West Norfolk II 5 Dereham 38 – Jones’ troops dig out away Eastern Counties Two North triumph

Dereham winger Brett Stolworthy breaks against West Norfolk. Picture: TIM EVANS

Dereham winger Brett Stolworthy breaks against West Norfolk. Picture: TIM EVANS - Credit: Archant

Dereham were glad to be back in league action at the weekend and recorded a fine win at West Norfolk, writes Tim Evans.

They had been awarded a 'walk-over' in the previous week's fixture against Beccles II as the visitors were unable to raise a team. It was going to be a test therefore to see if Dereham could maintain their fine early season form, and unbeaten Eastern Counties Two North record, after two weeks' rest.

At the outset, this seemed unlikely as it was West who dominated early play in the opening minutes. Their forwards won good ground and were able to out-scrum their visitors when the packs came together on the first two occasions. As Dereham finally eased themselves into the match, handling errors from both sides were common with the ball greasy from steady rain.

First blood however went to the away side in the 17th minute when good anticipation saw Gareth Roberts intercept a West pass before off-loading to supporting centre Harry Graham to score under the posts. Marcus Evans obliged with the conversion. Within minutes, the visitors had added to their score when Graham's partner in the centres, Craig Chester, fed Jack Edwards whose pace saw him over the line (converted).

Evans with a penalty kick kept the scoreboard ticking over and on the half hour, Dereham won a ruck on the half way line. The ball was fed quickly to Brett Stolworthy on the left wing who skinned his opposite number on the outside before releasing the ball inside to the ever-willing Graham who completed his brace of tries.

Some tough talking from Dereham head coach Rob Jones at half time paid dividends. But a visiting high tackle was penalised early after the restart and from the resultant penalty and line-out, the West forward drove over the line. Somehow however, the Dereham forwards defended brilliantly to get a hand under the ball to save the day. This spurred West on and they broke for an unconverted score. Dereham dug in and responded themselves 10 minutes later when a line-out was won and quick ball fed to Chester to open his account (converted).

The best try of the match followed in the 60th minute when Dereham won a ball against the head and slick passing through the backs saw Edwards run in his second try (converted). The visitors' tails were up and they could have added to their score late on when another series of passes through their back line ended with a knock-on with the line begging. The East Coast Castings man-of-the match was awarded to Edwards for an excellent display in both attack and defence.

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Dereham skipper Dan Ponder said: 'It was great to get back out on the pitch although our display at times could have been better.

'West showed good spirit from start to finish and gave a very good account of themselves. Credit to the boys however who dug in well and we're certainly glad to come away with a bonus point win.'