West Norfolk bounce back from last-gasp loss
LONDON 3 EASTERN COUNTIES
West Norfolk 25
Norwich Crusaders 15
Following an agonising last-minute loss to Wymondham the previous week, West Norfolk bounced back with an impressive bonus point victory against Norwich Crusaders at the weekend.
With a strong swirling wind Crusaders started strongly, with a number of powerful bursts from their forwards.
However, second row Adam Fox turned over possession at a ruck, allowing West to counter quickly, setting their potent backline free.
This resulted in a sweet break from centre Matt Clemens, who then released Wilson on the winger to open West’s account for the day.
A number of unnecessary penalties then let Crusaders gain some decent possession and a well-worked phase saw the visitors work the ball out wide to level up the scores at five-all.
Nevertheless, it was becoming evident that the key to victory for West would be to play an open running style against the more forward dominant Crusaders game plan. A promising break up the right wing was stopped by the visitors with a tremendous last-ditch tackle.
Undeterred, West continued to move the ball effectively with some great interlinking play, which finally paid off when scrum-half Dave Harrison squeezed in at right corner.
Crusaders then suffered a yellow following some cynical play at the breakdown.
With West being handed the extra-man advantage they stepped up a gear and almost capitalised when a three-on-one attack ended abruptly after a sloppy pass went astray.
Despite being outnumbered, Crusaders defended well and were rewarded with a penalty to close the gap at 10-8 going into half-time.
Having made some changes, including switching Harrison around with Ollie Ridout at full-back, West started the second period on the front foot.
This pressure finally told when Crusaders had two men sin binned for some indiscipline at the ruck area.
The hosts looked to have made their opponents pay dearly when a powerful break from lock Edney Costa set Clemens away, only to be held up over the try line.
To limit the damage, Crusaders proceeded to work a number of pick-and-goes from the ruck, allowing their forwards to effectively starve West of possession until the sin binned players were back in play.
Finally, a frustrated West managed to steal some scrappy ball from the lineout.
This saw flanker Henry Rust crash through a couple of defenders, before the ball was worked out to winger Rory Jones to score in the corner, making it 15-8.
With the visitors starting to fade a little with the pace of play, West continued to build some exciting attacking phases together, with fly-half Sam Moses expertly conducting proceedings, backed up by a number of penetrating crash balls from the likes of Rust, Covell and Fox.
One such burst from Costa deep in their own territory then set centre Rob Whiteley free through the middle to score West’s fourth try to secure the bonus point.
With their backs against the wall, Crusaders threw everything at West, but the hosts held firm and, thanks to some scintillating counter-attacking from Jones, Harrison and Wilson, they were able to regain the initiative.
A breathtaking break up the left touch line from Jones almost saw Moses cross the line, only to be stopped a few feet from scoring.
Eventually, West notched up their fifth try when Costa crashed over from a close range line-out, handing the hosts a 25-15 win.
Tomorrow, West make the long trip to a strong Southwold outfit.
Adrian Flux Man-of-theMatch: Henry Rust.