Prop Dan Nunn in action for West and left, a Henry Rust try. Pictures: NICK and LIZ AKERS

RUGBY UNION: A victory against Crusaders has given West Norfolk plenty to work on in the run up to  their Senior Vase match.

West welcomed Crusaders to Gatehouse Lane on Saturday in what was always set to be a fiery physical fixture. 

West knew they would need to be on their game to maintain their unbeaten run in the London and South East League. The Division Three Eastern Counties leaders had a few changes ahead of the fixture which didn’t stop them from a 59-22 victory.

Craig Blackmur stepped in at lock, Edney Costa moved to No.8, Stephen Aspery started on the wing and Charlie Moore moved to scrum half. Luke Covell returned and started on the bench next to Olly Denton and Connor Clarke, both of which have had excellent performances in the development side.

The game lived up to its reputation in regards to physicality with huge tackles from both teams. West lost centre Henry Hoyles in the opening few minutes with a shoulder injury and Denton stepped in at scrum half.

West’s lineout showed its dominance early on. Blackmur turned over a Crusaders throw- in giving West vital position and Will Greenwood scored West’s opening try, converted by fly half Sam Moses. 

Minutes later, a blind pass from Denton met the quick hands of full back Mark Tilbrook and winger Stephen Aspery finished well in the corner, Moses converting the difficult kick. 

West’s lineout played a part in the third try with a well worked move and prop Dan Nunn stretched over the line and the top of the ruck to score, Moses converted. Shortly after, a quick ball from the ruck went through four sets of West hands to winger Charlie Moore who scored. West’s experienced winger Alex Singleton got his name on the score sheet and ran a sublime line through the Crusaders’ defence giving West the converted try. 

The half-time score was West 33, Crusaders 7.

The second half started much like the end of the first with Crusaders continuing to build momentum. West looked to their defence to deny Crusaders any foothold. West got the break with captain Henry Rust sprinting for a converted try. Max Rust got a try converted by Moses. West’s final score came from Singleton and Denton added the two extra points to extend West’s unbeaten run to 13 games. Adrian Flux Man of the Match was Stephen Aspery.

Head coach Darren Clarke said: “This game was a good test of the depth of the squad. 

“Those players that came in all stood up and performed well. Our attacking play was outstanding at times and we scored some excellent tries. 

“The game became a little loose in the second half and the only disappointment was conceding four tries for only the second time this season but some credit must go to Crusaders who never gave up.”

Captain Henry Rust added: “We made a great start and played well for the first 30 minutes. After that we probably took the game for granted at times and allowed far too many mistakes defensively. 

“We have plenty to work on over the next two weeks at training ahead of our senior vase game against Hitchin at home on February 8.”

λ Elsewhere in a commendable effort, West’s development side lost to Diss 3rds away after playing the whole first half with only 14 men.