Thetford beat Crusaders – and now try to dent their Junior Cup hopes

Thetford's Luke Bailey in action. Picture: William G Watson.

Thetford's Luke Bailey in action. Picture: William G Watson. - Credit: Archant

As the countdown to the end of the season continues, Thetford hosted third-placed Crusaders.

Will Martin in possession for Thetford. Picture: William G Watson..

Will Martin in possession for Thetford. Picture: William G Watson.. - Credit: Archant

The visitors were on a winning streak and Thetford were looking to bounce back from their shock loss to Wymondham.

Thetford head coach Nigel Brown had emphasised the need to cut down the penalty count that had reduced the team to 13 the week before. The players reacted by controlling most of the first 15 minutes. The forwards were winning clean ball in the line-out and found parity in the scrummage where Crusaders have a fearsome reputation. The backs, marshalled by Will Martin at 10, asserted their dominance.

Martin was first to secure points after an expertly-executed line-out move fed Jason Lumbard who drove deep into the Crusaders half. The ball was recycled quickly and Martin danced through the retreating defenders to score. Martin added another moments later after repeated infringements gave Thetford a penalty on their five-metre line. Martin’s quick thinking saw him take the penalty quickly and burrow over the line.

Crusaders cored next after some handbags in Thetford’s 22 meant the host were reduced to 14 for 10 minutes and to rub salt in the wound Crusaders kicked the penalty. Crusaders struck again five minutes later, adding another seven points to their tally.

The defensive effort from Thetford for the rest of the half was forcing errors from the Crusaders and a five-metre scrum for Thetford ended with a penalty. Captain Chris Thomas elected to kick for touch and the lineout was won by the returning Sean Groombridge. Quick hands fed the opposite wing who was held up just short before Josh Clark picked up the ball and dived over the line. The half finished with Thetford 21-10 ahead.

Crusaders hit back with a try, but Thetford responded with a length of the field effort involving Clark and Martin. Finished off by Martin under the posts. Luke Bailey went on a run from the kick off that ended up with a high tackle after he brushed off defenders. Martin stepped up and took the score to 31-15. Crusaders had the better of the last 10 minutes scoring twice, but the final whistle blew and the score stood at 31-25.

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Thetford now have to travel away to Crusaders to play in the Norfolk Junior Cup quarter-final.