Swaffham like taste of higher level

Swaffham RFC took to the field in front of a home crowd eager to taste the challenge of a team from the league above - Fakenham - in a friendly fixture.

Swaffham 0, Fakenham 21

Swaffham took to the field in front of a home crowd eager to taste the challenge of a team from the league above - Fakenham - in a friendly fixture.

Unlucky not to get on the scoreboard, Swaffham tasted rugby from the next division, and liked it.

This weekend they host Southwold in the league, 3pm.

Straight away Swaffham put pressure on their opponents but they couldn't quite find the score despite good pressure at the line-out and tenacity at the breakdowns.

From their own 22 Fakenham cleared the ball and made good yardage through their forwards, with their backs also running good lines, thwarted only by the gritty defence of Swaffham. It wasn't long before Fakenham scored though, as a kick ahead bounced ahead of full-back Sparks and fell into the arms of the oncoming Fakenham chaser.

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He sprinted to the line and touched down. The score was converted and Swaffham had an uphill struggle.

The next passage of play was scrappy from both sides, with poor kicks being exchanged and errors creeping into the game.

Fakenham came at Swaffham time and time again, but again the defence held until Swaffham finally won turnover ball and started to play their way. Hitting up with the forwards the hard yards were made, and the backs finally had a chance with ball in hand, Barnard and Impey in particular making good breaks beyond the defensive line.

However, the next score was to be Fakenham's closely followed by the half-time whistle. With another converted try, Fakenham had eked out a 14-0 lead.

Swaffham hit the ground running in the second half. With the experienced Wood brought on for Reynolds in the pack and orders in the backs to keep ball in hand Swaffham upped their intensity.

The pack, led round the park by stalwarts Gunnell, Gladman and Wood, attacked every ruck.

Swaffham came close to scoring on a number of occasions but the solid blue wall of Fakenham held tight.

Brilliant running from the thundering Murray, coupled with close-quarters support from the Webb brothers maintained Swaffham's momentum, however, and still the hard-working Swaffham beavered away as a unit.

Bird and M Taylor fought well on the deck to maintain possession and wingers Hamilton and Smolen were heavily involved in the campaign.

Outside-centre Terzza acquitted himself well in his debut start for the first XV.

Fakenham bit back with interest and Swaffham found themselves on the back foot, having to defend for their lives. The score came, however, and was duly converted, but as Swaffham faced their first defeat of the season full in the face, still they fought for the remaining few minutes.

MoM: flanker Dale Bird, in his first start for the first XI.

Before the game there was a one-minute silence in tribute to John Mitchell, a founder and honorary life member of Swaffham RUFC.