Massive weekend for West Norfolk as they look to wrap up Eastern Counties Division One title


Rugby. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

West Norfolk will host their biggest game in five years this weekend as they look to wrap up the Greene King Eastern Counties Division One title.

The North Wootton club can lift the championship with a game to spare if they beat Mersea Island and run in more than five tries to pick up a bonus point. That would give West, six points ahead of Newmarket, a five-point triumph and create an unassailable lead at the top of the table. It would also confirm a return to London Three North East for the first time since they were relegated in 2009.

A bumper crowd is expected at Gatehouse Lane and boss Nigel Richardson believes a triumph will signal the start of a new era of rugby in the west of the county.

He said: 'It probably is our biggest game in a number of years, it's there in our own hands, but I'm trying not to big it up too much. All of the lads know the situation.

'We can do the job and it would mean we have remained unbeaten at home in the league all season. It would be great to do it this weekend rather than going to Southwold on the final day – where we haven't come away with much in the last few years – with a lot of pressure on us.

'When we went down it was the end of an era. A lot of older guys were coming towards the end of their rugby days and we've been rebuilding a youthful squad. It's always nice when you are up there challenging.

'And when you're doing well it's easier to attract local players. The lads have worked hard and deserve this chance.'

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Since West leapfrogged Newmarket in the table with a 29-26 win, the title-chasers have lost 33-0 at Southwold and seen their boss Steve Drawbridge hit with a 16-week ban for verbally accusing a match official.

They host West's rivals Swaffham tomorrow knowing their place in the end-of-season promotion play-off against an Essex-based team is being threatened by third-placed Ely's form.

Captain Lawrence Savage said: 'I have no doubt that Mersea will come to us with a strong team, capable of causing problems if we let them.

Nevertheless, if we maintain our concentration and hunger, I know we can dominate our opposition and play our game.

'Do that and the scoreboard takes care of itself. We want to go up as champions. I'm confident that we can be if we want it enough. This is our moment to prove we do.'