Dereham’s important rugby win

Dereham 22, Mistley 8

RUGBY: Dereham continued their run of good form with their most important win of the season so far, a convincing one against second-in-the-table Mistley at Moorgate.

Having lost home and away to Mistley last season Dereham were aware of the threat posed by the visitors' physical style of play and knew that their pack needed to meet that challenge.

Dereham's captain Andy Brooke also had to contend with some enforced changes at fly-half and centre but was fortunate to have McDermott available for the first time in many weeks.

Mistley delivered just as expected, aggressive at the breakdown, driving around the fringes and putting their strong runners through the centre of the park to test Dereham's defence.

Dereham were more than a match in the early exchanges and gave no space or territory. The scrum held firm, though Lake was consistently under pressure around the base and did well to feed McDermott accurately.

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Canning continued his improved form, working hard around the pitch with Ponder, and at the line-out with Dunsire to latch onto Marcus Evan's precise throwing.

Chester disrupted the visitors with some massive tackles in midfield and it was from one such hit that the ball was forced loose for a hack through and some nifty footwork to score under the posts. Evans converted.

But before Dereham could consider their next move Mistley responded in emphatic manner by driving a maul from their own line-out and peeling off to score wide on the left of the field (unconverted).

The pack threatened the visitors line repeatedly but couldn't breach it again, so Evans took the opportunity of a penalty on the stroke of half-time to slot a further three points for a 10:5 lead going into the break.

Dereham's failure to maintain the tempo of the game has been a continual headache over the past two seasons, and Brooke took the decision to make two changes. He brought on Tom and Carl Edwards for Dunsire and Ruddy Gant.

Mistley stretched the Dereham defence. Stu Ledward came on a a replacement in the centre and Mistley had to settle for three points from a penalty as Dereham held firm.

A quickly-taken penalty led to the forwards rumbling to within 10 yards of the Mistley line. Then another infringement allowed Ponder to take the opportunity for a tap-and-go and the flanker showed great determination to drive over with the support of his pack.

Lewis Rayner and Chris Bessant made telling tackles to snuff out half-breaks by Mistley, but by now Dereham had sorted their problems at the back of the scrum and Lake was able to bring the backs into full use.

A break by McDermott got the ball out wide to Bessant, who evaded the defence and come round the outside and back under the posts for the telling third try. Evans converted giving Dereham a 14-point advantage.

Dereham had the chance to go further ahead only for the last pass to go to ground. Dereham sensed an important victory and ground Mistley down at the set-piece, pinning them in their own half until the final whistle.

Dereham will be without Andy Brooke next match as he marries fianc�e Katie, but they will be determined to do well in their captain's absence in a tricky away fixture against Felixstowe to keep up the momentum in their league campaign.

Pictured below: Dunsire rises to the challenge.