RUGBY UNION: West Norfolk are through to the next round of the RFU Senior Vase after seeing off the challenge of county neighbours Thetford.
The 21-15 victory at Gatehouse Lane secured a trip to Woodbridge on Saturday, November 30.
West Norfolk coach Tom Jones was delighted with the progress his team continues to show and said: “Thetford were the toughest defensive side we have faced so far this season.
“They were very physical and well drilled, however, we had enough in attack to overcome the challenge.
“The lads showed their increasing confidence and character as a squad to overcome the challenge and continued to play the style of rugby we want.”
A bruising encounter saw West stand firm to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season with both teams looking to progress in the RFU Senior Vase. West knew that Thetford would bring a well drilled, physical side and it would take a huge amount of resilience to see off Thetford and maintain their 100 per cent record against their fellow London Three Eastern Counties rivals.
The level of physicality in the match was evident from the off with Thetford using their big forwards to smash into West’s defence, trying to generate quick ball.
Big tackles from West’s back row of Harry Robb, James Dobler and Will Greenwood were needed to keep Thetford out. However, the pressure told when a penalty was conceded to gift Thetford an easy three points.
West realised patient possession would be key and after a number of carries by lock Edney Costa and prop Yousef Edris, they began to build pressure of their own.
After creating an overlap out wide, fly half Sam Moses span the ball wide and after quick hands by the West backs, winger Stephen Aspery was able to score in the corner.
Thetford replied with a try out wide before Moses kicked a penalty to bring the scores level.
Despite eye-watering tackles from captain Henry Rust and No.8 James Dobler, Thetford built pressure again, forcing West to defend inside their own 22m, and it paid off when they scored a converted try to earn the half-time advantage,
Club stalwart Jamie Williamson and the colossal frame of Adam Fox were brought on at the interval and the changes immediately paid off.
Fantastic carries by Williamson and Adrian Flux Man of the Match Yousef Edris gave Dobler the chance to crash over the Thetford line.
With both teams beginning to tire after a bruising 60 minutes, discipline started to falter with both teams giving away penalties at the breakdown.
Moses took advantage to kick a penalty for West, taking them a point ahead with 15 minutes to go.
With both teams throwing the kitchen sink at each other and tired legs having their effect, West got the breakthrough.
A number of short pick and drives from West edged them closer to the Thetford line and Dobler was on hand to take a short offload and burst over the line, securing victory.
West have chance to recover this week with a free date in the league calendar tomorrow. The Seconds will, however, be looking to maintain their winning record when they welcome North Walsham Thirds to Gatehouse Lane, 3pm.
West Norfolk Ladies took to the field on Sunday afternoon in the Women’s National Championship One Midlands against Lutterworth Ladies.
In a game of end-to-end rugby with both teams answering each others’ scores up until the final whistle, the game ended all square at 19-19.
West’s forward of the match was Rosie Lingham and back of the match was Zoe Sharp. Their next game is on Sunday against UEA.
To complete a fantastic weekend of rugby for the club, Sunday saw West Norfolk host their annual mini rugby festival.
Teams from across the county travelled to North Wootton, showcasing the future talent of rugby.
Despite the wet conditions, more than 200 players from the ages of u7s to u12s played on in high spirits with some exciting talent on display.
The club thanked a brilliant team of volunteers, parents, coaches and supporters who made the day possible.
With 51 teams attending and more than 1,000 children, parents and supporters involved, the club was bursting with cakes, sweets, hot dogs and most importantly hot drinks.
Cold hands through the age groups grasped wet balls and hugged them to make a break in the rain for the line.
Each age demonstrated the core values of rugby from teamwork to respect of each other and the officials to compete in slippery conditions.
This was sportsmanship from the returning of a tag to a helping hand from a tackle to enjoyment easily seen by the eagerness to return to the pitch.
West Norfolk chairman Graham Woodcock said: “It was a massive weekend for rugby at West Norfolk. Our youth and mini section, with a fantastic band of volunteers, once again fulfilled our well-deserved reputation for organisation and friendliness.”