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Promoted rugby club still in title hunt

By Jim Morgan at Castle Fields, Haverhill on Monday, 29th March 2010.

EASTER COUNTIES LEAGUE DIVISION TWO: Haverhill 23 Hadleigh 14, match report.

Haverhill Rugby Club won promotion to the Eastern Counties Division One on Saturday, and still have a hope of taking the Division Two title.

League leaders Harwich drew with their local rivals Mistley, and have to visit the in-form Ipswich YM side, who have won their last nine games and not lost at home all season, so there is all for Haverhill to fight for at Swaffham in two weeks' time.

Haverhill started very badly, going two converted tries down inside seven minutes and looking nothing like a polished team. With the crowd offering some 'advice' after the second score, Haverhill seemed to wake up.

Within three minutes Haverhill were on the scoreboard after some sustained pressure of quick penalties and driving in the forwards saw the ever hard-working Paul Bergin crashing through to score. The Plumridge conversion missed.

Haverhill were back in the Hadleigh half immediately, and the scrum, welcoming back front row players Grant Deeks after injury and Dave Quinney Jnr after a stint of chasing little balls around the golf course, started to dominate. With Bergin's hooking as sharp as ever, Haverhill started to win ball against the head at will.

On 15 minutes, another scrum was won against the head and a rucking game ensued. Adrian Cooper opened up the Hadleigh defence with a drive of real quality, gaining good ground.

Quick ball from Simon Lester allowed Adam Hunt through, jinking expertly past two defenders to score under the posts. Plumridge stepped up and slotted the ball over the posts to make it 12-14.

Hadleigh struggled to break into the Haverhill half and good defending tackles from all aspects of the team led to ground being made in defence.

On 25 minutes, Haverhill drove Hadleigh off the ball again in the scrum and won a penalty. The Plumridge boot was firing well now, and the kick gave Haverhill a 15-14 lead.

They were a bit sloppy in their handling, but won a line-out ten metres from the Hadleigh line. A four-man line-out was called, but the throw-in was so bad it did not get near any of the players and led to a Hadleigh scrum.

Hadleigh finally broke into the Haverhill half, and Haverhill were penalised for throwing the man down in the tackle. The kick was just missed by the Hadleigh kicker.

Haverhill broke out with a nice flowing move along the line. The Hunt pass to Brodie Patrick was deflected by a Hadleigh player, leading to a knock-on. Without this, Patrick would have been in open space.

Haverhill went to the turn one point up and, from the restart, pressurised the Hadleigh line, but handling kept letting them down and Hadleigh off. A Plumridge long pass was almost intercepted, but luckily knocked on.

On 55 minutes, Adam Hunt had a great run to gain 30 metres and put pressure on Hadleigh's line. Tony Smith replaced Martin Ransome and Luke Dore replaced Quinney in the front row.

Again the Haverhill scrum won against the head and quick ball to Tom Chambers, then Hunt and finally Andy Pantling on the wing, saw the ball over in the corner for 20-14.

The tricky kick was missed by Plumridge, who then knocked on from the restart for Hadleigh to pressure the Haverhill line.

Haverhill won the scrum against the head, but infringed and Hadleigh had a penalty on the 22m line. To total silence, the kick was missed, and Haverhill cleared down into the Hadleigh half.

Alex Wong replaced the injured Kevin Carr, and was immediately in the action, driving out of the maul to gain valuable yards.

Chambers, running from some amazing angles all match, punched a huge hole in the Hadleigh defence. With Raffell in attendance, the move kept going, but the pass from Hunt was deemed forward, as Patrick was about to cross the line.

Hadleigh cleared, but Bradley Gibson collected and ran 50 metres straight back at Hadleigh to win a penalty in front of the posts. Plumridge happily took the points, and the crowd knew that, with eight minutes left, 23-14 was not going to be turned over.

Hadleigh had other ideas, and some great tackling from Chambers and Gibson was needed to the line safe.

Penalty after penalty was conceded in the desperate defence and the referee yellow carded Hunt and Carl Anderson for repeated infringements.

Hadleigh broke through again, and with a massive overlap, the inevitable try was coming, only for Hadleigh to pass the ball forward and the referee blew for the end of the game.

A win is a win when it seals promotion.

Congratulations to coach Price, who said he would get the club to Division One in three years, and it has been achieved in two. There are also unsung heroes of the team, and they are Tony Hope and Paul Raffell, both of whom are stepping back at the end of the season.

With the trip to Swaffham now having real meaning, it will be a great day on April 10 for in Norfolk.

Haverhill Online News

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