Brentwood 30 Norwich 14
Norwich’s best performance of the season by far, was completely overshadowed by a serious head injury sustained by their Captain Matt Selby. The injury on 59 minutes caused the game to be suspended for nearly an hour before he could be moved from the pitch.
Play resumed on an adjacent pitch for the remaining 21 minutes. Norwich were clearly affected by the seriousness of the injury and despite no lack of effort, did not achieve the fluidity and composure that they had up to that point. For many periods of this match Norwich were the dominant team but came away empty handed again.
The visitors were under an initial onslaught from Brentwood but the defensive line held and they went on the attack. This earned them a penalty 35 metres out that slid just wide of the left upright.
Norwich showed adventure and creativity, moving the ball beautifully across the backs with just the occasional lack of precision keeping them from getting an early score.
Norwich’s lineout also functioned better than it has all season helping them to put the hosts under a lot of pressure.
However, Norwich did not kick well to touch and Brentwood were dangerous on the counter attack with some powerful runners that clawed back territorial advantage.
From one such passage and a penalty kick for a lineout in the corner, Norwich were able to stop the maul but, not the crash ball run that followed from 5 metres. The try was converted.
Norwich then lost a little composure at this point and on 25 minutes lost Phil Buckley to a yellow card, for coming in at the side and Mo Chisholm at the same time to injury.
Brentwood kicked the penalty to the corner and hammered away with pick and drive moves until they found a gap to go over. The kick was missed.
Norwich then got themselves back into the game with a lovely interception from Ollie Emanuel, who scored under the posts. Theo Elliott added the conversion.
With the first half nearly over, Brentwood kicked another penalty to the corner. They won the lineout and ran the ball forward, being awarded the try. This was harsh on the visitors as the ball was clearly knocked on over the line before grounding but the referee was unsighted and awarded it. The kick was missed and Norwich went in 17:7 at the break.
Shortly after the restart, Norwich worked the ball to the left and Stuart Martin made an excellent run down the wing and had Emanuel in support, who drew the last man and popped to Conan Hoey who went over between the posts, Elliott converting.
Norwich continued to play some excellent rugby and both sides had opportunities to score, Norwich knocking the ball on in sight of the line and Brentwood knocking on over the line again but this time in sight of the referee. That passage aside, Norwich looked the stronger team at this stage but all that was about to change.
Nineteen minutes into the half, there was then the prolonged break in play as Matt Selby collapsed after he got up from a scrum. Once play restarted, clearly affected by the injury to their teammate and the long break in play, Norwich lacked the fluidity that they had exhibited before the stoppage. The game was much more fragmented as the visitors tried to force things, seemingly desperate to get the next score. Two offside penalties were awarded against them and kicked by Brentwood to move the game to 23:14.
Norwich had a golden opportunity to claw their way back into the game, attacking inside the Brentwood 22 but a poor pass caused the move to break down.
Shortly afterwards Norwich were awarded a simple penalty in front of the posts but turned down the kick in pursuit of a try that they were unable to get.
With the play having become open and scrappy, Norwich lost their defensive composure and Brentwood made them pay down the left wing to score a very well executed try. The conversion went over and the game ended 30:14.
It was harsh conclusion to a thoroughly entertaining and even game of rugby but that was of little concern to the Norwich team whose thoughts were with their Captain, who remains in hospital.
Report – Andy Micklethwaite