West Norfolk 53
West Norfolk returned home in good spirits after a rather chaotic encounter away at Upminster.
The bonus point victory, combined with a heavy 23-0 away loss for Harlow at the hands of Wanstead, resulted in West securing a respectable third place in the league, with just Southwold away on April 23 left before completing the 2015-16 league fixtures.
Although a couple of the regular senior players were missing from the backline, the squad was delighted to see the return of Sam Moses at fly half, with forward Jake Huggett coming in onto the bench thanks to a last minute absence. Unfortunately, the visitors took a blow early on as flanker Freddie Playford was forced to withdraw from the starting line-up during the warm up.
Nevertheless, after an initial stutter, West started brightly as they played facing the sloping pitch and were rewarded for some enterprising play when winger Jake Richardson was set free by a neat pass from full back Dave Harrison. Centre Craig Edwards slotted the extras.
A penalty kick saw the hosts close the gap as they began to hit back to nullify West’s momentum. The North Wootton outfit were frustrated further when Sam Moses was binned for 10 minutes after not releasing in the tackle.
As the half hour mark approached Upminster struck again to take a 8-7 lead. West were immediately let off the hook when an infringement saw one of the Upminster players forcing the referee to give another yellow card. Back on even terms, captain Jamie Williamson led a charge up field, before a driving maul from the lineout produced a try with prop Lawrence Savage crashing over.
As the half-time whistle neared another break from West’s potent backline set Harrison free to sprint through for his first try of the season.
However, West were now in full steam and a free flowing series of attacking phases finished with Lawrence Savage taking the ball from 15 yards out to burst past the Upminster defensive line for West’s fourth. Craig Edwards added the conversions to give the visitors a handsome 26-8 advantage at the interval.
Upminster regrouped following the break and began to put West under some pressure from the restart, but a break down the left touchline from Will Knox ended with the winger gliding over in the corner.
A second yellow for Upminster let West set up another driving maul from Lee Williamson at the lineout, which resulted in their sixth try as Yousef Edris touched down under a pile of bodies.
The fresh legs of Christian Newton-Walters and Jake Huggett in the pack were helping West to keep the upper hand up front, but the ir next score came from a brilliant break through the middle from scrum half Sam Greenwood, which released Craig Edwards to score, before converting his own try to make it 43-8.
With the referee continuing to issue a further three yellow cards over the final quarter of the match, play faltered into a somewhat messy affair. A couple of good driving mauls gave Upminster a quick two tries to reduce the deficit to 43-20. Undeterred, some hard carries from the likes of Rory O’Sullivan, Paul Denton and Will Greenwood helped West get back on the front foot. A break from Jamie Williamson saw the No.8 storm up the pitch to take the visitors’ tally to 48-20.
A further two tries gave Upminster a well-earned losing bonus point, before a seamless break from Craig Edwards allowed West to close the game out on a high.
This weekend sees West travel to local rivals Thetford in the semi-finals of the Junior Norfolk Cup, 3pm.
Adrian Flux MoM: Paul Denton.