Thetford narrowly beaten by league leaders Southwold
- Credit: Submitted
Thetford went down to a brave defeat against leaders Southwold on Saturday after an impressive display.
The odds were never in the home side’s favour against a team that was looking for its 15th straight win but Thetford certainly made the leaders work for the points.
The heavy snow that started half an hour before the game and carried on right to the final whistle made conditions very hard for both teams, in a game littered understandably with dropped passes from both sides as the players hands froze and passing rugby became almost impossible, as did throwing the ball in accurately at lineouts.
Great credit should be given to both sets of players for the standard of play they achieved and both sets of supporters gave a great ovation at the end of the game by way of recognition in what could only be described as freezing blizzard like conditions.
Wold were the first to put points on the board from a Chippy Middleditch penalty.
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Seven minutes later the Wold front row, who were giving their opposite numbers a torrid time at all scrums, again applied massive pressure and as the Thetford scrum began to lift and break up only 10 metres out, the ball popped out on the open side and Jonny Stevenson at flanker pounced on the loose ball to smash his way over for Wold’s first try.
However, the conversion was narrowly missed to leave Wold with only an eight-point advantage.
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The game was being played at a frantic pace with Wold shading the territorial advantage with the wind behind them, but despite that fact it was Thetford’s turn to score next when they were awarded a penalty 15 minutes before half-time when the Wold backs came up too quick and were adjudged offside at a ruck and the gap was narrowed to a mere five points after a well-taken kick against both the snow and the wind by Will Martin.
Adam Smith muscled his way over for Southwold to make it 15-3 with the conversion, but Thetford got back into the game in the second half with the wind in their favour.
As the half progressed Thetford came on stronger and stronger and an illegal tackle from Rob Owles after quarter of an hour led to a yellow card and life got even tougher for Wold with the fly half being sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
Thetford took due advantage and camped for six minutes or so in the Wold 22 before eventually breaking the Wold defence with winger Matt Duggan running round the outside of the Wold back line in the right hand corner and continuing his run behind the line to touch down under the posts.
A deserved try was easily converted by Martin to bring the scores to 10-15 – which was to prove to be the match’s final scoreline.
Wold did have chances to increase their lead, with Darius Mullen on the wing coming closest when he was desperately but well tackled only a metre short of the line after a strong run.
Thetford, however, had the better of the final quarter and pushed and pushed for the equalising try, but Wold refused to buckle under the pressure and held on to win and preserve their 100pc record.
The final whistle saw all players head for the warmth of the showers as quick as possible after handshakes and congratulations all round, which highlighted the great spirit this game was played in under near impossible conditions which hopefully will not be repeated this weekend when Thetford go to Crusaders, who sit two places below their visitors, in sixth place.