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Depleted rugby club scrape a victory

By Jim Morgan at Hilltop Sports Ground, Swardeston, Norwich on Monday, 15th March 2010.

EASTERN COUNTIES LEAGUE DIVISION TWO: Lakenham Hewitt 8 Haverhill 10, match report.

Meeting for the first time this season, due to Lakenham's no show at Haverhill in October, a 'good on paper' side travelled to the A47 location of a side that has proved a nemesis for Haverhill in the past.

There were a number of missing names from the side, and a rugby season relies on playing nine games at home and nine games away and the commitment to play for the side home and away, and to sort out moves on the training ground on a Tuesday.

Lakenham started well, putting some good pressure on Haverhill but, on six minutes, a superb darting run from Simon Lester saw him break 30 metres to the Lakenham 22m line.

Lakenham came off their feet in the ruck, and the penalty was slotted over by Tom Chambers making the score 0-3.

The Haverhill scrum was working effectively, winning ball against the head, but losing ball in the ruck and maul, which will be severely punished by the three teams they have left to meet in the campaign.

On 15 minutes, Kevin Carr, playing another good game at the back of the pack, drove over the line, only to see the referee signal the ball had not been grounded. The resulting scrum led to a penalty, but this scrum was penalised for feeding the ball, and Haverhill lost ground.

Lakenham continued to pressure and got a line-out on the Haverhill 22m and drove the ball very effectively to five metres out.

Haverhill were penalised, and a quick take by Lakenham was missed by the Haverhill defence and saw them drive over the line. The conversion hit the post, making the score 5-3.

On 33 minutes, the Lakenham side, who had been using spoiling tactics all game to slow Haverhill down, were finally penalised with a yellow card.

With a man down, the hope was Haverhill would score a few points, but great play fizzled away, with bad hands, or just sloppy rugby, allowing the referee to penalise the team.

After the half-time break, Haverhill were penalised and, still with a man down, Lakenham increased their score to 8-3 with the resultant penalty.

The coaching staff were understandably looking worried and, having tried to rest Raffell for a week, turned to the talismanic skipper on 50 minutes, replacing Lee Eagle.

The pressure on Lakenham was now intense, and a great line-out by Raffell gave Tom Chambers the chance to go for the three points with a drop goal, which fell just short of the bar.

Full back Mike Woods was turning in another stoical performance, tackling anyone who came his way, and taking some superb high ball in his stride.

On 63 minutes, Haverhill hearts were in their mouths after being penalised 35 metres out. The resultant kick was wide, much to the relief of the travelling supporters.

This seemed to galvanise Haverhill and the pressure became intense. On 65 minutes, the referees' patience with Lakenham ran out again as the prop came in from the side in the maul, and he yellow carded the player.

Haverhill drove over the line, but again, the Lakenham defence held up the ball. The Haverhill scrum easily held the ball, and a pirouetting Raffell peeled off the back of the scrum and rolled across the defenders to score the vital try.

Knowing the importance of the conversion, Raffell stepped up to the tee and slotted the ball over to make the score 8-10 on 70 minutes.

The next ten minutes saw Haverhill pressurise, but again, ball was lost at the vital moment.

With five minutes to go, the Lakenham number eight drove to the Haverhill 22m line, where a crunching tackle from Woods stopped the charge and won the penalty for Haverhill to clear up field.

Haverhill got close again, but took the final whistle with relief.

If Haverhill play this way against Ipswich YMs next week, their closest rivals, then they will be notching up their second defeat of the campaign. First division rugby beckons next season, but life will be very hard and very short-lived in the top tier if the commitment to training and travel is not addressed.

Haverhill Online News

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