Mens Match Reports

Southwold Mens 1st XV v West Norfolk Mens 1st XV 44 – 7

West Norfolk made the long away trip to Suffolk side Southwold on Saturday, retaining much of their starting squad from the previous week against Ipswich YM but also welcomed back captain Jack Wicks, with Dom Hubbard, Josh Nelson and Cameron Bennett stepping up as finishers on the bench. 

West kicked off and on a traditionally small pitch, Southwold began to put early pressure on. Captain Wicks led by example and supported by Dan Stephenson and Luis Costa, repelled the host’s attacking efforts with some textbook chop tackles. Unfortunately, this committed defensive play would see Wicks taking a significant friendly fire blow to the head, ending up with him going through the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocol and retiring from the game to be stitched up. West’s troubles soon worsened with a yellow card to Costa for a high tackle and another early injury, this time to stalwart Sam Moses. 

Southwold immediately took advantage, scoring two unanswered tries in quick succession to take a 14 point lead. Fly half Olly Denton and Hayden Revell attempted to mount a fight back, but despite a spirited effort, West could not gain the necessary momentum. Leading up to half time, West appeared to recover with No.8 James Dobbler and centre Jamie Williamson beginning to make dents in the host’s defence, seeing West force a penalty that full back Quinton Houston kicked to bring them within 10m of the Southwold try line. However, a fumble by West gave Southwold the ball and they would break through the attack, earning themselves a further three points through a kicked penalty. Southwold then added a further penalty before excellent work at the scrum by West prop Will Allen won the visitors another chance at a penalty. Revell opted to take a quick ‘tap and go’ play to run the ball 20m down field, improving West’s position on the field, before he made a pop pass to Dobbler who was,  in turn, taken out with an illegal tackle from one of the Southwold players. West took the kick for the lineout on the Southwold 5m line, but a resolute defence meant that the hosts held their line, welcoming the half time whistle.

The second half saw West start with much more energy and once again, Dobbler made yards to get West on the front foot following an early scrum before offloading to Revell, with Houston then being brought down illegally again by a poor Southwold tackle, earning West a kickable penalty. Unfortunately, luck would not be on West’s side as Revell’s kick rebounded off the upright and fell into the hands of the hosts. West put pressure on Southwold in their own half, forcing yet another penalty, with an accurate kick by Houston giving West a lineout on the Southwold 5m line. This time, through the safe hands of Dan Stephenson, West set up a perfect catch and drive play and with admirable patience, eventually West drove over the line for a try converted by Revell. 

Unfortunately West’s momentum would end here. With the game turning scrappy, including seeing two yellow cards being issued for West and one for Southwold, then slowed all the play down and the hosts took advantage of their superior numbers. Despite a courageous effort by the remaining West players, Southwold ran in four further unanswered tries before the final whistle would bring the game to an end. Adrian Flux man of the match was James Dobbler (sponsored by Trundley Group). 

West Director of Rugby Darren Clarke commented afterwards: “The long away trip to Southwold was once again beset by unavailability due to injury, work and holidays. I cannot fault the efforts of all those that came in but we struggled to cope with the physicality of the opposition. Again, we had very little luck losing captain Wicks in the first five minutes and then Moses shortly after. Three yellow cards also put us on the back foot”

“There were positives to take, especially the last 10 minutes of the first half and first 20 minutes of the 2nd. A new lineout functioned well on its debut and the players remain positive for the rest of the season.” 

Next week West 1sts are at home to Ipswich whilst the 2nds host Norwich Medics. 


West’s Men take the win at home

West Norfolk 17 v 0 Ipswich YM

West Norfolk kicked off 2024 against Ipswich YM who, earlier in the season, West had only just managed to beat with the final kick of the game in the reverse fixture. With very wet conditions and knowing that YM have a reputation for being a very physical team, West knew they would need to switch on from the start if they were to avoid the game turning into a battle of attrition. West bolstered their squad with returns for Dan Stephenson, Jamie Williamson and Edney Costa whilst Hayden Revell captained the side in the absence of an injured Jack Wicks.

West started well from their kick off, playing the game at a high tempo, forcing Ipswich YM to scramble their defence on a number of occasions. Revell made a smart break down the right wing, getting within 5m of the try line; however, Ipswich turned the ball over and West was caught offside, releasing the early pressure on the visitors. Soon after, West forced Ipswich into conceding a penalty in midfield, with the hosts choosing to kick for the corner instead of a probable three-point score. A scrappy lineout squandered West’s chances for more, leaving the scores level at nil – nil.

The first quarter continued to be dominated by West with a strong scrum led by the front row of Chin Newton-Walters, Will Allen and Luis Costa providing a base for Revell and his back line. Williamson and No.8 James Dobbler made big carries into a resolute YM defence but West could not quite finish their chances and the first half ended with Ipswich making a dangerous break into the West half, with West fighting to clear their lines, leaving the game scoreless at the whistle.

With the temperature dropping and worsening pitch conditions, Ipswich missed an early penalty, shortly followed by a yellow card for the visitors after a dangerous tip tackle. With the numbers advantage, West began to test the Ipswich defence and saw carries from Williamson, Rocco Jones and Lewis Rudd eventually forcing a mistake and a penalty from Ipswich, which Revell confidently kicked through the posts.

This would spurred West on, and with fresh legs on the field in the form of Conor Clarke and Alex Miles, West began to build momentum deep in the Ipswich half. A smart break by full back Quinton Houston, offloading to Josh Burgess on the wing almost got West over the try line, but a turnover provided Ipswich with a chance to clear their lines.

A scrappy clearance from the visitors was then collected by West in the midfield before Williamson found space to run, getting to within 8m of the Ipswich line before offloading to a supporting Connor Clarke who grounded the ball in the corner, with Revell successfully converting a very difficult kick.

With the game becoming scrappy and rucks becoming equally-matched battles, West disrupted Ipswich possession on the half way line. A subsequent quick ball from scrum half Eddie Crewe to Revell caught Ipswich scrambling, and a dummy pass to Dobbler, running at full speed, split the visitor’s defence and a final pass to the dynamic Connor Clarke saw him get his second and final try of the afternoon; Revell once more converting.

A final yellow card for the visitors after being blown for having hands in the ruck added to their woes, and West saw out the game as victors.

Adrian Flux Man of the Match was Jamie Williamson (sponsored by Briarfields Coastal Hotel).

Head coach Darren Clarke commented: “This was a hard fought but deserved victory against an opposition side that always give everything. Although we dominated the first half, our decision-making and lack of patience led to us being scoreless at half time. In the second half we were a little more ruthless and it was pleasing to score a couple of good tries, although we did miss out on a few more good chances. Most pleasing was our defensive effort to keep a clean sheet. The gloss was taken off the victory with yet another leg fracture and we wish Jacob Chapman a speedy recovery”.

Next week the Men’s 1st XV make the long away trip to Southwold whilst the Men’s 2nd XV team are away to Crusaders 2nds.

 


West Norfolk Men’s 2nd XV 8 v 10 Crusaders 2nds

 

West Norfolk 2nds took to the pitch at home in the new merit league designed to ensure rugby is played regardless of player numbers, showing up for an energetic contest against Crusaders 2nds. A scoreless but evenly fought first half saw both teams fight for possession and territory before things would heat up in the 2nd half. Crusaders opened the scoring with the visitor’s prop crashing through from short range, but this would not deter West who would continue to search for a score.

Eventually, West fly half Stewart Rigby stepped up and coolly slot over a penalty for a much deserved three points. West continued to dominate possession and search for their second score, eventually leading to an example of smart footwork from Phil Towers that saw him weave his way through the Crusaders defence,  dotting the ball down for a try and opening up a three-point lead for West.

In the final few minutes, Crusaders patiently made their way down to the West five metre line and eventually their patience paid off, with West conceding a penalty. A quick tap by Crusaders allowed for a short range carry, crashing over to steal the win with moments to spare.

The 2nd XV team now travel to Norwich medics on Saturday 2nd of December.

 


West Norfolk Men’s 1st XV 17 v 27 Shelford 2s

 

West Norfolk welcomed league leaders Shelford 2nds to Gatehouse Lane on Saturday, knowing that they would need to pull out one of their best performances of the season to beat a side who had so far only lost once and already have eight try bonus points to their name. With both Lewis Rudd and JJ Hart unavailable in the forwards from the previous week, West welcomed back Nic Bull and Alex Miles. In the backs, George Lemon’s absence would mean that team captain Wicks would move back into the centres and Olly Denton would start at fly half.

A competitive first few minutes saw both sides tussling for possession. West’s scrum operated much more efficiently and this provided quick ball, enabling Wicks to make numerous dangerous runs into the Shelford half. A short period of possession for Shelford resulted in West conceding a penalty just inside their 10m line, which the Shelford fly half easily kicked over for 3 points.

Shelford showed why they have the most try bonus points in the league with their attacking game, looking dangerous at every opportunity. The defensive effort for West was led by No.8 James Dobbler, and absorbed the pressure for a number of phases before forcing the Shelford fly half to kick over the West back line, only for the visitor’s winger to fumble. With ball in hand, full back Hayden Revell and center Sam Landles linked up, running the ball back deep into the Shelford half. With Shelford scrambling, they gave away a penalty at the ruck and without hesitation, Dobbler tapped and went, driving over the try line from 5m out to open West’s account for the afternoon, with Wicks converting.

The try lit a fire in West who began applying pressure to Shelford’s defence all over the field. Penalties began to flow for the hosts, although Wicks narrowly missed one from out wide before coolly kicking the next one over to open the gap to seven points. With Stewart, Jones and Bull carrying hard for West, Denton took to the boot to put pressure on the Shelford back three. Eventually a handling error was made by the visitors and scrum half Bateman pounced on the ball, only to be held in the tackle, meaning the referee awarded West a penalty just inside the Shelford 22m line. Bateman opted to tap and go down the blind side, offloading to Denton, and the experienced No.10 calmly stepped two defenders and scored close to the right touch line, with Wicks then adding the conversion.

With half time looming, Shelford were by no means going to lay down and allow West to have an easy ride. Using their pace out wide, Shelford began to test the fringes of West’s defence and build momentum with a number of strong phases. Taking their time, eventually the league leaders found themselves close to the West Norfolk try line and panicking slightly, West gave away two penalties in quick succession, with Shelford opting for the scrum on both. On the second scrum,  Shelford’s no.8 picked up the ball from the back of the scrum and using his strength, crashed over the line for a try. The final few minutes before half time would see both sides battling for territory with Denton continuing to pepper the Shelford back 3 with kicks. The half time whistle went, with West on 17 v 8 Shelford.

One hoped that the momentum of the first half and a lively Gatehouse Lane crowd would spur West on to continue their fine form from before half time, but unfortunately this would not be the case and Shelford went on to show why they are in the position that they are. With a largely quiet third quarter, the back three trio of Burgess, Crewe and Revell nullified the Shelford threat out wide, forcing the visitors to carry hard up the middle of the park. As the half ticked on, eventually a Shelford lineout created quick ball for the Shelford center to then hit a smart line, splitting the West defense and touching down just to the left of the posts. With now a two-point gap in the scores, the game was in the balance but it would be the league leaders who tipped the scales in their favour.

Despite great work from Chapman, Nunn and Newton-Walters in the front row of West’s scrum, they could not get the rub of the green from the whistle and Shelford went on to capitalise on a quick tap penalty to take the lead with minutes to go.

From the restart, Shelford continued their onslaught and marched their way back down to the West 5m line. With the host’s seemingly trying to cling on for a losing bonus point a huge defensive effort from Stewart, Dobbler and Wicks denied Shelford any easy scores and eventually West was rewarded with a turnover and a kick for touch to relieve the pressure. However, in the final few minutes West was cruelly put to the sword, with a smart interception following a West lineout resulting in an easy run-in for a Shelford back and another bonus point win for the league leaders. FT West 17 v 27 Shelford 2s. Adrian Flux man of the match was James Dobbler (sponsored by Trundley Design).

Head coach Darren Clarke commented: “For the third week running we were competitive with a team currently in the top 3 in the league but once again we came away with nothing to show for our efforts. We are currently lacking some belief and confidence, and we need to react better when opposition sides have a good period of play or when decisions don’t go our way. Having said that there were plenty of positives to take away from the game and the performance was once again a step up from the previous week. Squad depth is improving and hopefully with more players returning in the next few weeks we will see more cohesion moving forward.”

West 1sts now have a week off before travelling away to Cantabrigian.


West Norfolk 10 – Wymondham 20

West Norfolk welcomed fellow Norfolk side Wymondham to Gatehouse Lane on Saturday, in a fixture that has been very closely contested in recent years. Wymondham went in as slight favourites, given their positive start to the season and multiple player signings over the summer.

West started with a front row of Nunn, Chapman and Newton-Walters, with Tim Bateman would start at scrum half and Morgan Smith welcomed back into the side on the wing. With the weather making for poor playing conditions, both teams shared early possession and stayed relatively conservative in their style. Tim Bateman controlled West’s forwards confidently, whilst the backs adapted to the conditions, keeping the ball close wherever possible. An unforced error by West gifted Wymondham a penalty, which would be the only score in the first quarter, with West’s Sam Landles, George Lemon and Lewis Stewart keeping the defensive door shut.

Despite some excellent, patient play by West, the hosts were unable to take their chances and it wasn’t long before Wymondham took advantage of a missed tackle to score a simple try and extend their lead to 10 points. A nasty-looking injury to a Wymondham player saw play stopped for several minutes, allowing West to compose themselves and come back out to immediately put pressure on Wymondham. This phase of play then ultimately saw Captain Jack Wicks coolly slot over a penalty for West just before the half time whistle.

West knew that they needed to start confidently to get themselves back into the game, however, an error at the restart immediately gave Wymondham attacking momentum and 10 phases later, the visitors ran in an easily converted try right under the posts. A combination of handling errors and torrid weather conditions again thwarted West’s efforts to get into the visitor’s territory, keeping West in their half for long periods. Despite the errors, West’s set pieces operated much more successfully than in previous weeks, with the scrum holding firm and the lineout operating well under the guidance of JJ Hart. Wymondham kicked a penalty to add to West’s woes, however, West then started to play with more positivity and flair, with strong carries coming from Chapman, Williamson and Landles.

A yellow card to centre George Lemon did not deter West, who continued to fight for a score. Eventually, the improvement in West’s set piece would pay off – a fantastic catch and drive in the middle of the lineout set up a driving maul which was eventually brought down cynically by Wymondham near the line, with the referee awarding a penalty try as a result. With weather conditions worsening, West was unable to capitalize on the swing in momentum and Wymondham would cling on to a three-point victory, but with West taking away a losing bonus point.

Adrian Flux Man of the Match was Tim Bateman (sponsored by The Sparkle Oven Cleaning Company.)

Head coach Darren Clarke commented afterwards: “This was another game in which we were competitive but eventually came up short. On a difficult day weather-wise, it was important to minimise mistakes; unfortunately we made too many crucial ones and were punished by a good Wymondham side as a consequence.”

“However, there were positives to take from the game. Our set piece is steadily improving and the penalty try was testament to the hard work we are putting in. We finished strongly after going 20-3 down and never gave up. We will continue to learn from our mistakes and as we reduce individual and team errors, we will see results improve”.

Next week West travel to 2nd placed Bury St Edmunds 2nds. A huge thank you also goes out to Mark Shinn who kindly donated a Leicester Tigers shirt which was raffled off raising £135 towards the Club’s future developments.


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