Dereham 17 Lowestoft & Yarmouth 34 – Pears’ pride as higher-level side pushed all the way

Dereham flanker and joint man-of-the-match Dave Watson showing commitment on Saturday. Picture: KIRS

Dereham flanker and joint man-of-the-match Dave Watson showing commitment on Saturday. Picture: KIRSTY DREW - Credit: Archant

The Norfolk Junior Cup semi-final saw a fighting Dereham go down to Lowestoft & Yarmouth in an enthralling contest.

The home team were missing several first-choice players through injury and unavailability and were taking on much higher-league opposition who play in London League Division Three North-East, two levels above Dereham. Despite this, it was the hosts who took the match to L&Y from the off. An early penalty to Dereham allowed Marcus Evans to find the corner with a great 40-metre kick. The home team set a maul from the line-out, turned on the power and drove over the line for Evans to score (unconverted).

Pressure from Dereham during the first quarter forced a number of penalties from the visitors but they were unable to add to their early points. L&Y drew level in the 20th minute when a quickly-worked penalty was worked wide to allow their winger to step inside and score (unconverted).

The momentum swung Yarmouth's way and the hosts had Harry Graham to thank for a try-saving tackle five minutes later. The Dereham set piece was also under pressure from the big Lowestoft pack and a lost scrum saw a big gap in the centres exploited by the pacy L&Y backs to score under the posts (converted). Another converted try soon followed.

Dereham were not about to roll over though and replied when Gaz Roberts took an inside pass from Brett Stolworthy to score well. Evans converted.

L&Y, 19-12 ahead at the break, knew they were in a match and the Dereham players were showing great commitment in the heavy conditions with flanker Dave Watson, hooker Ollie Hunt and number eight Lee Grey making some great tackles and carries.

The next score was always going to be crucial and a knock on proved costly for Dereham as L&Y eventually fashioned a score (unconverted). Some inexplicable defending then allowed the L&Y full back to tap-and-go from his own 22-metre line and run 50 yards unchallenged before offloading to a supporting back to score (unconverted).

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Dereham were feeling the pace now but were not finished and forced a series of line-outs and mauls and a great drive saw Grey cross in the 70th minute, much to the home support's pleasure. Unfortunately, Grey left the field injured shortly after to good applause. The man-of-the-match award was shared by Watson and Hunt.

Senior coach Leon Pears said: 'The boys should be really proud of themselves. The fact that we were able to not only take on, but compete well with, a far more senior side is a measure of how far we have come this season and with the commitment being shown within the club at the moment, the future looks bright for Dereham.'