Game plan forgotten

DEREHAM rugby players in a week went from a baked pitch in an Indian summer to splashing about in mud and water. Conditions did nothing to lift spirits as all three club sides suffered defeats.

DEREHAM rugby players in a week went from a baked pitch in an Indian summer to splashing about in mud and water. Conditions did nothing to lift spirits as all three club sides suffered defeats.

The first team were at home to Haverhill and fancied chalking up their first league win of the season. And after 20 minutes it looked as if they would do just that.

Jason Pilbrow stormed through midfield before releasing Daniel Johnson to sprint the final 20m for his first team debut score under the posts. Drewery converted and a few minutes later Edwards extended the lead. He took a quick penalty and, defying the attention of the covering tackles, dived low to take the score to 12-0.

Inexplicably Dereham went to sleep and let the Haverhill centres waltz past the defence to score under the posts and then repeat the trick a few minutes later.

Some indiscipline led to three yellow cards, two against Dereham, and the home side did well to not concede a point while down to 13 men, and a penalty from Drewery took Dereham into the break with a slender 15-14 lead.

Haverhill used the break to change their game plan and slow the pace to use their big pack in the tight and take a stranglehold on the good possession.

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As Dereham struggled in the scrum and line-out the opportunities for Tribe and Chester in the centres receded. Fish did his best at scrum half to get the Dereham forwards moving but Haverhill capitalised on every opportunity to slot home two penalties and take a 20-15 lead.

Dereham brought on Winchester and Reeve and it looked as though the changes had done the trick as Reeve looked to be free on the wing, but a handling error stopped a certain try.

Then it was Winchester's chance to rescue Dereham as he cut an angle from a short penalty, breached the line but had the ball knocked from his hands before he could ground it to level the score.

Haverhill were content to hoof the ball downfield and play out the last two minutes in the middle of the park.

Nothing could hide the disappointment in the home dressing room. Dereham's captain Scott Malcolmson said: “We looked like winners for the first 20 then forgot our game plan and ended up wrestling with a big strong pack.

“We've got a tough away fixture at Ely next, and we are going to have to smarten up and win these tight matches if we are going to make any impression in the league this year.”

The second team were away to West Norfolk in the Merit League.

With their Light Dragoon element absent on exercise the team arrived with only 13 men, forcing Roy Head into the unfamiliar scrum half position and Ben Spurgeon into the centres.

Justin Morfoot did well with scrappy possession, but Dereham were never able to overcome the numerical disadvantage, and despite a gutsy performance were comprehensively beaten by 34-7, the sole Dereham points coming from Stu Lester's try and Spurgeon's conversion.

On Sunday the Barbarians faced West Norfolk on the back of two straight wins and were confident of overcoming one of the premier sides in the region.

With echoes of the first team's performance they went straight into a five-point lead when Edwards intercepted a West Norfolk pass, broke towards the try line and off-loaded for Chris Beasent in close support to score.

West showed their pedigree with some fierce rucking at the break down. Dereham seemed a little fazed by the intensity of the West Norfolk play. Adam Wright and Brendan Warren performed with distinction, running at the heart of the West defence. Rumbles and Beasent did their best in attack and defence but the conditions didn't favour Dereham's normal expansive style and every loose ball was won by West's dominant pack.

Breakdowns turned into scores and at half-time West had taken a deserved lead at 14-5. Frank Affleck and Tim Evans rallied the team in the break and the pack upped their game but could do nothing to prevent two further tries from a very well-drilled visiting side.

Wright got on the scorecard at the end with a deserved try from a team surge on the right wing , but the Barbarians went down 24-12. The boys won't be disheartened with their performance and will be putting everything into their next match at home to Broadland on Sunday at 11am.