RUGBY UNION: There was a twin triumph for West Norfolk on Saturday at county rivals Thetford.
The 28-23 London & South East League Three Eastern Counties win completed a derby treble but also put them through to the final of the Norfolk Intermediate Cup.
West had already beaten their Breckland rivals twice at home in the league and RFU Senior Vase but were again given a tough challenge in the double-header fixture.
With a strong wind blowing against them in the first half, West needed to battle hard.
An early penalty put the hosts ahead as West struggled with their discipline, gifting Thetford good field position.
Eventually big carries from Adrian Flux Man of the Match Dan Nunn and Luke Covell helped West to regroup and they began to string phases together as they adapted to the conditions.
Winger Stephen Aspery was put away in the corner for the visitors’ first try and Alex Singleton soon added a second after decent hands from the West back line.
Thetford then took advantage of some individual errors and ran in two converted tries to earn a 17-10 half-time lead.
With the wind in his favour, fly-half Sam Moses kicked a penalty for West, only for Thetford to match it.
The visitors tried to play their usual running rugby but again errors crept in, giving Thetford chances to extend their lead.
Excellent defence from Harry Robb, Sam Mount and Max Rust nullified that threat before stand-in captain Jamie Williamson powered his way over for a try converted by Moses to level the scores.
West’s difficulties were made worse with injuries to both Henry and Jack Hoyles, however, substitute Connor Clarke proved his worth by putting in an excellent defensive performance.
Full back Charlie Moore put West in front, using his agility and pace to weave round the Thetford defence, before the boot of Thetford’s fly half again put the game in the balance.
Continued pressure at the breakdown gave West a kickable penalty and Moses obliged to give West breathing space and maintain their one-point lead over Cantabrigian at the top of the table.
Head coach Darren Clarke said: “This was a tough victory and we were perhaps fortunate to come away with the points.
“A tough Thetford side made life difficult, adding to individual errors and ill-discipline, which really put us on the back foot.
“Having said that, our character and commitment again saw us through and our determination to continue the winning run was evident in the closing stages when the game could have gone either way.”
Captain-for-the-day Williamson added: “We took a while to get into the game and struggled to find our rhythm.
“We didn’t win in the way we would have liked but we should be proud that we pulled together as a squad when it mattered most.”