RUGBY UNION: West Norfolk kicked off a new year with a hard-fought victory over Wanstead to double their win tally for the London League Two season.
West came out on top 20-14 on Saturday in what can only be described as a mud bath, following heavy rain during the early morning.
It left head coach Aaron Beaumont delighted with the commitment his team had shown, praising the way they had defended towards the end of the game when tiredness was creeping in.
“We played well and controlled the game in the first half against a strong and determined defence,” he said.
“We struggled to keep the ball a bit in the second half but defended really well as a group with tiredness creeping in a bit in the second half.
“That led to an increase in penalties and three yellow cards but we managed to hold on for that all important win.
“I was very pleased with our work rate and the efficiency in both red zones, taking our chances and halting numerous attacks on our line.”
West fielded one of their strongest line-ups of the season as they welcomed back Jamie Williamson and Michael Skinner to the bench.
West received the ball facing the wind and started strongly, retaining possession for a number of phases.
Strong carries from James Dobbler and Adrian Flux Man of the Match Tane Dunn established West inside the Wanstead half for significant periods and the pressure eventually paid off with a penalty coolly converted by full back Sam Moses.
Despite the boggy conditions, the West backs continued to attack the Wanstead line but the visitors held firm.
Changing things round, fly half Jack Wicks spotted space behind the Wanstead defence and neatly chipped the ball over the top, with Moses on the receiving end.
With nerves of steel, Moses offloaded for Dunn to score between the posts, giving West a 10-point lead following the conversion.
In the closing minutes of the half Dunn again provided a moment of brilliance. After a number of quick rucks, Wicks passed the ball wide to Dunn in limited space and, with the slightest of touches, he grubbered, recollected and then dove over in the corner for West’s second try to make it 15-0 at the break.
With the wind at their backs, West were hoping to finish off their guests. However, Wanstead had other ideas.
Despite West’s attempts to play a territorial game, Wanstead attacked relentlessly with ball in hand, matched by a monumental defensive effort from West.
Tackles from Will Greenwood, Charlie Moore and Joe Lewis-Mitchell denied tries on a number of occasions.
Eventually West took advantage of some ill-discipline at the ruck and kicked for a home lineout, close to the Wanstead five-metre line.
With a clean catch and drive led by Conor Clarke, Henry Rust found himself with ball in hand at the back of the maul, eventually scooting over for what seemed like the killer blow.
Again the visitors had other ideas and soon found themselves camped on their own five-metre line with attack after attack coming from the visitors.
West showed ill-discipline of their own with Wicks being shown a yellow for the team accumulating penalties.
Again defended their try line with millimetres to spare but a further two yellow cards to Clarke and Costa reduced the hosts to 12 players at one point.
With minutes to go, Wanstead forced their way over the line and from the kick-off ran wide, taking the space created by the lack in numbers, brought the score within six points.
Fortunately for West they were able to turn the ball over at the resulting kick-off and held on until the final whistle.