West Norfolk 60
West Norfolk leapfrogged Cantabrigians into second place following a convincing home victory over mid-table Upminster.
With just three league games to go, the race for promotion is getting ever closer as the North Wootton club’s challenge at the top of the table continues.
A few changes to West saw Paul Denton back into the front row, with the Rust brothers, Henry and Max both coming back into the squad. There was also the welcome return of Dave Harrison, who slotted in at centre after a period away serving abroad.
In good conditions for attacking rugby, West elected to have their visitors face the sun and wind in the first half.
The hosts burst out of the starting blocks and camped themselves deep within the Upminster half in the initial moments of the game, setting the tone with a series of powerful scrummages and quick ball from the forwards. This created space for the talented back line to stretch their opponents out wide.
However, Upminster defended fiercely and were able to hold West from scoring until 15 minutes in, when a penalty infringement allowed Lewys Weaver a chance to slot over a kick to take a 3-0 lead.
This seemed to give West the spark they needed and from the restart a flowing move ended with Weaver cutting through to score, before adding the extras himself.
Another fast paced break from deep then opened the defensive line again, with flanker Neil Thurston showing a burst of pace to touch down. Barely three minutes had passed when fly half Ed Maule sliced Upminster open once more with a superb show and go, resulting in West’s third try, Weaver converting the scores to leave West 24-0 up.
Upminster hit back with some driving mauls from the lineout, but West’s pack held the advances. Weaver then clinically finished off another scintillating backs move to score his second.
With winger Jake Richardson off for treatment, the industrious Tommy Windibank rounded off another West attack, which saw some great hands from the forwards, to notch up his eighth try of the season. On the stroke of half time West forwards collected the ball from the restart and set number eight Jamie Williamson to bulldozer through the trailing Upminster tacklers to score a great solo effort, handing the hosts a 43-0 advantage at the interval.
Upminster came out for the second half with all guns blazing and were rewarded with a converted penalty after some sustained pressure.
During this period it was only some resolute tackling that prevented them from touching down for a try.
West were frustrated further with a seemingly harsh sin bin to Weaver, which saw the hosts reduced to 14 for 10 minutes.
Undeterred, they struck back shortly afterwards with a series of powerful surges around the rucks from the likes of Denton, Will Dodds and Paul Bridges. Having punched their way close to the line, the ball was taken on by captain Lawrence Savage on a crash ball to score on the left hand side.
As Upminster started to tire they began to give away more penalties for infringements around the rucks, which also saw them a man down with a yellow card. With West now dominantly controlling the scrums and possession, Harrison cut through after a lovely inside pass from winger Alex Singleton to score his first of the season.
Weaver completed West’s account with another deadly strike from out wide, converting his own try to end the game.
Tomorrow sees a break in league action. However there is a Comic Relief charity game this evening, where West Norfolk 3rds play host to a West Norfolk Teachers’ side. 7.30pm kick off.
West’s next league game sees them at Harlow on March 21, in what promises to be a real humdinger of a match.
Tulip Man of the Match: Jamie Williamson.