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Norwich 7, Lowestoft & Yarmouth 13

PUBLISHED: 00:05 03 March 2011

Norwich's Jonny Wheater in the thick of the action against Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

Norwich's Jonny Wheater in the thick of the action against Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

Archant

League leaders Lowestoft and Yarmouth secured a narrow victory in a thrilling derby game fought out by two teams of contrasting styles and played in good spirit in front of a large vocal crowd.

With their juggernaut pack the visitors played a tight power game which has seen them destroying teams while Norwich were looking for the open spaces to get their backs and more mobile forwards into.

Norwich will consider this a game that they really should have won. For the most part they stopped Lowestoft and Yarmouth playing their normal game but dropped passes in scoring positions cost them in the end.

The forwards were outstanding all game, standing toe to toe with the biggest pack in the league. The front row of Whiskin, Snowling and Swanborough, although giving away many kilos in weight, gave their opposite numbers a lesson in scrummaging technique. The rest of the pack, and particularly man of the match David Micklethwaite, 17, matched them all the way by cutting the L & Y ball carriers down before full momentum had been gained.

The backs, ably lead by Jonny Wheater, were just as resolute, tackling players twice their size and denying L&Y scoring opportunities.

It was certainly a test for the young L&Y team, who found themselves in a dogfight for the first time in months, and it was to their great credit they came back from behind, and then dominated territory in the second half to record a pleasing win, as proven by their emotional reaction at the final whistle. After some recent heavy victories, it was actually more beneficial to win a hard close game for the team’s morale.

With the visitors’ head coach Scott Nelson ruled out through injury, Norwich didn’t take long to test his 17-year-old fly-half replacement Tom Dare. A long touch-finder took play inside the L&Y 22 and from the line-out Wheater broke through numerous tackles to power his way over between the posts, allowing Rob Micklethwaite an easy conversion.

L&Y then enjoyed a period of momentum, using their maul to good effect. Confusion resulted in an equalising try when No 6 Si Atkinson was penalised on five metres and called over by the referee for what everyone assumed was to be a yellow card. Callum Cashman went again and burly hooker Chris Howe smashed over the line at pace after had Norwich stopped playing. Russ Chapman converted to level the scores.

Norwich had some promising periods deep in Lowestoft territory but some speculative long passes into the stiff breeze caused the moves to break down and pressure to be turned round. From one of these passages Lowestoft were awarded a penalty for offside to the left of the posts that was easily converted by Chapman.

In the second half play again swung first one way then the other but it was very fragmented, with errors coming from both sides in the tricky conditions.

Lowestoft looked to maul the ball whenever they had the opportunity but Norwich had more opportunities through the backs, with poor handling letting them down.

Lowestoft were awarded a penalty on the 22 that Chapman had no difficulty converting for the final score of the game. Norwich continued to press for a converted try which would have won the game, moving the ball wide at every opportunity, but the visitors held out.

As a result of this hard-fought win L&Y retained a four point lead at the top of table over Basildon, who they visit next week in what looks like being a mouth-watering title decider.

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