Dereham into rugby final
Thetford 10, Dereham 20Dereham secured a place in the final of this year's Woodfordes Norfolk Plate with an unfancied victory over Thetford on Saturday.
Thetford 10, Dereham 20
Dereham secured a place in the final of this year's Woodfordes Norfolk Plate with an unfancied victory over Thetford on Saturday.
Thetford had knocked Dereham out of this competition in each of the last three years, and another away tie didn't leave Dereham the favourites against opposition from the league above them.
Both sides have struggled in the leagues this year, so the prospect of a cup final was a welcome lift to both teams, who threw everything into the tie.
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From an untidy start, Dereham recovered well and some precise kicking put them within striking range after 10 minutes. Dunsire, captaining the side for the injured Malcolmson, caught clean possession at the lineout, which was recycled by the pack as they edged closer to the line.
Thetford had put the guards on the breakdown and looked set to repel the attack, but Winchester picked the ball from the base and was driven over by Edwards for the first try.
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Efforts to increase the score came frustratingly close. Thomas was making headway from fly half with some powerful drives, whilst Morgan, Gant and Rikata caused Thetford problems out wide.
Worryingly for Dereham, the last phase repeatedly let them down and all the while Thetford were building back into the game through a combination of aggressive forward power and accurate kicks into space to turn the Dereham defence.
The score was deservedly levelled with a fine collect and cutting run from the Thetford No 14.
Not for the first time this season, Dereham's concentration lapsed and a speculative penalty attempt by Thetford drifted well to the left of the posts, but wasn't dealt with by the defence. The ball bounced kindly into the arms of the advancing Thetford wing who jinked across the line. Suddenly Dereham were 10-5 down going into half-time and in need of inspiration.
Matters weren't helped by the loss of Harradine to injury, joining Reeve on the sideline for the second half. Powley came on to the wing and Chester went to open side flanker, but the side retained a good balance.
The pack provided the spark when Dunsire cleaned up the restart and linked in with Edwards and Winchester again combining to take the ball up-field. Brown and Canning cleaned out and Thetford started to reel under the pressure.
A moment of indiscipline left the referee no option but to reach for a red card and Thetford were reduced to 14 men. Williams immediately made the home side pay with three points from the resultant penalty.
Five minutes later, Rikata showed what a pacey addition he has been to the side by cutting an angle through the home defence for a try to put Dereham back in front.
Thetford pinned Dereham back to their own line for long periods. Determined tackling from Rob Annable, John Sutton and Nigel Brown preserved the lead and gave Pilbrow and Gant the chance to clear upfield.
Thetford's chances were killed off when Thomas succeeded in doing what he had threatened all afternoon, breaking clean through the centre for a try under the posts, converted by Price for the comfort of a 10-point cushion.
The final of the Woodfordes Norfolk Plate will be played at Moorgate on April 25, at 3pm, and will be the first home fixture Dereham have had in eight final appearances.
The club intends to celebrate the occasion with a full afternoon of hospitality.
Further details will be appearing on the club's website at www.derehamrugby.org All past players, friends and well wishers will be welcome.