Ipswich 19 Norwich 24
Norwich will be pleased to have got a bonus point win at Ipswich, a venue where they traditionally struggle, but they made it much harder than it needed to be, with their high error and penalty count.
The sides were evenly matched but it was Ipswich that struck first a couple of minutes into the game with a penalty in front of the posts from Elliot Siddle , who kicked superbly all afternoon.
Norwich started to get into the game but errors and penalties took the pressure off the home side when Norwich were in good positions.
Norwich then patiently built through the phases and a flowing backs move engineered some space, for Adam Huggins, who stepped two defenders, broke the tackle of a third to go over with a fourth trying to pull him down. The kick was missed.
Norwich lost JJ Raven to injury on about 15 minutes so No 8 Laurence Austin moved to 12. As a dominant Norwich scrum started to splinter their opponents 10 metres out, Dave Micklethwaite, who had moved to 8 in place of Austin, broke down the blind side and just made it to the line. Theo Elliott converted.
Ipswich hit back soon afterwards with a trademark powerful run, diagonally through the Norwich defence, by Tim Mann and Siddle converted from wide out on the right.
Ipswich were awarded another penalty in front, close to half time, which gave them a slender lead 13:12 at the break.
Ipswich stretched their lead ten minutes into the second half, with another faultless penalty kick by Siddle.
This was followed by a more controlled passage of play by the visitors with the ball carried well in one move, by Dave Micklethwaite and Jack Walsh in particular, that drew in the defenders and created space for Austin to go over wide on the left. Elliott landed a very good conversion taking the score to 16:19.
A familiar pattern followed with Norwich straying offside in the centre, this time, and Siddle levelled the scores. It was starting to look like a game of who blinked first as one piece of good play or an error was likely to decide the game.
Norwich had a piece of good fortune when, instead of clearing their lines, Ipswich decided to run the ball from just in front of their goal line and got turned over on the left touchline. Norwich powered forward through the phases and spun the ball out to the right, stretching the defence with Dave Micklethwaite firing a pass to his brother Rob on the right wing, who went over in the corner. The kick was missed.
There followed an intense ten minutes of Ipswich pressure, with some excellent tackling on Chris Blom and by Chris Parrott on Tim Mann, halting some very dangerous runs. Ipswich pounded the Norwich line but their defence held and eventually they were rewarded with a scrum for an Ipswich knock on. Play was halted at this point for a serious arm injury to an Ipswich player. We hope he recovers soon.
When play restarted, Norwich had two minutes to protect the ball and run the clock down, knowing that one error could spell disaster. They protected the ball well and with time up, they were awarded a penalty as Ipswich tried to get their hands on the ball illegally. Elliott took the tap and kicked the ball off the park to end a pulsating, if frustrating game.
A few more photos