Entertaining pre-season run out
Youngsters demonstrate potential
The Bulls were made very welcome to Thetford on a bright sunny day, which the hosts had designated as a family day to bolster numbers in the stands.
With many of the squad absent with the continuance of weddings and holidays, the hosts also kindly lent Ives five players for the bench to give them the opportunity to rotate players over the 80 minutes. Thus, special thanks to Jason, Luke, Sharpey (theirs not ours), Phil and Mike for their efforts.
The absences gave the chance for players to press their cases for places in the first league match of the season next week, with another opportunity this Wednesday versus RAF Marham at the Chicken Shack.
The attitude of the visitors was positive throughout. The lineout marshalled by the returning Adam Scott functioned very well. Tom Margetts and Sam Tuckwood did well there. The scrum, anchored by Pete Hammond in the front row for the first time for many a month following injury, and Jason stood firm.
Second rower Duncan Williams, dragged from a quiet Saturday in the bar, put in some resounding hits. Kris Wright clearly put in a good shift as he was still aching on Sunday.
Behind the scrum, George Peacock had an outstanding game at scrum half. He not only conducted his No.9 duties well, but was ever-ready in support of both defence and attack, rewarded with two tries. The first followed a superb break by Mickey Drake. The second came after sharp thinking by John Naylor, who tapped a quick penalty, almost got to the line himself, but managed to find Peacock with his pass.
The midfield of Drake, out of position Naylor (watch out, Paul Ashbridge) and Jack Blackley went well. This was best demonstrated when the ball was moved smoothly wide, releasing Ben Fleming to skip past two tackles and score in the corner. Buoyed by the score, Fleming also showed resilience with some much improved defence against a well-practised Thetford three-quarter line.
Tom Riches and Rob Carrington both worked hard on the wing. And the returning Russell Warrington showed flashes of both his attacking skill and wall like defence until his new boots caused his feet to suffer too much to continue.
Quintillian Johannes, the new match day physiotherapist, was kept busy throughout the match, the most unfortunate being when Blackley, running at full tilt in support of a promising attack, appeared to be shot in the back of his leg. After such a good pre-season, he now anxiously awaits the prognosis to determine recovery. Also, Lotfi Nemouchi sadly lasted only a few minutes as he did not manage to remove his jaw from the line of fire early on.
With the waft of the preparing hog roast clearly distracting some players who wanted to leave the field to prepare for post-match action, it was left to Vets to score a cheeky try, dribbling the ball up the right wing to dot down towards the end. It capped a fine personal performance.
Drake converted two of the tries, also enjoying a fine game.
Coach Brown was happy with the outing. “We competed well for the majority of the game and showed excellent attacking intent. Yes, we let in a few tries, often as we had some novice players playing out of position. But, the guys can be proud of their attitude and performance. And the hog roast and free pint were both splendid.”