Upminster 27, Lowestoft & Yarmouth 56
L&Y are five points clear at the top of London Division 3NE after a thrilling victory in horrible windy conditions in Essex.
Unexpectedly, the game turned out to be a 12-try feast of entertainment which regularly dished up both appalling and sublime rugby, several laughs, some dirty play and quality sledging and a deserved red card.
As proof of the brand of rugby L&Y are developing, their eight tries were scored by eight different players, from the front row to full-back.
With Basildon only beating bottom club Wisbech 17-10 the result stretched L&Y's lead at the top, though the Essex side have a game in hand and Norwich are hovering ominously in third spot.
L&Y played with the wind and slope to start, and soon got on the scoresheet after a charged clearance set up position for them to lay seige on the goalline. Man of the match Callum Cashman was held up over the line after the first of his many powerful bursts through midfield, but from a resulting penalty Scott Nelson, Marc Thomas and Russ Wilkinson laid the groundwork for Josh Fewkes to be driven over by the posts. Russ Chapman converted easily then fired over a huge penalty from halfway to extend the lead to 10-0. Upminster hit back with an unconverted 60m interception try before Chapman struck a second penalty.
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The next try was the best of the first half when first phase scrum ball went left, Nelson and Chapman worked a hole for Myles McAlone to race through and he found Brad Sutherland tearing up from full-back to carry two defenders over the line.
Jamie Pavitt pulled a penalty back for Upminster and with only 10 points between them L&Y felt they needed at least another score before the break. It came when Howe bustled through and Chapman took L&Y to a 17-point cushion.
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Now playing uphill into the strong wind L&Y knew to keep the ball in hand and battle their hearts out to keep the visitors at bay. The back three of Sutherland, Dave Palmer and Kristan Taylor Crisp coped well with some raking kicks from Pavitt, then some excellent midfield pressure defence forced a mistake in the centres which bounced kindly for McAlone to race 50m to the posts and L&Y's bonus point.
L&Y scored a fifth try after Thomas and Chapman set Palmer waltzing down the right wing. When he was stopped, Steve Adams and Howe took the ball left before quick ruck ball allowed Nelson to send Thomas trotting over.
Upminster responded with a try before the home second row came charging through a ruck with his head. Steve Powles retaliated too effectively and both departed, Powles to a red card and the home player to an ice pack and chair.
Upminster scored another well worked try as L&Y reshuffled and the last 15 minutes was a feast of running rugby. A try from Adams was answered with a bonus try for the hosts before Palmer and Ryan Oakes touched down to complete the scoring.