Swaffham through to semis

Another good crowd turned up to see Swaffham continue their winning run, this time in the Norfolk Rugby Plate quarter-final against local rivals Dereham, 31-9.

Another good crowd turned up to see Swaffham continue their winning run, this time in the Norfolk Rugby Plate quarter-final against local rivals Dereham, 31-9.

A hint of sunshine broke through to light up the kick-off, both teams appearing from the tunnel focused and committed to the task ahead.

Swaffham kicked off, a good high kick from centre. Morrissey saw the pack arrive in numbers to pressure the clearing kick.

An exchange of average kicking ensued until a slice from the Dereham kicker gave the home side a line-out in midfield. Both teams showed their intentions early on, with midfield a battleground of hard tackling and harder rucking.

An infringement from Dereham saw Swaffham take an early lead through prop Webb nailing the subsequent penalty.

A knock-on at the restart saw Dereham with possession, and they were awarded a penalty themselves soon after as Swaffham charged up in defence too early.

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A kick to touch spelled trouble, but a timely steal from second-row Murray dissipated the danger and Morrissey's boot launched the ball deep into Dereham territory.

Again, the superb Swaffham line-out rose to the challenge, this time Matt Taylor getting his hands on Dereham ball to release the backs in the shape of wing James Taylor.

The next score came as Lenny Webb was tackled high breaking free from a ruck. The conversion was kicked again by brother Steve for 6-0.

Another kicking exchange saw the Dereham full-back shrugging off tackles to make a super break up the middle, only to be turned over in the ruck, Callaby and Gunnell putting their bodies on the line for the ball.

As Swaffham gained momentum the ball was deliberately slowed on the deck giving Webb the opportunity to extend the lead with another successful penalty kick. Score: 9-0 after 20 minutes.

Some harsh words from Dereham saw the away side pick their game up, starting to hit the rucks with the same intensity as Swaffham.

A penalty won after a good line-out was booted through the sticks to bring Dereham onto the scoreboard after 30 minutes.

Another high tackle saw Dereham with a penalty this time, and the chance to gain territory. However, the kick missed touch, Morrissey returned well, and James Taylor chased hard, pumped up on return to first team action. His tackle was hard and saw the Dereham wing pinged for holding on. Webb, who never looked like missing all game, duly added the three points to give Swaffham a 12-3 half-time lead.

Some good tactical kicking from the Dereham 10 put Swaffham under pressure, and a penalty was awarded for offside as Swaffham tried desperately, but illegally, to cut out the danger. 12-6 as the kick was smashed through the uprights.

The next 15 minutes saw both sides evenly matched, until Swaffham broke the Dereham line with number 8 Gladman set free after another lineout win from the towering Chamberlain. Unfortunately the subsequent kick had too much on it and went dead, gifting possession back to Dereham.

From the scrum, Dereham set their backs loose on the right and from this burst of pressure Swaffham were pushed back. Dereham chipped behind the Swaffham line, where Paul Taylor was on hand to collect beautifully whilst under pressure. His support couldn't arrive in time and a penalty was awarded for holding on. Again choosing to kick for goal, Dereham closed the gap to just three points with 20 minutes to go. Score: 12-9.

The crowd roared as the Swaffham team rose magnificently to dominate the final quarter of the match. From the restart the fire and passion of the early minutes came together with quite remarkable rugby to which Dereham had no answer. Veteran scrum-half Sparks commanded the pack that linked well with the exciting Swaffham backs who were taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

James Taylor with his strong, fluent running style was unlucky to be held up over the line after a textbook backs move left the wing open for his attack. There was a momentary pause in the game as both sets of forwards boiled over, the heat and desire of the local derby lowering the decorum for a short time.

Swaffham closed the match out in the best possible way, Morrissey seeing a gap in the defensive line and touching down beneath the posts off a neat scrummage. The conversion narrowly missed but more was to come. Fresh legs came on in the form of Dell Bartlett for the “Messiah”, Paul Taylor, at fullback.

DJ Barnard worked tirelessly in defence, putting opponents down hard all game. It was his big hit that gave Swaffham possession in open play as his opposite number spilled the ball on contact. The ball was kicked high and straight by Lines, and was chased by pace men Bartlett and Hamilton. Dereham hurriedly cleared the ball under pressure resulting in a Swaffham lineout on Dereham's 22. Gladman was substituted off for Wood, loud applause signalling the crowd's appreciation of Gladman's efforts.

The lineout was won by Matt Taylor, and on came the shove. Despite being well into the 77th minute Swaffham found the gumption and strength to drive Dereham back the whole 22 metres for Gunnell to touch down. The conversion flirted with the left hand post but the flags went up. Score:24-9.

Swaffham finished with a cracker, young Bartlett was fed flat ball from Morrissey and needed no second invitation to round his opposite number and touch down, again converted by Thurlow Nunn Man of the Match:Steve Webb.

Final score 31-9 and the magnificent men of Swaffham surge triumphantly to the Plate semi-finals.