Defeat at high-flyers tough to take for Norwich

Jonny Wheater touched down by Norwich as they went down at South Woodham Ferrers.

Jonny Wheater touched down by Norwich as they went down at South Woodham Ferrers. - Credit: Andy Micklethwaite

Norwich put in strong performance against the joint London Two North leaders and were unlucky not to take something from the game.

As the main playing surface was waterlogged the game was switched to a junior pitch, short on width and length, and this suited the home side's style of play.

Norwich started strongly and went ahead after only three minutes when Jonny Payne and Chris Parrott combined to feed Jonny Wheater, who cut a perfect line through the defence to score under the posts. Payne kicked the conversion to make it 7-0.

The visitors continued to pile on the pressure but South Woodham Ferrers held firm and Adam Brown slotted over a penalty to reduce the arrears.

More pressure came from the home side and Norwich were under siege and performed some heroic defence to stop what looked like two certain tries when first Payne and Phil Buckley held the hosts over the line and then Robbie Bridgstock and Josh Wilson did the same. Eventually the defensive line was broken when, from a five-metre scrum, Brown broke blind and scored wide out and then kicked the conversion.

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Norwich hit back immediately and after several phases of play were awarded a penalty that Payne kicked to make the score 10-10 after 36 minutes. Having got back on level terms Norwich made a hash of the kick-off and after more good defensive work eventually gave away a penalty on the stroke of half-time which Brown kicked.

The second half ebbed and flowed like the first but South Woodham Ferrers took their chances and kept the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties from Brown to make the score 19-10. The Norwich pack began to tire from their defensive efforts against a much bigger set of forwards as full-time approached. They gave everything to try and get a losing bonus point but it was the hosts who had the final say when their No 8 crashed over from a five-metre scrum in the corner.

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The final score did not reflect the game and Norwich will feel aggrieved that their efforts did not bring the reward that it deserved. Playing on the small pitch suited South Woodham Ferrers and hindered Norwich, who wanted to play with width and tempo.

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