Agony as injury-hit Thetford are denied by a late, late show

Will Chase in control for Thetford. Photo: Simon Ballard

Will Chase in control for Thetford. Photo: Simon Ballard - Credit: Archant

Leaders Thetford were narrowly beaten 7-5 when they travelled to Woodbridge in Eastern Counties One.

Thetford took to the field missing some regular players through injury and work commitments, but confident in the strength in depth – Will Chase had a standout performance on his his first team debut.

With the pack being led by the reliable Zak Pizzey and the backs following Matt Briggs’ lead, Thetford asked questions of the Woodbridge defence.

But it was not to be Thetford’s day. Starting with only two subs wasn’t ideal and after 20 minutes this was made worse by Thetford losing Briggs and an unfortunate clash of heads moments later saw Thetford lose stalwart Richard Sharp with a deep cut over his eye.

Thetford were faced with 60 minutes of rugby with no substitutes and Woodbridge pushed hard with their big ball carriers knocking on Thetford’s door.

The resilience of Thetford was to be tested even further when another player landed awkwardly coming down from a lineout and injured his knee. Peter Ford, Thetford’s physio, worked tirelessly trying to patch up the trio, to no avail and were down to 14 with 50 minutes left.

They made it to the break with the score 0-0. Woodbridge missed three penalty kicks and both sides were denied by a knock-on or a failed pass.

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With five minutes to go it would have been easy for both teams to accept the draw, but it was not in their character.

Adam Harper, now playing his third position on the day, took advantage of half a gap next to the ruck and exploded through handing off the full-back to score in the corner.

The try was not converted and with three minutes remaining Woodbridge rushed to the halfway line to restart the game. The ball was caught and recycled and Thetford tried to play the clock out only to be undone by a knock-on. The resultant scrum was won cleanly by Woodbridge and Thetford spent the next five minutes camped on their try line with all 14 men putting their bodies on the line.

With the cruellest of blows Woodbridge squeezed over the line and drew the score 5-5 – this time converted.