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West Norfolk 7, Holt 13

PUBLISHED: 14:34 28 March 2011

Holt kept their promotion hopes alive, and put a severe dent in the aspirations of old rivals West Norfolk, when they won a keenly contested Eastern Counties Division One encounter.

The visitors’ first success at Gatehouse Lane for a number of years left them needing to win their final two fixtures, including the re-match against West, to secure a place in the top two.

West now need to pick up maxium points agaist Holt, and hope fourth-placed Cantabrigians fail to win twice and make up a big points deficit, to stand a chance of going up.

Holt played with the wind and slight slope from the start and immediately showed their opponents they meant business by keeping possession during the early stages. Their reward finally came after 13 minutes when Allen put his side ahead with a penalty. Holt were playing good open rugby, with everybody playing their part, and this was further rewarded after 24 minutes when Allen kicked his second penalty.

Following this the home side did make a sortie into Holt’s half but the defence held firm and the attack was resumed. However the hosts made another raid into Holt’s half and this time, following a line-out and driving maul, Gareth Frost scored a try, converted by Ed Maule, to give them the lead 7-6, rather against the run of play after 29 minutes.

This setback inspired Holt to go back on the offensive and Graham Ilsley was close following a charged down kick. Then, with play switching to the other side of the field, Hill appeared to have scored but the try was not given and from the ensuing five-metre scrum, Holt were unable to score the all important try.

During the dying moments of the half they were off target with another penalty and with the whistle going for the break, Holt must have been wondering where the elusive try was going to come from.

Apart from an early West Norfolk attack, the visitors swept up the field to maintain their dominance in most phases of the game. A penalty chance went begging before Holt finally earned the try they had worked so hard for. A driving maul took Holt over their opponents’ goal line for Graham Ilsley to gain the touch down and with Allen adding the conversion the lead had been regained at 7-13 with 16 minutes left to play.

West finally broke the stranglehold and spent the last minutes of the game attacking Holt’s line, especially as the visitors had been reduced to 14 men with a yellow card being issued. However, despite this setback, Holt’s defence was equal to the occasion by keeping their line intact and then a couple of clearing penalties drove the attackers back.

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