Suffolk opponents by utilising their pace out wide.
However, West were also wary of the threat Southwold would pose up front, with the visitors starting with a much larger, experienced pack.
West began well enough, building some pressure within the visitors’ half, causing Southwold to give a penalty away at the ruck area. Centre Lewys Weaver converted to hand West an early 3-0 lead.
Undeterred, Southwold came back in kind as they then spent the next 15 minutes camped deep within West’s 22. A series of powerful scrums saw them batter the try line on numerous occasions. West defended tremendously well, but the pressure finally told as Southwold broke free to score and go ahead 5-3 with a quarter of the match played.
West got back on the front foot and after a flowing move out wide, Weaver burst over to score, before converting his own try to give West a 10-5 advantage.
Southwold continued to pressure their hosts up front with several forward crash balls around the rucks, but West were able to soak it up, before another counter attack from the forwards gave Weaver an opportunity to extend their lead to 13-5 with another penalty.
Southwold began to rebuild their momentum with some more hard graft from their forwards at the set pieces. West then suffered a further setback when Olly Denton was sin binned for a high tackle.
Despite some thunderous tackling by the likes of Will Dodds and Ryan Walker, Southwold went over from a close range scrum to cut the lead to 13-10 on the stroke of half-time.
Rejuvenated from the interval, West came out all guns blazing and were rewarded with their second try when winger Jake Richardson finished some clinical handling from the backs to score in the corner.
With the Southwold pack starting to tire, West began to take advantage with some well worked attacking phases through the forwards with Ben Bullock and Christian Newton-Walters making good breaks up the field.
Although floodgates were refusing to burst open for West, they started to creak as Weaver sliced through to score, before Tommy Windibank then crashed over to secure the hosts’ fourth try and bonus point.
Charlie Moore was also having a sublime game at full back, where he was taking the high ball on the counter at pace. Hungry for more, some fast recycling of the ball from Dan Stephenson and Sam Greenwood in the lineouts enabled West to set its backline free once again, with Weaver side-stepping through a flailing Southwold defence to complete his hat-trick.
Not to be outdone, Richardson then rounded off proceedings with a burst up the right hand touchline to grab a brace of tries, Weaver adding the extras to end the day with West 42-10 victors.
This was always going to be a tough first league encounter for West and they fronted up effectively, especially in the second half. In particular, Rory O’Sullivan should be highlighted for his fine performance in the front row.
This weekend sees West travel to Old Cooperians, who were relegated from London North East 2 last season.
Man-of-the-match: Charlie Moore.