Crusaders and Thetford went head-to-head for a second weekend running - with Thetford again coming out on top in a tight encounter.

Thetford & Brandon Times: Thetford on their way to victory. Picture: Paula GroombridgeThetford on their way to victory. Picture: Paula Groombridge (Image: Archant)

The previous weekend the Breckland outfit had won 31-25 in the Eastern Counties One to all but clinch the title and on Saturday they scored a late try to edge home 22-21 in the first round of the Norfolk Junior Cup.

The game picked up where the two teams had left off the week before with both packs crashing into each other and Thetford’s backs running riot off quick ball.

The opening touchdown was a try of the year contender – with quick ball from a scrum Will Martin passed to Harper who in turn fed Josh Clark who charged down the wing, brushing off six defenders to score from his own half. Crusaders looked rattled and found themselves on the wrong end of numerous penalties, one of which Martin took quickly and stepped his way through to score. With the score 12-0 inside the first 15 minutes it looked like being plain sailing – but Crusaders had other ideas and scored a try.

Thetford rallied and big carries from Luke Bailey, Jasper Spencer and the impressive Mitch Steven worked them into the Crusaders’ half. Another penalty allowed Martin to extend Thetford’s lead to beyond a converted try (15-7). Just before the half finished Crusaders dealt Thetford when their big number eight peeled off and crashed over the line.

For 30 minutes of the second half both teams fought hard but all efforts returned fruitless until two rogue Crusaders backs found themselves in the open and ran a move that split the tired Thetford defence and a soft pass found the centre who scored. The fly-half duly converted and for the first time in the game they were ahead 21-15. This woke Thetford up and moments later the forwards were picking and going at the Crusaders line. Another rogue player, this time Thetford full-back Martin, found himself drawn in and took the ball over like a natural forward. The conversion was successful and the score was 22-21. In the cruellest of blows for Crusaders, with 80 minutes played their backline was called offside and captain Chris Thomas kicked to touch – and Thetford move on to face Swaffham in the semi-finals.