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U16s Woodforde Norfolk Cup Final
Diss 20-18 North Walsham Diss U16s regained the Norfolk Cup in a nail-biting final on a blustery, rainy day at Mackenders. The unprecedented result, the third time this Diss team have won the Cup after appearing in every final for the past four years, was a swan song for wing-forward Luke Beales, who leaves Diss to join Leicester Tigers Academy next season. It was a fine all round team performance by Diss the pattern set in the first 20 minutes when Diss seized on two penalty opportunities to take the lead. Tactical nous that probably earned the South Norfolk side the match with centre Josh Ludkin kicking intelligently, skilfully and accurately throughout the game. Both early penalties were the result of Diss pressure with the referee, who officiated at the Portugal V England youth game last month, spelling out at the beginning of the game that he would not tolerate any infringements, it was a hapless Walsham who put the ref to the test. Both penalties were ably converted by hooker Ben Askew, the Diss U16s very own Jonny Wilkinson, who took 10 of the 20 points and was the difference between the two teams, only missing one penalty kick in the whole game. In the wet conditions the heavier North Walsham pack were formidable but the Diss backs showed their worth with Diss and Eastern Counties centre Alex Kelsale gaining ground with several penetrating runs. Though the early infringements by North Walsham took the score to 6-0, they steadied and started to use their pack to lethal effect forcing Diss to concede a penalty in their 25 which was admirably converted by Josh Goldspink, who also joins Beales at Leicester. Despite their weight advantage North Walsham were not having it all their own way with scrummaging honours falling roughly even in the first half, though where North Walsham excelled was in the pressure they put upon scrum-half Matt Smith who had more than a fight on his hands to get the ball away to the backs. At this point Peter Bray, the Diss prop, was sin-binned for pulling down the scrum, a point that he vigorously contests but like many others he quickly realised the pointlessness of arguing with the ref’s decisions. Not so wise many of the spectators, who partially ruined a fine afternoon’s rugby by incessantly carping about decisions made by an RFU-appointed, impartial official from Lincolnshire. With the match finely balanced, Kelsale took a quick tap kick following another North Walsham infringement and burst his way through with a fine run over half the length of the pitch. Askew converted for 13-3. North Walsham replied, kicking for a line-out in the corner, their pack pushed over a maul to make the score 13-8 at half-time with Diss arguably having the better of it. North Walsham came out fighting, a quick break by their backs took the score to 13-13. A special note should be made here for Fullback Calum Duncan, Duncan has hardly put a foot wrong in his last three matches and today proved no exception, not once failing to read the ball, Duncan caught effortlessly and as ever ran tirelessly and bravely to head off Walsham incursions all game. Substitutions by Diss strengthened their pack with Josh Bailey coming off for second row Tom Warren, who set up a fine partnership with the indomitable Ben Fidler in the maul. With Fidler, Dom Croft, Henry Passmore and Eliot Page, showing in buckets the way they have been playing all season digging deep to keep defending and always driving to make ground. Diss’ initial attempts to break out proved fruitless with wings Paul Coomber and Lewis Davy being effectively snuffed out by the Walsham defence. But it was now Diss’ turn to fire with Kelsale taking the ball into the Walsham half to force a maul and Walsham once again conceding a penalty five metres from the line. Diss countered with Luke Beales running in a try in the ensuing melee, Askew converting to take the score to 20-13. And it was now North Walsham’s turn for the sin-bin with Goldspink this time being sent between the posts. As with Diss, going down to 14 men lifted the North Norfolk side and once again they ran a try into the corner. By now with the match at 20-18 and Walsham looking dangerous the Diss side dug in with a spectacular defence with fly half James Nicholls delivering several thundering tackles to halt North Walsham to win the game by the narrowest of margins. It should also be noted that this was a full turn-out, not only substitutes Lee Hales, Marcus Searle, Ben Roderick, Josh Self, Harry Foster-Wright turning out but the injured Shane Burrows and Mark Dungar, and former players Essa Bierton and Chris Gould all putting in an appearances.
Posted by Pete WarrenMar 22, 2007 @ 12:33

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