RUGBY UNION: A three-year jinx was put emphatically to bed as West Norfolk marched to the top of the London & South East Leagues Three Eastern Counties table.
A 46-16 win at Crusaders saw West stretch their winning start to the league season to four matches and brought a rare victory at the Norwich club.
Playing downhill in the first half, West made it clear from the off that their defence would be much better than in previous years, with some huge hits early on from James Dobler and Sam Mount.
West piled on the pressure, swinging the ball wide for Joe Lewis-Mitchell to gain good ground into the home half.
A smart charge down by fly half Sam Moses earned him a try, which he converted.
A number of quick off-loads from Max Rust and Paul Bridges set lock Sam Mount free for another converted try. Centre Jack Wicks then used some nifty footwork to make his way around the Crusaders defence for West’s third converted try.
The hosts pulled back a converted try but the visitors’ response was swift with full back Mark Tilbrook using his pace and strength to power over the line for a try out wide.
James Dobler then found space after a number of off-loads to cross the line for another try, converted by Moses, who kicked a penalty to give West a 36-7 half-time advantage.
Crusaders threw everything at West after the break but the defence held firm, with great tackling from captain Will Greenwood, centre Henry Hoyles and a standout performance from Adrian Flux Man of the Match Dobler.
Henry Hoyles scored for West after a powerful carry, taking two Crusaders defenders with him before the home side began to use the hill to their advantage.
Ill-discipline crept in for West but, despite the onslaught by Crusaders, West continued to take their chances with scrum half Hayden Revell scoring from a quick tap penalty before Crusaders grabbed a late consolation effort.
Team manager Damien Fish said: “The team showed absolute composure to get the job done in what we knew would be a tough fixture.
“Crusaders tried to get under our skin on a number of occasions but the boys held their nerve and discipline.
“There were so many positives, especially our defensive effort, which kept Crusaders out on a number of occasions.
“We still have the odd issue to iron out but the guys played some fantastic rugby, which was reflected in the score line.”
West take a break from league action tomorrow when they welcome Thetford to Gatehouse Lane in the RFU Senior Vase, 3pm.
West Seconds were also in action at Crusaders’ Little Melton ground and made it a confident double with a 42-7 success.
In a dominant display, Craig Blackmur earned the man of the match award as West reinforced their position at the top of Green King Eastern Counties Three North in style.