London 2NE: Braintree 5 Norwich 29

Norwich hat-trick hero Laurence Austin puts his best foot forward during Saturday's victory at Brain

Norwich hat-trick hero Laurence Austin puts his best foot forward during Saturday's victory at Braintree. Picture: Andy Micklethwaite - Credit: Archant

While Norwich came away with a bonus point win to stay top of London Two North East, this wasn't one of their better performances.

At times they seemed to struggle to adapt their game to the heavier pitch while it was to Braintree's credit that they played with considerable spirit until the final whistle. The visitors' cause was not helped by second row Mark Fernie being injured during the warm-up, causing changes to be made earlier than was expected.

The first score of the game came after Braintree were penalised at the scrum. The penalty was kicked downfield for a Norwich lineout and the ball was fed to George Pope who skipped through two tackles to feed Dave Micklethwaite to score, the try being converted by Jonny O'Brien.

Both sides were having problems at the scrummage but Norwich did manage to string together a good passage of play which saw some good interplay between forwards and backs to find Gareth Leake lurking on the wing where he secured the pass to dive over in the corner, the kick being missed.

The game deteriorated somewhat at the start of the second half with both sides conceding numerous penalties.Following a penalty against Braintree for a high tackle the ball was spread wide to Michael Campton–Smith who made a break to take the ball into the Braintree 22 where the home side were again penalised, this time for going over the top.

Norwich opted for a scrum and drove over for Laurence Austin to score. Braintree responded well and moved the ball back upfield where sloppy defence and a charged down kick saw them kick through to touch down.

Norwich resisted another Braintree attack and turned the ball over, moving it out quickly to Joe Tennant who scorched through several tackles to almost reach the Braintree line.

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He checked and fed inside to Campton-Smith, who was tackled but managed to pass to Austin who scored to the left of the posts. The conversion was missed.

The final score gave Austin his hat-trick when he followed up a great break from Rhodes to score in the corner.

Overall the game was quite scrappy – partly due to the conditions it must be said – and with Diss set to visit Beeston Hyrne on Saturday, Norwich know an improvement is essential if they are to record another positive result.

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