Junior Vase: Wisbech 25, Billericay 17
Wisbech put themselves within four games of a Twickenham final – but they had to survive a scare.
The Greene King Eastern Counties Division One high-flyers looked to be romping into the quarter-finals as tries from Phil Martell, Andy Claydon and Shane Vickers helped them into a 25-0 lead with 20 minutes to go. But Billericay suddenly found their feet, running in three scores of their own to set up a nervy finish.
The crowd had to wait just four minutes to see Wisbech cross as Jon Turner made the break before delaying his pass perfectly to send Phil Martell crashing over. Mark Laws slotted the conversion.
This lead became 10-0 moments later as Wisbech were rewarded for more pressure with a Laws penalty.
Laws notched his second penalty of the day to give Wisbech a 13-0 lead at the interval.
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The break seemed to give the hosts renewed vigour and it wasn't long before Wisbech had a second try to celebrate. A prolonged spell of pressure on the visitors' try-line ended when scrum-half Claydon picked the ball up from a ruck, sold his would-be tackler a dummy and dived over. Laws added the extras and Wisbech had one foot in the quarter-finals at 20-0.
With 25 minutes remaining Joe Barfoot replaced Mark Laws – and the speedy full back's surging run and precise pass released captain Vickers, who sprinted in for a try. Claydon missed a tricky conversion but the game seemed as good as over.
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Wisbech, however, were in for a shock. Billericay, who had looked in abysmal form for an hour, suddenly sparked into life, setting up a tense conclusion by scoring three tries, one of which was converted. But as the minutes ticked away, Wisbech rediscovered their composure to repel Billericay's onslaught.
• Southwold 3 Cantabrigian 33
Southwold bowed out of the Junior Vase after a brave show against the Eastern Counties Division One leaders, with Elliott McDaniel kicking their consolation penalty.
'We were ravaged by injuries and couldn't put out the side we would have liked so it was always going to be tough against a strong side like Cantabs,' said head coach James Alvis. 'They deserved to win but the lads worked hard and stuck to their task well.'