Norwich facing the drop
Thurrock 31, Norwich 14: Norwich's position in the bottom two of London 2NE was confirmed despite a battling display at Thurrock on Saturday - but they could yet escape the drop.
Norwich's position in the bottom two of London 2NE was confirmed despite a battling display at Thurrock on Saturday - but they could yet escape the drop.
The Lions needed to either beat the champions or see Chelmsford lose at home to Ipswich - and as it turned out both results went against them.
As a result they finished the season two points adrift of their Essex rivals - and now all that can save them is the now traditional round of league reorganisations by the RFU.
"All we can do is keep our fingers crossed," said head coach Andy Warnes. "It all depends what happens above us, who goes up and down and what leagues they go into. We might have to wait until the end of April to find out."
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If Thurrock thought that Norwich were turning up to make up the numbers in front of a large crowd there to celebrate they were wrong.
The visitors competed in every facet of the game and but for a couple of silly errors in the middle of the park in the second half this was a game, like many others this season, that they could have won.
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Norwich, playing into quite a strong breeze in the first half, defended magnificently, their cause not helped when Warnes was yellow carded after five minutes.
But they continued to deny the champions for a further 30 minutes until some poor defence saw the home side score two tries in quick succession, one by flanker James Flavin and another - after some woeful Norwich tackling - by prop forward Stefan North, both of which scrum-half Aaron Burns converted.
Just before half-time, when it looked as though the floodgates might open, Norwich scored a great try after a fine run from full-back Ewen Wilson, who gathered the ball inside his own half and set off, beating several defenders. Norwich won the ball from the ensuing ruck and left wing Calum Macaulay got the touch down and fly-half Josh Ives landed a magnificent conversion to make the score at the interval 14-7.
Norwich controlled the first 10 minutes of the second half and looked as though they might come away with the spoils. However the league champions had other ideas and from a dropped pass in the Norwich centre they pounced and centre Ben Madden scored near the posts for Burns to add the conversion. Norwich were then awarded a penalty near the posts, which Ives missed.
Replacement Ben Gorman scored another try after a mistake in the middle of the park, with Burns converting. But Norwich refused to buckle and after a great break from centre Scott Hancocks, Ives went over near the posts and added the conversion to make the score 26-14. The home side wrapped up the game with another Gorman try, which Burns could not convert, to bring the curtain down on a thoroughly entertaining contest.