Dereham’s good rugby form maintained

Swaffham 17, Dereham 20

RUGBY: After a two-week weather pause in league games Dereham continued their run of good form against close local rivals Swaffham.

Swaffham started the stronger, only strong tackling from Leeder and Fish keeping them from scoring. Dereham eventually conceded a penalty and the kick was well converted from out wide.

Dereham responded with a strong spell and were rewarded with a penalty which Evans slotted over calmly to start his day of impressive kicking.

Brooks and Chester were making good yards in attack from strong surging runs, but the home defence was equal to the threat and was turning over the breakdown too often for Dereham to put good possession together.

Swaffham made their persistent pressure count with a well-worked try in which their No 8 spun from the back of a scrum, creating the overlap to score.

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Evans replied with a couple of penalties to pull Dereham back into the game before half-time but Dereham were looking stretched and only some determined tackling from Dan Ponder and Jack Edwards kept the scoreline in sight.

Swaffham started the second half at the same tempo and within five minutes scored from a loose ball in the line-out.

Sean Murphy had replaced Lewis Smith at prop after a calf injury and the scrum benefited from his experience which gave Dereham a more solid platform to work from, however they were still struggling to convert chances into points.

The game was in danger of getting away from Dereham but Evans kept the scoreboard ticking over as the forwards started to break around the fringes.

Dereham suffered another injury blow when McDermott was forced to retire with an ankle injury. Roy Head came into the front row and a quick reshuffle saw Ponder at centre and Jack Edwards at fly half.

Dereham moved into their best spell of the game, a few tap-and-goes put Swaffham on the back foot before Dereham were finally rewarded with a try.

A turnover ball from the line-out allowed Lake to deliver quick ball to the backs. The ball was recycled well by the forwards and an inside pass was given to Rayner who found the smallest of gaps to break through and score to bring the two teams level.

After some ill discipline from both sides Dereham started to dominate the territorial possession. Just as it looked as if time had run out Carl Edwards stole the ball and the pack drove him towards the Swaffham line. The defence came in from the side and killed the ball, handing a penalty to Dereham with the last play of the game.

Marcus Evans, from a wide position, sent the ball between the uprights to hand the victory to Dereham.

Captain Brookes said: 'I'm massively pleased for the club that we got a win from this fixture – although we didn't play as well as we had hoped.

'The two-week lay off was evident in both sides but we showed the grit to come through and grind out a win. We need to improve on this performance if we are to win the next game.'

On Saturday, Dereham face Thetford at home in their last game before the festive break.