Thetford 31 Norwich 34: Late Hamilton try seals dramatic semi-final win for Norwich
PUBLISHED: 15:38 24 February 2019
A late try from replacement flanker Andy Hamilton earned Norwich a place in the final of Norfolk Senior Cup after an exciting tie at underdogs Thetford.
The result was harsh on the home side who probably deserved the win, having found their visitors in the same stuttering form of recent weeks with a high error and penalty count. Thetford certainly put in a performance that belied their position in the league below.
Norwich opened the scoring from their dominant scrum, working the ball through the hands to Rob Micklethwaite on the wing who beat his man and passed inside to Jonny Wheater to score under the posts, with Jonny Payne adding the conversion.
Norwich were swiftly reminded that Thetford were serious opponents as they scored almost immediately from the restart when a hanging ball was re-gathered by captain Josh Clark and the move was finished off well in the right corner by Malik Lock.
Payne and Will Martin then exchanged penalties before a magnificent run from Martin following a tap penalty ended with Ryan Gardiner finishing in the corner. An excellent kick from Martin went over and the hosts were 15-10 ahead.
Norwich got their noses back in front through a penalty try after the under-pressure hosts had illegally halted a close range scrum.
The see-saw nature of the game continued as Martin knocked over a penalty and Payne followed suit but Thetford were ahead at the break after making their height advantage count at the restart. They made ground and scored beneath the posts with a pick and drive from prop Aaron Stokoe, with the conversion taking the score to 25-20.
Norwich upped their game in the second half and had almost all of the territory but failed to make it count.
Thetford added a penalty to their tally before having a player carded for pulling down a maul from a lineout in sight of the line. Norwich opted for a scrum and Dave Micklethwaite broke from the back and went over to score, with Payne’s conversion reducing the deficit to just one point.
Thetford stretched their lead with an excellent drop kick and things were starting to look desperate as the home side, sensing victory, controlled the game well.
But following a yellow card to the hosts Norwich mounted one last charge from halfway and a nice interplay between the forwards and backs reached Hamilton who found a rare hole in the defensive line to score under the posts. Payne added the conversion to give the visitors a three point lead.
Tom Lloyd caught the crucial restart ball and Norwich set up a few phases until time was up and the ball was kicked off the park. Their reward is a final against North Walsham, who got there via a walk-over from Diss.
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