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Good effort by rugby club against top opposition

By Jim Morgan at Castle Playing Fields on Monday, 7th February 2011.

GREENE KING EASTERN COUNTIES RUGBY LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Haverhill 12 Stowmarket 33, match report.

When facing the runaway leaders of the league, who put 106 points on the board earlier in the season, being 0-7 down inside the first minute of the contest could have led to the cricket score Stowmarket had been expecting.

The huge wind of Saturday was always going to be a factor in the game and Haverhill used it very well.

Haverhill restart and won a penalty, which Jake Plumridge pushed just wide of the post. The 22m drop-out was deep and Mike Woods returned the ball with interest and the resulting ruck allowed Plumridge to kick the ensuing penalty to 10m out.

A brilliant catch by Chris Flannery at the front of the line led to a good drive from the pack. The crowd were ecstatic when the referee’s arm was raised for the Flannery try on six minutes. The kick is missed right.

Haverhill were competing well in the scrum, maul and ruck and on the whole won their line ball, but the strong wind made this element of the game a bit of a lottery. It was from a lost line-out that the very quick three-quarter line of Stowmarket achieved their next score on 15 minutes making the score 5-14.

It is not often this season that we have seen Haverhill applying really hard pressure on the opposition line, but the Haverhill pack took the fight back to an increasingly rattled opposition.

Every man in the pack was in the mix, driving and setting the ball. It was only an infringement on the try line that allowed Stowmarket to clear their line.

A Haverhill clearance from a Stowmarket attack to their 10m line allowed Stowmarket to use their polished set piece. The ball was spun quickly out and the inside centre punched a hole into the Haverhill line. This was crucial and the winger crossed the line for a converted try on 15 minutes, making the score 5-21.

Sustained tackling in the backs, with Mike Woods, Brad Gibson, Joe Brown, Dan Bishop, Brodie Patrick, Hope and Plumridge putting in hit after hit told on the Stowmarket attack, with a number of infringements being met with backchat and extra yards for Haverhill.

Again Haverhill camped in the Stowmarket half and super driving from Ransome, Cooper, Flannery, French and Bergin got the ball tantalisingly close to the Stowmarket line, only for Stowmarket to steal a metre short.

In the dying seconds of the half, Mike Woods puts in a tackle that saved a certain try and allowed Haverhill to go to the turn 5-21 down.

The restart saw Simon Lester on the wing, Patrick into the back row of the scrum and Dan Harris replaced.

Within seconds Haverhill won the ball after Joe Brown felled his opposite number and brother Ricky cleaned up the ball.

Haverhill soaked up pressure and cleared to the Stowmarket 10m line. Again, the Stowmarket line-out ball was quick and the No8 broke out, achieving an overlap. This was ruthlessly taken and Stowmarket crossed the line on 48 minutes for an unconverted try.

Another Haverhill catch and drive was superbly executed and the crowd cheered as the referee put his hand up – but unfortunately for a Haverhill infringement on the line rather than the try. Injured skipper Hope was replaced by Neil Richards, with Lester dropping into the scrum half position.

There then followed an interesting few minutes which resulted in the Stowmarket coach being sent from the pitch for having left his technical area.

On 70 minutes, Stowmarket pressured the Haverhill line and as they spun the ball wide, Plumridge interceptws and ran the full length of the pitch, showboating from half way, to score under the posts, converting his effort for 12-26 and huge enjoyment of the large Haverhill crowd.

There was beginning to be some late hits by the Stowmarket players, resulting in attacks for Haverhill, but nothing was converted into points.

On 75 minutes, Stowmarket crossed the line for the last time making the score 12-33.

With a minute to go, Plumridge picked up a straight red card for backchat to the referee, but the Haverhill crowd met the final whistle with great pleasure for a truly good performance against a team of the quality of Stowmarket.

Next week Haverhill travel to Harwich for the re-arranged game lost to the weather in December. With a number of injuries and a possible suspension the hope is they can field a team to carry on the pride of the town.

Haverhill Online News

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