Norwich treat Beeston Hyrne fans to sparkling finale
NORWICH 38, WANSTEAD 15: Though a dead rubber on paper, with Norwich already certain of third place in London 3NE, Beeston Hyrne's league finale was anything but with both teams showing great commitment to finish on a high.
As a result a big crowd were treated to a scintillating match in glorious spring sunshine with Norwich scoring five tries to demonstrate how effective they can be with good conditions and the ball in hand.
Norwich dominated early on with Wanstead struggling to cope with wave after wave of attack.
Rob Micklethwaite opened the scoring after Wanstead were forced to concede a penalty after illegally stopping a promising attack from the home team. Norwich's first try followed from captain Aaron Swanborough as he broke off from a maul, saw space on the blind side and cantered in unopposed under the posts from 20 yards. Rob Micklethwaite converted.
The next score was an outstanding piece of individual skill from man of the match fly-half Jonny Wheater. After taking play into the Wanstead half, Wheater noticed the defence rushing up and side-stepped his way over from the halfway line, showing tremendous vision and pace. Micklethwaite adding the simple conversion.
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Wanstead got on the scoreboard with a penalty, but Norwich were straight back at Wanstead and in complete control of the set pieces with Gareth Leake and Paul Micklethwaite dominating the air space. Wanstead enjoyed a period of pressure that required ferocious defending to repel, but from a five- metre scrum No 8 Jeremy Walmsley picked up and dived over, the conversion was missed.
Norwich's third try was also scored by Wheater, but was created by good work from the forwards. Determined and vigorous counter rucking by the Norwich pack created turnover ball and Wheater was on the receiving end of a deft pass from scrum-half Josh Ives to angle his run to the corner to perfection, outpacing the covering Wanstead defence. Half time was signalled by Rob Micklethwaite's conversion.
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In the second half, Norwich scored their fourth try early on, when the backs punished some wayward kicking. Rob Micklethwaite collected the ball in midfield, with his trademark sidestep he was able to evade numerous tackles and set up a score for winger Johnnie Coltman, who timed his run to perfection. Micklethwaite converted.
If there was a criticism of Norwich in the second half it was they lacked patience, seeking to score from every play rather than building the phases. After 60 minutes George Pope was replaced by Freddie Cook, who received a warm reception in making his final appearance in a Norwich shirt.
Wanstead powered forwards, helped by Norwich's high penalty count and flanker Anthony Fedele dived over from short range following a quick tap penalty. The try was converted.
But Norwich underlined their superiority with a last try for Martin Cullum. The move was fittingly started by Cook who pounced on a loose ball. Dave Micklethwaite had replaced brother Paul in the back row and immediately had an impact, drawing the cover defence and creating space for Cullum to scorch over from 20 metres. Jonny O'Brien drop kicked the final conversion.