RUGBY UNION: West Norfolk hearts were broken when a debatable last-play score robbed them of a stunning London League Two victory over high-flying Stowmarket.
The hosts had worked hard to gain a 10-7 half-time lead and there was no addition to the score in the second 40 minutes.
In the last minute, however, Stowmarket gained vital territory inside the West 22m line. Despite knocking on at the lineout, the Suffolk side stole the ball from the resulting scrum, edging closer to the home line.
Despite some exceptional defending by the West forwards, Stow eventually broke the line and West hearts as they went over to complete a 14-10 victory.
West head coach Aaron Beaumont said: “It was a brilliant team effort with all players putting in a shift in poor conditions.
“We worked incredibly hard throughout the game to match and get the upper hand on a top four side, which shows how far we have come this season in a higher-level league.
“Unfortunately, a few things went against us right at the end, which led to us coming up short of the victory that we deserved.”
The day had started with a minute’s applause from both teams to pay respects to Jack Jeffery, who lost his life while playing for Evesham.
West also remembered Tim Ruane who made an outstanding contribution to the club over a period of more than 60 years as a player, captain, chairman, president and trustee. Saturday would have been his 88th birthday.
In extremely wet and windy conditions the game kicked off with West pinning Stowmarket back in their half.
Hobey Riches caught the ball cleanly at a lineout providing quick ball for Sam Moses and simple hands and an early overlap gave Quinton Houston the chance to use his pace and footwork to speed round the Stowmarket defence and score.
Stowmarket replied with a penalty, using their powerful forwards to catch and drive from the lineout to crash over for a converted try.
Following a handling error, West built phases through carries from Henry Rust and Dan Stephenson, edging closer to the visitors’ try line, allowing No.8 James Dobbler to power over to earn the half-time lead.
Both teams defended valiantly in the wet conditions but cancelled each other out in the point-scoring stakes.
West looked destined to score after a flowing move led by Moses with a final pass to Houston, suspiciously knocked forward, unfortunately missed by the referee.
In the final few minutes, however, it was the visitors who did find their way through to score the winning try.
West Norfolk’s Adrian Flux man of the match was Quinton Houston.
West Norfolk Seconds fell to a 75-5 defeat at their Holt counterparts in Greene King Eastern Counties Division Two North.
West’s only score of the game came from Trundley Man of the Match award winner Ed Spencer.