Derby rivals beat freeze
Dereham 0, Swaffham 25WITH few other outdoor sporting events taking place in Norfolk, the hardy stalwarts of Dereham and Swaffham fought out a local rugby derby in Eastern Counties Division Two on a bitterly cold day.
Dereham 0, Swaffham 25
WITH few other outdoor sporting events taking place in Norfolk, the hardy stalwarts of Dereham and Swaffham fought out a local rugby derby in Eastern Counties Division Two on a bitterly cold day.
The fixture was in doubt right up to the kick-off but the home side felt this was an opportunity to sneak the victory against a depleted Swaffham side, and kicked off with confidence.
It was soon apparent though that it was the visitors who were able to handle the ball in the hand-numbing conditions and after some early exchanges Swaffham spread the ball wide for Smolen to touch down wide out.
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Swaffham's rucking was superior and their free-flowing game kept the Dereham defence on their toes, and their vociferous supporters subdued.
The second try came from Gunnell, playing in the centre, when he was released to dummy the cover and score near the posts.
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The conversion was missed but Swaffham's 10-0 advantage was well earned and more was to come. Dereham conceded several penalties for infringements at the ruck and good touch kicks kept Swaffham in the hosts half, from where they launched their speedy back row to good effect.
After another good handling move Barnard was put over for Swaffham's third try and just before the half-time whistle, Harris sneaked around the edge of a ruck to score.
With a 20-point advantage the game looked one sided but Dereham rallied in the second half and put the visitors under a lot of pressure. Sterling defensive work and some crunching tackles showed the commitment on both sides but neither team could force the breakthrough.
The nearest either side could get to scoring was a poor Swaffham attempt at goal by Gladman which frightened the worms more than the seagulls hovering overhead.
With the sun setting and the temperature dropping, it was looking likely that the match could have been abandoned.
However, the players stuck to their task and eventually it was Swaffham who scored at the final play when Bigland strode over from 10 metres, after sustained pressure on the Dereham line.
Both sets of players deserve great credit for their performances in extremely difficult conditions and the fans went home happy with their afternoon's entertainment.