Norwich made to pay for lapses in concentration in hard-fought clash
- Credit: Archant
Despite the scoreline, this was a closely-contested game between two mid-table sides, neither of whom is going to be relegated or promoted.
The difference was that Norwich had two serious lapses of concentration – one in the first half and another at the beginning of the second half – which cost them dearly. In each of these two periods the hosts scored two tries, the second pair winning them the match.
It was the hosts who drew first blood with prop forward Matthew Bevan strolling over on the short side, the Norwich cover non-existent. The try was unconverted. Norwich hit back almost immediately with a well-struck penalty from fly-half Theo Elliott. The middle of the half took place mainly between the two 22m lines with neither side establishing any dominance.
However, on the half hour Rochford attacked from deep and centre Matthew Stewart touched down, though one has to question some of Norwich's defensive work. He managed to convert to give his side a 12-3 lead.
From the restart Rochford attacked again and some sloppy tackling saw Stewart go over for his second try, which he could not convert.
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Norwich got back into the game, which was threatening to run away from them, thanks to a period of play when they managed several phases and from quick ruck ball Laurence Austin at No8 broke at pace to score halfway out, Elliott missing the conversion. Just before half-time Norwich scored again from a pushover try, again by Austin, but again the conversion was missed, although at 17-13 down Norwich were back in the game.
Just after half-time Norwich failed to exit satisfactorily after the restart. Rochford established a rolling maul and second row Alex Harbrow scored, Stewart adding the conversion. Rochford attacked immediately and again the Norwich first-up tackling was not good enough and full-back Sam Billings finished a fine move to score near the posts to give Stewart an easy conversion.
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At this stage it would have been too easy for Norwich to have thrown in the towel but they kept battling and dominated the last 10 minutes when they were rewarded with a late consolation try from centre Robbie Bridgstock – again the conversion was missed.