London 3NE: Sudbury 16, Norwich 22
Norwich came away with a hard-fought victory from the London 3NE match postponed from the previous week because of the tragic death of Sudbury player Josh Rix.
Norwich had 17-year-old Chris Parrott at fly-half partnered by Peter Donell at scrum-half, who was playing his first game for the club for over a year although he has been playing at university.
Simon Darby returned at No 8, having been out since picking up a wrist injury in last month's win over Newmarket.
Norwich started sluggishly, looking like a team who had not played for a fortnight. It was Sudbury who drew first blood when fly-half Tom Summers kicked a simple penalty to give them an early lead after five minutes. In the early part of the game it was the hosts who looked more dangerous when they had the ball though it has to be said that ball retention on both sides was poor.
Slightly against the run of play Norwich took the lead when Darby intercepted near the Sudbury 10 metre line and ran in unopposed to score near the posts. Jay O'Brien added the conversion.
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The game lost some of its pattern when the referee decided after an altercation among the forwards to give yellow cards to Darby of Norwich and Sudbury second row Andy Curry. Norwich were dominant up front as a result but could not make their superiority pay.
Five minutes after the yellow cards the referee gave Sudbury hooker Stuart Wybrow his marching orders for punching which again disrupted the home side. Norwich got themselves into the Sudbury 22 from a penalty and from the ensuing line- out got a rolling maul going and David Micklethwaite got the touch down. Jay O'Brien added the conversion with a great kick from near the touchline. However Norwich could not add to their tally and the score at the interval remained 14-3 in their favour despite having seemingly scored again. Left wing David Smillie touched down from a beautifully weighted kick from Parrott only for the referee to judge that Smillie had knocked on when the ball had appeared to come off his knee.
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With Simon Atkinson on for Micklethwaite after the break Jay O'Brien added a penalty in front of the posts made easier as the referee marched Sudbury back ten metres for backchat.
Norwich should at this stage have been looking for total dominance but it never happened. Too many wrong options were taken and time and time again Sudbury were let off the hook. As a result Sudbury grew in confidence and forced Norwich back to their own line where only desperate defence kept them out.
Norwich drove the Sudbury pack off the ball at a five metre scrum only for the ball to be fly hacked into the arms of Summers who wrong footed the defence and scorched over under the posts. He added the simple conversion to put Sudbury right back in the game.
Norwich to their credit responded with the try of the game when young centre Jordy Walker made a great break just outside his own 22 and the move was carried on down the touchline for flanker Matt Cartwright to take an inside pass from winger Calum Macauley to score half way out. Parrott missed the conversion.
This rather took the sting out of Sudbury who managed to add another Summers penalty before the final whistle which Norwich were glad to hear after a spirited second half performance from the hosts.