Sudbury 19, Norwich 25
- Credit: Archant
Norwich fought back from 19-0 down to get the win they needed to stay top of London 3NE.
They arrived in Sudbury to discover that the heavy rain, and later sleet and snow, in Norfolk did not travel beyond Bury St Edmunds but their surprise at the good conditions did not translate into a good start to the match.
Playing down the slight slope but with a strong wind behind them Sudbury gave the visitors a significant scare in the first half. After failing to convert an overlap in the fifth minute Norwich were destined to spend the next half an hour pinned in their own 22. In the 16th minute Sudbury created an overlap on the right and winger Smith scored in the corner. Summers was unable to convert from the touchline.
Four minutes later No 8 Lorking found a wide gap to waltz through to score under the posts. Summers' conversion took the home side's lead to 12-0. Within five minutes outside centre Bolton scored again after a missed first-up tackle which Summers also converted, taking the score to 19-0. Sudbury fully deserved their lead and Norwich looked like a side close to panic.
However in the 33rd minute Norwich fly-half Parrott fly-hacked a dropped Sudbury pass through their defence and a neat side footed pass from Brown saw captain David Micklethwaite touch down under the posts. Brother Rob Micklethwaite delivered the conversion and Norwich had pulled back Sudbury's lead to 12 points.
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With the wind and the slope behind them in the second half Norwich started in dynamic fashion. David Micklethwaite caught the kick-off and drove to the Sudbury 22 before the ball was passed to winger Walker who scored in the corner. A fine kick from Micklethwaite hit the crossbar but bounced back onto the pitch but Norwich were now only seven points behind.
It was now Norwich's turn to occupy Sudbury's 22 and six minutes later Micklethwaite kicked a penalty after the Sudbury forwards went offside at a ruck.
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The Norwich forwards were beginning to dominate and after 16 minutes they got another kickable penalty after the Sudbury No 7 used his hands in the ruck which incurred the wrath of the referee who sent him to the sin bin. With the extra forward Norwich called for a scrum rather than kicking the points but after an initial drive they lost control of the ball and Sudbury were able to clear their lines.
Within three minutes the Norwich forwards made three strong thrusts towards the Sudbury line which resulted in Darby, now playing at No 8, scoring a try under the Sudbury posts which Micklethwaite converted to give Norwich a three point lead.
The Norwich forwards, with man of the match Riches frequently in the vanguard, continued to boss their opposite numbers and after another infringement at a ruck 10 minutes before the final whistle were rewarded with a penalty which Micklethwaite kicked from near the touchline.
In the remaining minutes Norwich hoped to gain a further try to give them a bonus point while a rejuvenated Sudbury aimed to regain the lead.
However resolute Norwich defence prevented the home side from scoring again and the visitors left the pitch with the win they needed to stay at the top of the league.