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.