Injury takes gloss off Norwich rugby win

Norwich made it two wins and two defeats after four games in London Two North as they handed Tabard their first loss.

Norwich 31, Tabard 3

Norwich made it two wins and two defeats after four games in London Two North as they handed Tabard their first loss.

But their victory was not without its cost as young scrumhalf Sawford was seriously injured during the move which led to Norwich's second try - causing a 20 minute delay while he was cared for.

The pattern of play was established in their first few minutes as Norwich moved to within 10 metres of the Tabard line only for the visitors to relieve the pressure with a penalty kick to touch.

Norwich established forward domination in the set scrums with Everitt and Swanborough confirming the pre-match suspicion that the Tabard front row was a potential weakness.

The Norwich forward play in the loose was ferocious and, when Turner dispossessed Tabard at a maul, he fed lock forward Dolding to link with O'Sullivan. The young centre broke through several defenders on a 20m run, but his final cut in took him away from the support and Tabard were able to halt the attack.

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The Norwich pressure continued with great second phase ball retention added to the bonus of Leake and Dolding establishing superiority in the line outs.

Tabard's relieving kicks found O'Brien and Statham to be excellent on the counter-attack and play was taken back to the visitors' 22.

After 20 minutes Tabard began to show the reasons for their unbeaten run. They took play into the Norwich half and were awarded a penalty for a technical infringement.

Jack Reilly narrowly missed that kick but was successful after 24 minutes when Norwich were penalised at a ruck.

The response came two minutes before the interval from a quick tap penalty.

Statham broke free and took Norwich back into Tabard's territory for Arbuthnot to break off and score his first senior try from a rolling maul.

But the first half scoring wasn't finished. Arbuthnot again broke clear down the blind side, supported by Sawford and Smilley, and when the attack was halted Norwich forwards won the second phase.

The ball went back via Harris and O'Sullivan for O'Brien to score a try which he also converted to give Norwich a 12-3 interval lead.

It was during that move that Sawford was injured, delaying the second half as paramedics, doctors and an ambulance team cared for the young scrum-half.

When the second half started the lack of Sawford's tenacity and rapid passing had clearly weakened the home team.

But they broke the deadlock after destroying a Tabard scrum and disrupting their lineout for Arbuthnot to break out, take on two defenders and slip the cleverest of passes to winger Statham, who completed the task to score.

Norwich now led 17-3 and maintained their pressure. Norman charged down a Tabard kick, Dolding spun a pass to Harris and slick handling enabled Ball to score. O'Brien converted.

A period of frantic Tabard attacks was met with positive Norwich defence which was quickly turned into attack as Dolding fed winger Statham, who ran fully 40 metres to touch down. O'Brien converted to wrap up a well deserved victory.