Norwich 16, Basildon 35
Norwich went into their fixture with high-flying Basildon knowing only a win would be enough to keep their slender promotion hopes alive – but they ended up a well beaten side.
With a proud unbeaten home record, Norwich approached the game in a confident frame of mind but the inclement conditions restricted their hopes to play an expansive game and favoured the heavier, more forward-orientated style of the visitors.
Norwich gave a first team debut to Dave Micklethwaite, who started in the back row alongside brother Paul.
The hosts found themselves pinned back deep in their half early on and Basildon opened the scoring with a penalty before increasing their lead after Doug Greenwood was harshly penalised for over-vigorous tackling.
A stern talking to from captain Aaron Swanborough stirred Norwich into action.
Confident recycling resulted in a half break by man of the match Jonny O'Brien but the opportunity went begging before Rob Micklethwaite halved the deficit with a successful penalty.
Having forced themselves back into the game, Norwich conceded another penalty before opting for a line-out from a penalty of their own. Following a powerful surge their ambition was well rewarded as a blindside move caught Basildon out and Paul Micklethwaite romped over for a try.
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The game ebbed and flowed for a while but sustained Basildon pressure eventually took its toll and their powerful No 8 breached the defence to score under the posts.
Basildon upped the tempo of their game from the restart, moving the ball left and right across the field looking for gaps and eventually they created sufficient space for their nippy left winger to scuttle down the touchline and score in the corner. This was the final action of the first half, making the score 8-21.
Norwich started the second half brightly and Rob Micklethwaite converted a penalty to close the gap.
But elementary handling and strategic errors allowed Basildon back into the game. Careless errors and strong running from the pack enabled Basildon to offload in the tackle to support runners, sending the outside centre under the posts for the decisive score.
By this stage of the game, Norwich were surviving on scraps of possession but they had one final roll of the dice.
From a clean line-out, the Norwich forwards flexed their muscles, driving their opponents back some 40 yards. Basildon were forced to transgress and their flanker was shown a yellow card for collapsing the maul. From the resultant penalty, Norwich moved the ball wide and Jay O'Brien was dragged down inches short of the line but the hosts recycled, creating space for Johnny Wheater to score a consolation try in the corner.
Basildon had the final word in the closing stages as their pack trundled over for one final score.
Norwich could hold their heads at the end but will rue the elementary errors they made and the lack of discipline shown.