Thetford and Swaffham meet as Eastern Counties rugby race goes to the wire
PUBLISHED: 00:27 28 March 2012
Felixstowe 8 Thetford 24
Thetford kept their title and promotion hopes alive with a workmanlike performance win at Mill Lane.
The result sets up a potentially nail-biting climaz to the Eastern Counties Division Two season, starting this weekend when the top four go head to head in the penultimate round of matches.
Thetford trail leaders Hadleigh by three points and Thurston and Swaffham by two. But they play Swaffham at home on Saturday while the top two meet at Hadleigh. They then finish their campaign at home to fifth-placed Mistley on April 14.
Swaffham, who thrashed Norwich union 57-10 on Saturday, have to beat Thetford in their last game and hope all the other results go their way on the final day.
Thetford went behind to a penalty at Felixstowe, who had the wind behind them in the first half and quickly got on the scoreboard with a penalty.
From the re-start Thetford turned up a level and began to pin the home side back before hitting back with a superb try. After some fantastic play from the pack the ball went through some slick hands before reaching Damian Smith-Taylor, who skinned his opposite man and raced under the posts to score.
With Thetford dominating the breakdown, Felixstowe became frustrated. But lapses in concentration by from the visitors gifted the men from Suffolk consecutive penalties which they turned into a try in the corner.
This galvanised Thetford and they went straight back up the other end to secure the lead with a well-worked backs move which released Tony Watson to score in the corner for a 12-8 interval lead.
The second half saw Thetford dominate pretty much from start to finish. With Taylor bossing the turnover, Felixstowe were struggling to deal with the intensity and it was only a matter of time before Thetford scored again.
From a solid scrum, Burnell fed Barry Scott, who on his return to first team action carved open the Felixstowe midfield before, with some great support, he passed to Matthew Bailey to score again under the posts.
With time running out now and Felixstowe well beaten, Thetford added salt to the wound with a score in the final minutes – a second try from Tony Watson.
“We needed a bonus point win here today and we got it,” said captain Liam Burnell. “It’s a difficult place to come and Felixstowe didn’t make it easy for us. The lads have done well.”
Thetford man of the match was Matthew Bailey, sensational in defence, and flamboyant in attack, capped off with a wonderful try.