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Match Report

Crusaders 2's 20 Norwich AXV 29

15/09/2019

Crusaders 2's 20 Norwich AXV 29

Norwich 3s started the season in great form as they took a trip across the city to Little Melton, where a strong Crusaders 2s awaited. Norwich had just one sub and so there was no doubt that there would be 80 minutes of hard graft ahead of them. This was made even more apparent as the tireless work-horse A.Vincent went down with a knee booboo about 30 minutes in and the medic called time on his days work.

The game began after a quiet warm up in the Norwich camp and fears were that the intensity needed had yet to show face. This permeated past the starting whistle and Crusaders began with the aggression that Norwich had yet to find. The lethargy of the summer break clearly still present in some of the AXV limbs. That being said, a solid fifteen minutes saw no score conceded and a good few threatening plays from the visitors, falling only just short. The Norwich forwards attacked with structure and determination on every carry. Where Crusaders had excellent and dangerous individual runners it seemed Norwich had the measure of attacking in pods, with the ball carrier well supported and the ball better secured than a high-profile felon in solitary at Her Majesty’s service.

In defence too, Norwich applied pressure at every phase, quicker off the line than Usain Bolt at the World Athletics in Berlin 2009. This resulted in the first score of the game as inside centre D Anderton bolted through the opposition 10-12 channel to intercept the fly-half’s distribution. A healthy 50 metres to cover, Anderton saw his way under the posts to give the Norwich 10 an easy kick. 0-7.

After a short while Crusaders hit back and saw themselves over in the corner their dangerous runners punishing a Norwich defence which, like eggs on a low heat, was slow to scramble. The home kicker not quite making the extras, 5-7.

The home side didn’t relent and whilst on the whole the Norwich D was strong, a single missed tackle was swiftly punished by an aptitude at flooding through by the Crus runners. Another try came through strong carries and deft offloading. No conversion, however. 10-7.

With the World Cup around the corner, there has been plenty of debate about those top-flight players left out. However, Eddie’s loss is another’s gain as the recently snubbed Danny Cipriani was able to slot in at ten for the AXV and, about 25 minutes into play he nudged the pill over the top of the home sides back line for a chasing D Anderton to gather and cross under the posts for his second. Another gift to convert, extras added. 10-14.

This was almost replicated to perfection as the selfless Norwich Fly Half spotted space behind the Crus line and sent another kick over the top to a chasing E. Hodges, who had excellent wheels. The ball fell sweetly into the hands of the chaser who had less than 5 metres to the whitewash and covered that with the lengthy strides of an East African giraffe. He was brought down over the line by a courageous cover-tackler, so all that was needed was to fall on the ball and the try would be scored, five points in the bag, thank you very much. Unfortunately in a freak occurrence, Hodges threw the ball forward and earned himself nothing more than a unanimous DOD title.

The half time talk was a positive one Norwich felt they had the measure of their oppo and were clear about the work-ons needed for the second half; strength in the tackle and better support in the go-forward. It was also noted that very few lungs were aching and the break passed without shortness of breath. Whilst the lads were working hard, there was still a lot more in the tank. The directive was clear, up the work rate from 70% to 100 and away they went. The second half, despite going uphill was a far stronger one for the visiting outfit.

Norwich battered their way upfield with their organised and powerful pods, the forwards outdoing themselves at the breakdown and, in defence, plenty of turnovers were earned through some effective contesting at the ruck. A third Norwich try came shortly in to the second half when a well- executed move saw 12 run a dummy line and the ten throw an outrageous forty metre pass (probably) to winger D. Philpott who hugged the touch line, caught the ball well, saw space in front and put on the afterburners to see himself over for his first Norwich try. Unfortunately, being new to the team Philpott hasn’t yet learned the etiquette of scoring closer to the posts for the benefit of the kicker... Conversion missed. 10-19.

Crusaders responded well and saw their way over in the corner after not too long, their kicker still unable to add the extras but the 5 was more than enough to keep the pressure on their visitors. 15- 19.

With time ticking on, minds turned toward the precarious dangers of the final fifteen minutes. It was agreed that at the next opportunity, Norwich should try to close out the game with points from the tee. After a series of infringements from the home side, a penalty was awarded in very kickable range and Matt “Cipriani” Cole-Wilkin stepped up to send the ball over for 3. 15-22. The cushion of at least a converted try, with which Norwich felt confident to push on and drive home the win.

The fourth and final Norwich try came after the immutable M Barber charged up field on his own, channeling his inner Rambo. He fended several would-be tacklers and gained 40 metres of territory before finally being wrapped up. Still managing to keep his head up he heard the cries of the on- rushing MCW who chased up in support, a delightful offload from Barber saw MCW through a gap and he even managed to step a modest two or three players, before G Holdgate caught up and offered an excellent support line. A two-on-one with the Crusaders full back and MCW did the unimaginable; he passed. Holdgate charged the remained three or four feet and put down under the posts. Conversion made, 15-29.

The final ten minutes had plenty of life left in it and Crusaders saw their way through for another unconverted try, Norwich still needing to work on their tackling and threat identification. There followed a few minutes of back and forth where Norwich managed to triumph as their strength and fitness began to edge their hosts, to whom huge credit is due as the contest was a fiery and fierce one.

Final whistle; 20-29.
MOM - Dean Anderton for two tries and a tireless work-rate in all areas of the game for the full 80. DOD
– Ed “Ben Kay” Hodges. He knows what he did.

 
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