Sunday 17th November 2013. Suffolk 12: Norfolk 19
From the outset it was clear that this would be a much more even affair than our last outing in Cambridgeshire. We were presented with a Norfolk side that was well organised and from the outset obviously quite capable.
Suffolk began nervously, but began to put pressure on the opposition with early territorial advantage. Norfolk's early intent to try to clear their lines with a tactical kicking game soon ceased when each kick was comfortably returned, often with interest.
With 11 of their starting line up going to the same school, the Norfolk lads were well drilled in defence and proved very difficult to break down. The same understanding made them very dangerous in possession, able to move the ball quickly to some quality strike runners.
The breakthrough came from a Suffolk scrum outside the Norfolk 22. The ball cycled quickly through the half backs to full-back Faisal Olobooye hitting the line at pace in just the right place to by-pass the Norfolk rush defence. Showing his legendary pace he then outstripped the remaining Norfolk backs on a diagonal run to score in the opposite corner. James Parry converted for a 7 point lead.
Desperate to get back on even terms, there followed a sustained period of Norfolk possession, pushing us back relentlessly. Excellent tackling and defensive play on our line was marred time and again by a high penalty count, giving the opposition too many opportunities to re-group and attack again. Eventually the pressure lead to a converted try to Norfolk.
Following the re-start, with the points even, there followed and excellent spell of rugby from both sides, each showing both creative attacking play and equally stern defence.
Another Suffolk scrum, this time on the left side of the field yielded the second Suffolk try with Tom Scovell taking a line from the blind side wing inside our fly half to pass the Norfolk defenders and again run at pace for the opposite corner. Suffolk lead by 5.
Unfortunately the lead was short lived, as a mistake receiving the restart yielded a scrum in a good position to Norfolk. A pacey Norfolk 10 accelerated through a gap in our line to bring the score back to level. The conversion putting Norfolk into the lead.
The game resumed much as before, Suffolk taking possession and advancing again into Norfolk territory. With half-time looming though the Norfolk 8 surged through our line with an astounding turn of pace to score a break-away try in the corner. Norfolk lead 19-12 at half-time.
The second half began with a determined Suffolk team testing the Norfolk defence time and again with impressive attacking play. Suffolk moved the ball well and recycled quickly to keep pushing the opposition back. A series of quality surges was only marred by the fact that for one reason or the other, we kept giving up the ball through penalties. Never-the-less we found ourselves on the Norfolk line, where they defended well before finally managing to clear.
Again both sides both sides played some fantastic rugby, testing each other to the limit. Norfolk had one further attempt to score down the left wing, but the move was effectively smothered. Both sides continued to defend well.
As Norfolk tired, we again surged forward, looking time and again as if we might break through, only for the move to break down with an infringement. Norfolk were relieved to hear the final whistle, as Suffolk had the better of the second half but the score hadn't been altered.
Well done to the whole squad. This game could have gone either way, and it was an impressive performance against a side with a large group of players who train together on a daily basis. The backs moved the ball well, there were very few handling errors all round and our defence was generally solid. Great work-rate from the forwards, especially man-of-the-match Tom Brown, with plenty of great runs and tackles, and a captain's knock from Aron Miller.
Try scorers: Olobooye (1), Scovell (1)
Conversion: Parry (1)
Cierran Baker-Mortlock, Tom Brown, Joe Colcomb, Joe Cook, Ben Harrington, George Holroyd, Harry Hopkins, Bobby Hopkinson, Aron Miller (c), Troy Palmer, Arthur Romer-Lee, Francois Rossouw, Aldis Salavejs.
Toby Allday, James Bellhouse, Sam Garrington, Callum Hempstead, Jamie Murray, Faisal Olobooye, James Parry, Jonny Sage, Tom Scovell, Jack Simpson.