Swaffham go joint top
Swaffham RFC triumphed away from home, beating Hadleigh 36-17, to see themselves go joint top of the table with two wins from two.Swaffham kicked off in front of a vocal crowd through the boot of Impey, but scrappy play from both sides saw a poor first five minutes.
Swaffham RFC triumphed away from home, beating Hadleigh 36-17, to see themselves go joint top of the table with two wins from two.
Swaffham kicked off in front of a vocal crowd through the boot of Impey, but scrappy play from both sides saw a poor first five minutes.
After defending deep inside their own half, under pressure from Hadleigh, a penalty was conceded in the 22.
Fortunately for Swaffham the kicker could not convert early pressure into points, and Swaffham broke out of their own half from the resulting 22.
This change in momentum saw Swaffham repeatedly attacking the Hadleigh line, both through the pack, and with good hands through the back line.
Left-wing Terzza was kept short twice in quick succession, and Swaffham struggled to break down the strong Hadleigh defence. After a number of penalty offences, Swaffham opted for a scrum on the five-metre line and looked to push their opponents over, this was foiled the first time, but a repeated effort after 18 minutes of play saw Gladman pick up from the base and surge powerfully over the line for the opening score. Not converted.
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The game was evenly matched for the next 15 minutes. Hadleigh's centres saw a lot of ball as they hit up the middle, evenly matched by Swaffham centres Barnard and J Taylor.
The pack, buoyed by their success at the series of five-metre scrums, worked tirelessly in defence and turned over possession well. Hadleigh were dogged in their approach however, and continued to batter the Swaffham line.
Hadleigh's inside-centre made good inroads, off-loading well, but the defence stood strong.
As Swaffham absorbed this period of intense pressure, holes started appearing in Hadleigh's line.
Inevitably, the turnover came and Swaffham could turn the tables on Hadleigh, making good ground with ball in hand, and with good, well-aimed kicks.
The next score came as Hadleigh infringed at a Swaffham line-out.
An advantage was played but with nothing coming of it the quick-thinking Gunnell took the tap from the mark, fixed his man and off-loaded to Impey, who sailed across the line to touch down gracefully in the corner, not converted.
Just five minutes later, however, a breakdown saw Swaffham over-committed and Hadleigh spun the ball wide.
Good hands in the centres saw the wing-man free to round the Swaffham back line and touch down - not converted.
Swaffham pinched another score on the brink of half-time. A half break from fly-half Impey was well-supported by Barnard, who in turn fed J Taylor at outside centre. His kick ahead was well chased by Terzza and the ball was won back. The Swaffham forwards rolled through a couple of phases, and skipper Chamberlain made a half break. This continued until Murray found himself with ball in hand just yards from the line. Hungry for a try, a pump of his legs and a dip of his knees saw the big second row over the line for a good score. Converted by S Webb, the half-time score was 17-5 to the away side.
After seven minutes of the second half, Prop Gunnell scored a wonderful try in a quite remarkable show of skill and pace. From a Swaffham line-out, a ruck formed, and the prop ran off scrum half Palmer and into space. His dummy was taken by the Hadleigh fly-half and Gunnell found himself free. He rounded the next defender with a strong hand-off, and then came the magic. A chip over the upcoming defender looked to be heading to the Hadleigh full-back, but the bounce of the ball fell Gunnell's way and he rounded off a magnificent solo effort, under the posts. S Webb completed the conversion and Swaffham had extended their lead to a healthy 24-5.
Gunnell was to score again soon after, this time with a big effort from the pack off a line-out in the Hadleigh 22. M Taylor again performed well, taking the ball in the middle of the lineout. A great rolling mall surged onwards, and Gunnell was the man at the back, grateful to drop over the try line five metres from touch. A sensational kick from S Webb flew between the posts and Swaffham stormed ahead.
However, Hadleigh were not going to roll over and take this. They renewed their intensity and upped their game to pressurise the Swaffham defence. The centres started up again, firing on all cylinders as they burst up the middle of the park again and again. Forwards crashed up too, making the hard yards until Hadleigh were camped in the Swaffham 22. The score inevitably came, and was converted.
Swaffham were hungry for more, and not content with their lead went after Hadleigh once again. Good kicking by Impey saw Swaffham in Hadleigh territory and fighting their way forwards. The pack rolled forwards through some good phases, with L Webb rounding a number of defenders on the path to the line, before releasing the backs. A well-organised move then set winger Smolen away. He had the awareness to sense the support from outside centre J Taylor who received a beautiful inside pass to cross the line. Not converted.
Open side flanker Reynolds was replaced by Bird after receiving well in the line-out and working hard at the breakdowns.
Hadleigh wrapped up proceedings however, with good movement from the left flank to the right, where they outnumbered the Swaffham defence and touched down in the corner. Not converted, the final whistle blew and Swaffham had triumphed away from home to see themselves joint top of the table with two wins from two.
Man-of-the-match this week was number eight R Gladman, who showed good skills throughout the game, on hand in defence and attack, and also putting in the hard graft at the breakdowns. Swaffham chairman Eric “Woof” Nye was also present and later commented: “The force was with Swaffham today, very pleased with the result I am,” while Tom Murray received donkey-of-the-day.