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Home Junior Cup semi-final sealed by Thetford

PUBLISHED: 17:40 16 March 2016

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2010

Thetford will host West Norfolk in the semi-finals of the Norfolk Junior Cup.

The red and whites withstood a brave fightback from Crusaders to claim a 30-26 win at Little Melton and reach the semi-finals.

The home defence struggled to cope with the pace of Will Martin and Josh Clarke and Matt Briggs gave Thetford the lead with a penalty.

The visitors tightened their grip on the game and with good straight running and support play Clarke touched down by the posts for Briggs to convert.

A neat chip over the defence by Briggs and a kind bounce then gave Will Martin a clear run in to make it 17-0 to Thetford.

Crusaders were finally shaken into action and Ryan Harris was held up inches short of the line. The hosts were pressing hard but were rocked back on their heels when Martin intercepted a hesitant half-back move to sprint the full length of the field to touch down under the posts, with Bridge converting.

Crusaders needed a score before half-time and it was the forwards who obliged, Peter Blinkhorn touching down out wide from a pushover scrum, the kick being missed.

Briggs then added to his impressive contribution with a well-struck penalty to make it 5-27 at the break.

Crusaders set about their task in determined fashion with their forwards bossing the scrums and breakdowns.

A hard-earned try by Blinkhorn after the No8’s driving run and an equally impressive try by George King, both converted by Jonathan Payne, gave them hope. But Thetford broke out of their half and added a further Briggs penalty.

Crusaders continued to press and a well-placed kick from Payne was collected by Harris who touched down, with Payne converting to bring his side within four points – but that’s the way it stayed.

Thetford will host West Norfolk in the semi-finals while Dereham play host to Lowestoft & Yarmouth, with the games scheduled for Saturday, April 9.

Thetford return to league action on Saturday when they travel to Suffolk to take on Woodbridge in Greene King IPA Eastern Counties One.

Ben Scully’s team will be looking to build on their 27-10 home victory over Wisbech in their last league game, which leaves them comfortably in mid-table in sixth place with four games left to play.

Woodbridge go into the game in fourth place, having won 17-10 at Mersea Island in their last fixture.

Thetford’s second team will look to ease their relegation worries in Eastern Counties Three North when they host Norwich Union, who are flying high in third place.

Only Lakenham Hewett sit below Thetford in the table, due to points deductions, with Thetford having lost their derby clash at Watton 45-0 in their last fixture.

There was encouragement in a 24-22 at Crusaders seconds at the end of last month though, with four games now left to play.

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