Smillie the star of opening day victory
Norwich 20, Upminster 3: Norwich began the new season in fine style as two David Smillie tries helped them beat Upminster.
Pre-season training under new coach Simon Hill had gone well as had the results in the warm-up matches – but the hosts were taking nothing for granted as they ran out.
Norwich were soon encamped on the visitors' line and should have scored from a clear overlap after good work by skipper Jon Wheater. Craig Dunbar appeared to get across the line, only to be called back by the referee for a Norwich penalty. and good defence kept the visitors' line intact.
Both sides were guilty of incurring the wrath of referee Matthaeus Rozier, with a raft of penalties and free kicks being awarded.
As a result the game lost any momentum and Norwich got involved in a dog fight with the larger Upminster pack .
After an attritional 30 minutes it was Rob Micklethwaite for Norwich who broke the deadlock with a well struck penalty from some 35 metres.The game then meandered to half-time with Norwich still 3-0 up.
Whatever was said at half-time by the coaches seemed to do the trick despite the visitors kicking a straightforward penalty three minutes into the second half.
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Norwich got back into enemy territory and were rewarded with the opening try after 11 minutes from a rolling maul set up from a lineout which saw second row Ross Adnitt get the touch down. The difficult conversion into the wind was missed.
Norwich realised that the game was breaking up and by running the heavy visitors' pack around the park they could win it .
David Smillie, who was man of the match, scored a great try when the ball was spread left quickly .On getting the ball the left wing still had a great deal of work to do but he sped past the cover to score in the corner. Again the conversion was missed .
Moments later he scored again under the posts after the ball had gone through several pairs of hands and this time Rob Micklethwaite had no problem with the conversion.
With several replacements taking the field and two yellow cards, one on each side, the game lost its shape.Upminster kept pressing but the Norwich defence held out for a satisfactory win.