Wanstead 22, Norwich 15

Lawrence Austin has plenty of Wanstead opponents for company during Saturday's 22-15 defeat.

Lawrence Austin has plenty of Wanstead opponents for company during Saturday's 22-15 defeat. - Credit: Archant

This defeat at Wanstead curiously put Norwich on top of London 3NE by virtue of their losing bonus point, with South Woodham Ferrers having the day off.

The game ebbed and flowed much as the one at Norwich did earlier in the season but it was winnable for the visitors and they will be frustrated that it got away from them.

Norwich had control for large periods but did not seize all of their opportunities, losing possession at crucial times, and not releasing their backs quickly enough. Despite having less territory and possession overall, Wanstead took more of their opportunities when they had them.

The home side's early pressure was rewarded with a try following a missed tackle which they took full advantage of by scoring half way out. The conversion was missed.

Norwich were stirred into action and then started to exert pressure. The pressure eventually told when an infringement within kicking range was converted by Rob Micklethwaite.

Possession for the next 10 minutes belonged to the hosts but Norwich made a turn-over count when the ball went through the hands, working the ball to the right for Scott Hancocks to score. Micklethwaite slotted the conversion.

Wanstead came straight back at them and it seemed almost inevitable that they would score when they found themselves with spare men out wide. Only the decision not to pass, coupled with a brilliant tackle from Hancocks, prevented the try as the ball was knocked on in contact.

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At half- time, with the score 5-10, it was anyone's game but Norwich started the second half well and scored again. The ball came out from the scrum and was moved to the left. Full back Wheater came into the line and against seemingly impossible odds barged and wriggled his way over into the corner. Micklethwaite's kick just drifted wide.

Wanstead once again came straight back at them and when a poor clearance kick was charged down within the 22, Norwich were put under huge pressure with Wanstead getting the ball down in the corner but missing the conversion.

Norwich then had another period of pressure where they looked odds on to score but lost possession of the ball deep in the opposition 22.

Wanstead seized their opportunity and drove play down to the Norwich 22, picking up and driving to good effect resulting in a try under the posts that was converted.

With time running out for the visitors they had an opportunity to reduce the arrears with a penalty about 35 metres out but Micklethwaite couldn't land the kick.

Wanstead ground their way down field gradually with the assistance of more penalty decisions some of which Norwich will consider themselves unlucky to have conceded. With Hancocks sin binned for going in at the side of the ruck, time and opportunities for Norwich were running out.

They lost prop Hosking with an ankle injury and from a five metre scrum Wanstead picked up and worked round the blind side to score in the corner. The missed conversion ended the game and gave the visitors a consolation losing bonus point.

With three tough away fixtures still to come, Norwich have plenty to work on. They will be keen to extend their unbeaten home record on Saturday against Canvey Island.