RFU Vase: Norwich 17, Hitchin 27
Norwich were not at full strength on Saturday but this was a below par display in the RFU Vase against a lively Hitchin side who soon demonstrated they had not travelled just to make up the numbers.
Norwich did not help themselves by coughing up possession three times in the first five minutes which immediately put the visitors very much in the game. They led after eight minutes with a penalty goal from full back Jack Peachey who kicked excellently throughout.
Despite obvious superiority in the tight scrums Norwich could not convert this into points, not helped by missing a comparatively simple penalty after 15 minutes. The Norwich back division, without Nick Austin and the influential Doug Greenwood, could not get going, as much as Jonny Wheater, playing out of position in the centre, tried to rally them. It was no surprise when Hitchin increased their lead with a try by second row Nick Panton after a short penalty was quickly taken. Peachey kicked a superb conversion to put the visitors 10 points up.
After half an hour Norwich replaced fly-half Chris Parrot by moving Wheater to fly half Jordi Walker into the centre and bringing on Andy Webb on the wing. This galvanised Norwich and they started to put the opposition under some pressure. But from a lost line-out Hitchin increased their lead when Peachey went over half way out and then converted his own try.
Again Norwich came back into the game and were unlucky not to be given a penalty try when first Robert Vivian was yellow carded for persistent infringing and was followed shortly afterwards to the bin by Heinrich Schlehmeyer. With Hitchin depleted Norwich managed a pushover try just before half-time but the conversion was missed to make the score 5-17 to the visitors.
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Norwich brought on JC Brown at scrum-half for the second half with Clark Hindle going to the right wing in place of Ben Liddiard. After 10 minutes veteran Simon Vavasour came on at hooker and Stuart Seppings came on in the second row with Ross Adnitt going to prop and Simon Darby dropping back to No 8. This certainly did not weaken Norwich and they continued to disrupt the Hitchin scrummage but when the hosts conceded a free-kick just inside the opposition's half they scored a good try, moving the ball wide for left wing James Larman to outpace the cover. Hitchin then wrapped up the game when Panton scored in the corner after some poor tackling.
Norwich added two late tries, one another pushover credited to Simon Darby and converted by Brown and another in the dying moments when from a quickly taken free-kick flanker Laurence Austin went over in the corner with Brown just missing the difficult conversion.
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The final whistle went soon afterwards leaving Norwich to concentrate on Saturday's tough league game at Canvey Island.