RUGBY UNION: West Norfolk were unable to exact revenge on a Diss side that won the reverse fixture by five points earlier in the season as they went down to a 23-20 loss at Gatehouse Lane on Saturday.
With injuries once again plaguing West, coach Darren Clarke would be forced into a few positional changes that would see Olly Denton move to full-back, Sam Moses taking up his traditional position at fly-half and Connor Clarke and Lewis Rudd moving into the back line.
Captain Jack Wicks, pictured right, also rejoined the side after suffering a nasty head cut at Southwold.
Kicking-off, West struggled to find their rhythm in the opening few minutes with Diss capitalising on early mistakes and narrowly missing an early penalty to take the lead.
Home skipper Wicks spotted an opportunity intercepting a loose pass and storm down the pitch to get West within 10 metres of the Diss line.
Despite being caught by the Diss winger, West’s Josh Burgess provided excellent support which enabled Wicks to offload and Burgess dived over to open the scoring and Hayden Revell converted.
The home side looked to build upon their try with flanker Jamie Williamson and winger Connor Clarke carrying well.
The West front row operated very well in the scrum, supported by the back row pairing of Edney Costa and Dan Stephenson to continue the pressure on Diss.
Eventually, West earned a scrum penalty in front of the posts, however, an unexpected quick tap was held up just short.
Swinging the ball wide, West’s efforts were again be denied by a last-ditch tackle causing West to knock on resulting in a Diss scrum.
West scrum-half Revell stole the ball back to provide fly-half Moses with quick ball against a scrambling Diss defence.
After three phases, full-back Denton found Burgess to add the home side’s second score of the afternoon.
Unfortunately, West Norfolk’s dominance ended there and a missed tackle would open the door for a Diss centre to run through for their first try.
A yellow card for Lewis Stewart added to West Norfolk’s woes and after a couple of phases Diss went over for a converted try to give them a two-point lead at the break.
Injuries to both Denton and replacement Nic Bull didn’t help the home side’s cause and a penalty saw Diss increase their lead to five points.
A yellow card for the visitors gave West Norfolk hope before centre-turned-hooker Lewis Rudd spotted a gap to go over and level the scores.
Both sides threw the kitchen sink at each other but the game was decided by the referee’s whistle with Diss being given a penalty almost directly in front of the posts, which they duly slotted home.
Director of rugby Darren Clarke said: “It was disappointing to lose a game that could have gone either way. At times we played some very good rugby but we did not always capitalise on our territory.
“I was pleased with the commitment of all the players and there was clear improvement in some of the areas we worked in training. “The depth of our squad continues to be tested and a couple of concussions and a broken collar bone on Saturday will again hit us hard in the coming weeks.”
Adrian Flux man of the match: Josh Burgess (sponsored by R & L Engineering Ltd).
Tomorrow, West Norfolk travel to high-flying Wymondham while the 2nds are at Crusaders 2nds.