Old Cooperians 13
West Norfolk 15
West returned home with a hard fought, if scrappy victory, after making the long journey to face new opponents Old Cooperians at the weekend.
Old Cooperians probably came into the match as slight favourites, having been relegated from London North 2 last season and with home advantage, but West arrived in good spirits following a good second half performance against Southwold the previous week.
A few unavailabilities saw West travel with a changed squad, but with the likes of the exciting Freddie Playford and vice-captain Paul Bridges coming back into the starting line-up, their strength in depth was clearly on show.
West started brightly in a high paced, frantic opening to the match. However, their hosts were working hard at the break down and forced immense pressure onto West, resulting in a few handling errors that prevented the visitors from creating any fluidity in attack.
A West penalty was converted by centre Lewys Weaver after seven minutes to give them a narrow 3-0 lead.
Old Cooperians immediately hit back with some attacking phases of their own, which ended with a penalty opportunity.
Thankfully for the visitors, the kick drifted just wide.
Weaver then missed a tricky penalty after 15 minutes, but with West looking the more likely to break through it seemed only a matter of time before they breached the hosts’ defence.
Unfortunately, due to some slack attacking play, coupled with some frustrating spoiling around the ruck area by Old Cooperians, West’s ball was slowed and they were unable to deal that killer blow.
As half-time approached the hosts finally got on the score board after slotting a penalty to make it 3-3 at the interval.
West attempted to increase the tempo following the break and a flowing move saw fly half Lee Parry cut through the Old Cooperians defensive line, before putting winger Jake Richardson away to go in under the posts. The hosts replied strongly with a series of powerful surges up the midfield as they went over for a try, retaking the lead 13-10.
With time running out, West turned up the heat with a number of fast attacks out wide.
One such sweeping move saw the ball recycled quickly to youngster Playford on the wing, who sprinted in to touch down and seal the win.
Manager Nigel Richardson said: “This was a frustrating game for us as we were dominant throughout most of it, but were unable to cut loose.
“Nonetheless, it’s another tough win on the road and we’ll continue to build for next week.”
Tomorrow sees West host newly promoted May and Baker, 3pm kick-off.
Adrian Flux Man-of-the-match: Freddie Playford.
West’s development side notched up a tremendous 43-7 win against local rivals Wymondham.
Adrian Flux MoM: Yousef Edris.