Harwich & Dovercourt 18, Wymondham 16
Wymondham travelled to Harwich for the only fixture played in the Eastern Counties League on Saturday – and suffered their first defeat since the opening weeks of the season.
Whereas Wymondham's pitch was under fresh snow it was a pleasant surprise to find the conditions reasonably mild in Harwich. Although there were puddles where the snow had melted on surrounding surfaces the pitch itself was in fairly good condition.
Wymondham had travelled with 15 players plus two coaches, no doubt because many wrongly assumed the game would be cancelled. So they had to start with two backs as the only cover from the bench, which made their task harder from the outset.
Wymondham applied the early pressure which was rewarded when, after a good break by Steve Simms backed by Alex Wigney, a penalty was awarded which Simms converted. But after 10 minutes the hosts pounced on a loose ball and their winger scored a good try in the corner which was converted to make it 7-3.
The rest of the half was a tight affair which did not seem to favour either side. The home side tried to use weight advantage to further their cause but stout defence by Dane Canning, Dave Blake, Henry Petch and Josh Wright gave just enough ball for Onisimo Sagakalele, James Wyatt and Harry Anderson-Brown to show their skills.
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Before half-time Wymondham reduced the arrears when good work by Nick Ferns and Andy Mackay resulted in another penalty by Simms to make the score at the break 7-6.
Straight from the kick-off to the second half Harwich tried to pressure Wymondham into playing in their own half, but some excellent line-out work by the forwards allowed Anderson-Brown to feed Simms and release the backs and, after good work by Sagakalele and Ferns, Alex Brugger was released in space to score a good try near to the posts which Simms converted to make the the score 7-13.
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The weight advantage which the Harwich forwards had eventually led to a try by their prop which was unconverted and brought the score to 12-13. And the pressure lasted long enough for their winger to drop a good goal to put them in front 15-13.
Lack of forward cover was telling on Wymondham as Harwich could rest forwards when necessary. To compensate they brought on the fresh legs of Tom Wilson, a centre, to play on the flank and he helped a pack that was carrying injuries. Good pressure by Wymondham earned them a long range penalty which Wyatt made look easy with a wonderful kick to put his side one point ahead.
Wymondham were trying to get the backs more into the game and this was so nearly rewarded when, after some lovely handling, Wigney was only denied a score in the corner when a valiant tackle was deemed by the referee to have stopped him.
The last five minutes saw fatigue play a part as a penalty was awarded and missed by Harwich before another infringement even nearer in the last two minutes gave the hosts a chance to snatch victory.
Wymondham extended their advantage at the top to eight points with this losing bonus point although Ipswich YM in second have now two games in hand.