Holt clinch promotion after beating East London in play-off showdown
- Credit: Archant
Holt clinched promotion to London 2NE after producing their best performance of the season to beat East London 31-22 in Saturday's play-off match at Bridge Road.
The visitors dominated the early exchanges and it was against the run of play when Holt opened the scoring as Bruce van Poortvliet sold an outrageous dummy from the back of a scrum and, from 30 metres, ghosted through to score under the posts, with Geoff Flather converting.
Shortly afterwards centre Aaron Tagg made a determined run which led to a try for wing Tom Goose. Although the conversion failed Holt were now ahead 12-0. Then it was the turn of the other centre, Ally Hughes, to make an individual break to score, with Flather again converting.
Just before half-time the score became a fairer reflection of play when a series of concerted drives by the East London forwards led to a try by prop Mantas Urbonavicius.
The visitors were clearly growing in confidence and outside-half Ryan Billinghurst scored a penalty and then the impressive Urbonavicius scored a second try which Billinghurst converted to make it 19-15.
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Two decisive strikes from Holt then secured the game. First, substitute hooker Tim Allen delivered a controlled chip to the corner for James Wyatt to score an unconverted try and next came Holt's try of the season. East London were pressing and a Holt turnover led to a speculative long pass to Goose who was isolated on the wing. But he had the courage and self-confidence to beat three defenders and then run a full 80 metres to score under the posts, with Wyatt converting. The game was secure despite a last-minute try for East London by centre Ben Stern, converted by Billinghurst.
Wing forward Henry Harrison was Holt's Norfolk Brewhouse man of the match.
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Promotion to London 2NE means Holt will join Norwich, a relegated Diss side and London 3EC champions Wymondham next season.
North Walsham rounded off an impressive league season in style with a 49-0 win at a Fullerians side who had been on a good run and needed a bonus point win to have any hope of avoiding relegation.
A close contest was anticipated but that was far from the case, with the Vikings exhibiting a precision in attack and defence their opponents could not match.
The Vikings went ahead after two minutes, James Knight eluding four tacklers in a 40-metre run before making a deft kick which Jim Riley gathered to score.
On 15 minutes it became 12-0. Following quick clean lineout ball Lachlan Brown-Bates' run severely dented the defence and quick hands took the ball to Riley who burst through to score, Matt Hodgson converting.
Over-elaboration cost the visitors some opportunities but 10 minutes from the break they extended their lead. A good chase with Andre Dunn in the vanguard led to a five-metre scrum and Miller came off the back before off-loading to Knight who scored to make it 17-0 at half-time.
Fullerians upped their game at the start of the second half but it wasn't long before the forwards were controlling the set-pieces again and Hodgson kicked a penalty before three tries in six minutes, one converted, took the score to 37-0 with 25 minutes left.
First a trademark 40m run by Brown-Bates took play into the 22 and Knight galloped over. Next Hodgson sold three audacious dummies to score and finally Fullerians tried to clear their lines only for Riley to catch the kick on his 22 and race away for his third. This took him to a club record 27 tries for the season, eclipsing Andy Thorpe's 22.
Two tries for Will Swart, by now on the wing, completed the scoring. The first epitomised the Vikings' attitude: for once Fullerians broke through and a try looked likely but back they swarmed for Hodgson to send Swart away on his 22.
Jake Duffield was Coltishall Red Lion man of the match.
Diss ended a difficult season with a 78-21 home defeat against an impressive Colchester side who have a promotion play-off with Brighton Blues to look forward to later this month. Although generally on the back foot Diss put in a spirited show and were ahead early when John Bergin crashed over and Chris Beaird's conversion made it 7-5.
Colchester then pulled away but the hosts scored two more tries in the second half. Beaird raced through before touching down under the posts and the scoring was completed when substitute Bob Crawford rounded off a neat move, with Beaird converting both.
Champions Beccles rounded off an impressive campaign by winning 45-10 at Colchester III in their final game while Norwich Union went down 27-17 at Cottenham Renegades.
In the Plate North Walsham ended up winning the title by 10 points following a 43-12 win at Bury St Edmunds III.
Neumi Rokodinono scored two of the tries while Alex Holdsworth, Nathan Bensley, Ian Webster, Alex Houghton and Ben O'Hickey also went over, with Dan Goodridge adding four conversions.