Dereham 19 Fakenham 22 – Hosts need a lift after Eastern Counties Two North derby defeat

Fakenham’'s John Wilson, left, and Ashley Stuart, right, in harrying action. Picture: MIKE WYATT

Fakenham’'s John Wilson, left, and Ashley Stuart, right, in harrying action. Picture: MIKE WYATT - Credit: Archant

Dereham entertained rivals Fakenham with the teams producing a real cliffhanger, writes Tim Evans.

Fakenham were looking to avenge an early-season drubbing by Dereham while the hosts were looking to get their Eastern Counties Two North title hopes back on track in the new year.

The visitors spurned two early opportunities to take the lead via careless penalties conceded by Dereham and a greasy ball and heavy pitch led to a series of knock-ons by both teams in the early exchanges. The hosts took the lead when wing Brett Stolworthy made a good break wide on the left and passed inside for Matthew Rees to score (converted).

As the half progressed, there were too many basic errors from Dereham and when the ball was lost in the tackle yet again, this allowed the Fakenham wing to make use of the advantage and pass outside to his supporting No9 who ran in to score. On the half hour, the home team had worked hard to find themselves in a good position but another knock-on at the death meant a further chance went begging – something they would rue at the end of the match. Just before half time, a Dereham penalty on the Fakenham 5m line saw Gareth Roberts take the crash ball and score under the posts to make it 14-7.

The second half began with Fakenham on the front foot and they added a try. Fakenham were competitive all over the pitch and were putting their hosts under pressure. Quick ball from their scrum on the Dereham 5m found their centre who broke a tackle to score as they took the lead for the first time in the 58th minute. A penalty increased the visitors' tally whilst the home team were looking disjointed at this point. But they picked themselves up when their own scrum produced quick ball which went through the backs to winger BoBo who turned on the gas to score well. The home team were galvanised now and within touching distance of regaining the lead. Another great opportunity to do just that presented itself in the 70th minute but the ball was knocked on again with the line beckoning. Despite pressing hard in the closing minutes, further points proved elusive for the home team with the Fakenham defence resolute.

Dereham captain Dan Ponder said: 'We're all disappointed with the performance. As a team, we needed to function well, especially in a derby game and to their credit, Fakenham did that better than we did. We missed several good chances which cost us the match and the task now is to lift the team again for the away match at Beccles next week'.