Swaffham romp to fine win

THE day was chilly but die-hard Swaffham fans were warmed by a memorable 29-0 victory over hosts Haverhill.An early penalty was awarded to Swaffham as the pack chased down Lines' start kick and forced Haverhill to illegally play the ball on the deck.

THE day was chilly but die-hard Swaffham fans were warmed by a memorable 29-0 victory over hosts Haverhill.

An early penalty was awarded to Swaffham as the pack chased down Lines' start kick and forced Haverhill to illegally play the ball on the deck.

From the resulting kick to touch, a good line-out move was ended prematurely as Gladman was robbed of the ball.

Haverhill cleared their lines but the early pressure showed Swaffham's commitment to the challenge ahead.

Soon after Haverhill touched down behind their own line as a clever chip nearly saw the opening try. The first scrum was a show of Swaffham's power. Gunnell, in particular, was all over his opposite prop in the front row.

From the scrum Harris made a sensational break off the flank, scrounging the ball at the back. Bartlett was in support and received the offload from Harris, but was unfortunate to knock the ball on, under considerable pressure from the Haverhill covering defence.

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The Haverhill scrum was again under pressure but nevertheless the home side won the ball and fed to their big inside-centre in an attempt to run the ball out of their 22.

He was no match for Barnard though, who created the first try with a monstrous hit on his opposite man, dislodging the ball. Harris gleefully dropped on it to bag the first try. Bartlett took the conversion in the absence of injured Steve Webb and successfully made it 7-0.

From the re-start Gunnell ran it straight back into the heart of Haverhill, the defence was good and it was only the hard work of Gunnell's support that lead to the ball retention.

Chris Hamilton also made good yards, given ball with space to run. He straightened well and Matt Taylor was on hand to secure the ball once again.

With all this possession and good territory the next score was inevitable. DJ Barnard put the pace on to go round the outside of the Haverhill defence and his super offload to J Taylor left Taylor and Bartlett two on one against the Haverhill full-back. Taylor unselfishly passed to to Bartlett, who touched down and then converted his own try for 14-0 after 15 minutes.

The score remained the same until half-time. This was mostly due to the huge Swaffham defensive effort, for a Haverhill try was on the cards.

For long periods of time Haverhill were camped out on Swaffham's five-metre line but big hits, in particular from R Gladman and L Gunnell, kept the attackers at bay. J Palmer was having a good game, marshalling his pack with confidence and conviction at scrum-half.

It was Palmer who set up a massive break from the massive second row Tom Murray. Beating three tackles on his way to the half way line, the big man then had the control to secure possession as he took contact on his own terms and presented well.

It was back to defensive duty soon after however, as Swaffham were tested thoroughly by the big pack of the home side.

Haverhill were unlucky not to score as they secured ball from their own lineout and put in a cross-field kick. Fortunately for the men of Swaffham, the ball bounced safely over the dead ball line.

The centre partnership of Barnard and J Taylor was once again working well in both defence and attack, but there was no opportunity for them to break with ball in hand, so they concentrated on bringing the oncoming attackers down.

The half-time whistle went and Swaffham gathered round coach Wassell pleased with the defensive effort they had put in during a taxing and draining first half.

J Palmer scored halfway into the second half as J Taylor took a clean catch covering in the full-back position. The pack was there in numbers to secure possession at the ruck, but captain J Chamberlain had seen a weakness to exploit and was hanging back. He burst rampantly onto the inside flick from Lines and hit through a hole between the fly half and the breakdown.

He, in turn, fed Lines as he was eventually tackled and Lines put Palmer clean away to score his first try in Swaffham colours. The missed conversion meant the score stayed at 19-0.

The next try came just five minutes later as the exciting backs once again showed their full potential. Good defence from Lines saw Bartlett in possession. He stepped his man to burst up the line while J Taylor was blazing a trail in his support and plucked Bartlett's pass at full tilt. He had the presence of mind to return the pass to Bartlett as he was confronted with the hard-hitting Haverhill full-back.

Bartlett returned the favour over the line for Taylor to score, 24-0. J Trett was brought on for experienced campaigner M James, S Wood freshened up the back row in place of the hard-working M Taylor, while fresh-legged Pete Sparks brought youthfulness and added pace to the back division.

The final score came as Wood burst from the back of a scrum. From the base of the subsequent ruck Palmer had the vision to break blind where he outpaced his opposite man and offloaded to J Taylor who touched down with five minutes to go for a memorable Swaffham away win, 29-0 the final score.

Thurlow Nunn MoM: Tom Murray.