Dereham rugby teams upbeat

Dereham 8, Swaffham 0DEREHAM continued their progress up Eastern Counties Two with a hard-fought victory on Saturday.For the watching supporters it wasn't the most entertaining game of the year, but it was played with typical derby passion and determination.

Dereham 8, Swaffham 0

DEREHAM continued their progress up Eastern Counties Two with a hard-fought victory on Saturday.

For the watching supporters it wasn't the most entertaining game of the year, but it was played with typical derby passion and determination.

Dereham head coach Frank Affleck praised the new spirit in the team. “The guys are training twice a week, attendance has been great and we are starting to see the benefit in the games.

Players are competing for their places and there's a good buzz at the club. We've got Lakenham before Christmas and the prospect of a stab at Holt in the cup early in the new year, so there is plenty to keep us interested.”

Dereham had been preparing for the derby over the last weeks, improving on physicality around the breakdown, defence in open play and fitness levels. All three paid off as Dereham kept a clean sheet and ended the match as the stronger team on a heavy, tiring pitch.

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The early pressure came from Swaffham who had the edge in early scrums and attempted to impose a tight game to make the most of their heavy pack.

The home defence was up to the challenge as the back row snuffed out the forward threat and Drewery, Chester and Tribe pressured the back line.

The closest Swaffham came to scoring was a very kickable penalty which Dereham were relieved to see drift wide.

With chances few and far between, territory was important and Dereham were able to work their way up-field through a combination of attacking line-outs and better rucking.

Camped in the Swaffham 22, Dereham should have done more to convert their monopoly into points but some questionable decision-making failed to capitalise.

Swaffham were forced to kick long to get out of trouble but the back three of Ledward, Ponder and Rolfe dealt with the threat comfortably to see the sides go into half-time with no score.

It was clear that every point would be hard to come by. Gareth Drewery had to retire with a knee injury and was replaced by Jason Pilbrow at fly half. He saw his first penalty attempt fall short but the second was a much cleaner strike and gave Dereham a narrow three-point advantage.

It was hardly enough to sit back on and Scott Malcolmson brought on Winchester for the injured Dunsire and Lake for Rolfe. Winchester carried on the good work of Wombat and found success with a peel from the back of a much steadier Dereham scrum. This released Fish and then Ponder, who finished the move in impressive style to touch down in the corner for a further five points and finally some clear daylight between the teams.

At the start of the season Dereham were prone to fade in the last quarter, but they showed why it's been three wins from three in their last league matches by maintaining the tempo and denying Swaffham the room to get back into the game.

Saracens U16 15, Dereham Barbarians 23

Dereham Barbarians were grateful to team sponsors Barker Engineering which enabled the team and support to travel to the famous Saracens club in Enfield and have the chance to test how far they have come against one of the country's premier clubs.

The Barbarians started sluggishly after the long journey but managed to contain the Saracens attack until a pin-point crossfield kick was gathered on the wing for a clear run in.

The second try was controversial as Dereham were convinced the ball had been held up short of the line following some nice handling between the Saracens centres.

Dereham were slowly coming into the game and for a while simply absorbed the pressure until some persistent hard rucking from Adam Wright drew a penalty which Evans calmly slotted over to reduce the deficit to 10-3 at half time.

The Barbarians were not happy with their first half performance and it needed a strong motivational talk from the coaching team before Barbarians sprang into life at the beginning of the second half. However they could not convert any of their pressure into points.

Before they knew it Saracens had scored their thirdtry when the scrum half took the ball blind and ran in to score a good solo try.

At 15-3 the game was in danger of slipping away but Dereham upped the tempo and started to make some ground with strong runs from Andy Rumbles and Stolworthy.

The Barbarians scored through a powerful run down the wing from Adam Wright who in turn popped the ball off to Josh Stewart to score.

Dereham won the restart and went back in an attacking position. More quick balls from Jacob at scrum half allowed Edwards to dart over the line with two sidesteps.

The change in Dereham had rattled the Saracens team and they started to lose some discipline, giving away a sloppy penalty for hands in the ruck which was thumped over from the 10m line by Evans.

The Barbarians now had a one-point lead on Saracens and with two minutes on the clock a loose pass in the Saracens centres was picked up by Rumbles who, with some great pace, scored under the posts from the half way line.

The Barbarians received warm hospitality from Saracens and look forward to entertaining them. Captain Josh Stewart said: “We travelled a long way for this game and we are exceptionally pleased to have come away with an impressive result against a top club.”

Next, the Barbarians travel to Bury St Edmunds for another tough fixture before the Christmas break.