Union secure the Greene King IPA Eastern Counties Plate
With two games in hand
Match Report: Gareth Davis
With a well-attended luncheon in full flow, including Eastern Counties and Norfolk RFU representatives and a host of Norwich Union old boys, including an oversees visitor Nigel smith and Stephen Day , as well as others from our vintage 90s teams, the stage was set for a Union performance and win that would see them clinch the Eastern Counties plate competition with two games to spare taking an unassailable 14 point lead at the top of the table.
An error strewn opening period with uncharacteristic restart and line out fumbles saw Renegades take advantage and score firstly with a penalty then a fine try finished under the sticks to give the visitors an early 10-point lead.
Undeterred, Union started to gain the ascendancy in the tight exchanges with the front five to the fore, led by www.osteostasis.com man of the match Ben Bond-Webster. Good interplay between forwards and backs, with Jon Spicker and Craig Dunbar making ground saw the ball shipped wide by fly half Adrien Marie-Francoise for Tom Whitehouse to cut a great line and finish under the posts. This was shortly followed by David Sheldon-Smillie stepping his way through an unorganised defence to touch down with both tries converted by Marie-Francoise to give Union a 4-point lead at 14-10.
Shortly before half time and following some good kicking from both Whitehouse and Marie-Francoise resulted in an attacking line out near the Renegades line. Which saw a confused rear-guard fail to attack the maul as Matt Spenceley powered through to score and take Union into the break with a reasonable 19-10 advantage.
Coach Gareth Davis gave some words of encouragement and about the team not trying to force sets too much. An improved second half performance resulted, with early replacement of Tom Easton and Joe Nicholson and some powerful runs from Craig Dunbar created problems for our visitors. Despite some strong play from the Renegades, it was the Union defence and well drilled forward pack that gave Union the platform to score further tries through Ben Bond-Webster from the back of a driven maul and captain Simon Pitcher who powered over from short range, both of which went unconverted taking the final score to 29-10 securing another 5-point bonus win and the league title.
After the game Coach Gareth Davis said “There are encouraging signs again of improved back play and decision making as we continue to try and bring more strings to our bow. With consistency in backs selection this will help us to move in the right direction. We have two remaining games in the league at Colchester and Ipswich away, when we will seek to continue our developments both on and off the field as we finish the league campaign. We need availability early to put plans in rest, plenty of time for rest after the final three games of the season, culminating in the cup final on the Diss rugby weekend on 5th May. There is fierce competition for places now so let’s all make ourselves available and put out strong squads for the remaining games”
A word about the Presidents game against Wendons Ambos , which as our cricket friends need the pitch back will be played on the 28th April at Lakenham RFC and while I appreciate the change will be difficult for all to attend, any support will be very welcome. Food will be available for all attending. The game itself will feature predominantly second team players as we have the big cup final the following week. The club is looking to get a bus organised for the Norfolk RFU Big Rugby Weekend, which this year will be hosted by Diss. There will be space for supporters, but please book early as these will be limited. Thanks again for the continued support.
Gareth Davis Coach/President
Team: Chris Spenceley, Ben Bond-Webster, Simon Pitcher, Michael Shucksmith, Ryan Day, Jordan Read, Matt Spenceley, Jon Spicker, Graham Hunt, Adrien Marie-Francoise, David Sheldon-Smillie, Craig Dunbar, Tom Whitehouse, Dan Norgate, Joe Nicholson Replacements: Oli Ward, Staffan Harwood, Tom Easton
Scorers: Tom Whitehouse 1T, David Sheldon-Smillie 1T, Matt Spenceley 1T, Ben Bond-Webster 1T, Simon Pitcher 1T, Adrien Marie-Francoise 2C from 5 attempts
www.osteostasis.com of the match: Ben Bond-Webster