Norwich 7, Upminster 3
- Credit: Archant
A second half try from Scott Hancocks earned Norwich a narrow win that kept the pressure on London 3NE leaders South Woodham Ferrers.
The clash against a side one place behind Norwich in the league was played in changeable weather conditions, with spells of bright sunshine interspersed with heavy rain, hail and snow showers which made life very difficult for the players.
The pitch was in very good condition at the start of the game but got progressively more challenging as the showers increased.
The early pressure came from Norwich who were awarded a penalty in front of the posts after nine minutes but Brown scuffed his kick. Thanks to their forward effort Norwich continued to be the dominant team for the next 20 minutes but were unable to turn their pressure into points as handling errors resulted in missed scoring opportunities.
As the half progressed Upminster gradually gained more of the ball but were unable to break down the resolute Norwich defence and at half-time the score remained 0-0.
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Within four minutes of the restart the Upminster scrum earned their side a penalty in front of the posts from which they scored.
However the referee then yellow carded the Upminster centre and six minutes later Norwich centre Hancocks took advantage of the absence of his opposite number to intercept a looped pass and race two thirds of the length of the pitch to score under the posts. His try was converted by Brown and Norwich took a slender four point lead.
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For the next 15 minutes the weather deteriorated dramatically and both sides recognised that with increasingly cold hands the battle needed to take place up front.
Norwich continued to have most of the territory and following a long kick by full-back Wheater nearly managed to score again after a series of rucks and mauls in the Upminster 22.
However, with seven minutes to go Norwich captain Dave Micklethwaite, who had another fine game, was yellow carded for going off his feet at a ruck and with the extra man Upminster began to exert further pressure on the home team.
The Norwich forwards with, man-of-the-match Si Darby in the vanguard, were determined to hang on to their hard-earned lead and their defence held until the final whistle. The last kick of the game came from Jonny O'Brien whose attempted drop goal would have deprived the visitors of their losing bonus point but the muddy ground made drop kicking extremely difficult and the kick went low.
Norwich continue to share second place with Wanstead but will hope to reduce the season's net points difference of 20 between the two clubs when they play bottom placed side East London at Beeston Hyrne next Saturday.