Rugby club makes history in consummate performance
By Jim Morgan at Castle Playing Fields on Tuesday, 29th November 2011.
SUFFOLK SHIELD FINAL: Haverhill 60 Felixstowe 5. Match report.
A huge crowd turned out to watch Haverhill host Felixstowe in the final of the Suffolk Shield completion.
In one-off shirts for the competition, the strongest Haverhill team to take to the field for a while looked exceptionally confident in their ability to wrest the trophy.
It had to be a very good Felixstowe performance to make a difference but so it seemed in the first minute.
The Haverhill line-out 'pods' failed to fire at the first Felixstowe line, making it uncontested. Quick ball for the opposition backs saw the Felixstowe winger cross the line in the corner for 0-5.
In a perverse way, this was the best thing that could have happened to Haverhill. Felixstowe walked to the centre line with a swagger of 'this will be easy' and Haverhill got the kick that they needed. To be perfectly honest, that was the end of the Felixstowe competitive contribution to the game.
From the restart, the ever present Carl Anderson harried the Felixstowe defence, setting up the ball for the Haverhill pack to drive and set.
Three phases saw the ball spun wide using all the backs for Brad Gibson to level the score at 5-5. The strong wind, which was difficult for both teams for the whole game took the Adam Hunt kick wide and short.
Haverhill dominated play and Hunt was again in the mix and was unlucky to be penalised as he picked the ball to break through for a score.
On eight minutes, the crowd was finally rewarded with the first scrum of the day. With a number of two-metre plus players in their side, Felixstowe's pack looked large and a possible match to the powerful Haverhill pack.
Haverhill destroyed the Felixstowe ball, winning against the head and broke out towards the Felixstowe line. Lovely quick hands saw Hunt release Joe Brown on the wing and a certain try, only to be called back for a forward pass.
On 11 minutes Haverhill won a penalty and a lovely drive from Ben Jackson saw a nice rolling ruck develop for Dave Quinney to plop over the line, keeping his scoring run going. Hunt converted to make it 12-5.
The Mark Jury/Adam Hunt combination was by now purring like a well-honed Rolls Royce, with Jury intelligently using the wind with clever chip kicks for Hunt and Stewart Newman to run on to, causing mayhem in the Felixstowe defence.
It was a nice Jury penalty of 70 metres to place the ball to five metres out that saw Anderson gather and a balletic Paul Bergin roll round and over the line for 17-5.
On the half hour, another Anderson line set saw skipper Hope spin quick ball to Jury who performed a great jinking move to split open the Felixstowe defence, timing his pass to Hunt to the second and a 40-metre run and over for 22-5. Hunt could not convert his effort on this occasion.
Haverhill continued to dominate and the comedic moment of the game came just before half-time when Bergin broke out down the wing, handing off the Felixstowe winger who ended up on his back off the park, only to be called back for a knock on.
At the turn, Haverhill were now playing into the wind, but this did not seem to make any difference to their play. On 44 minutes Haverhill won a scrum 15 metres out. The call from the crowd was to drive and this is exactly what Haverhill had in mind.
Having a strong scrum is only made good if the number eight knows how to control the ball at the back, releasing it or using it at the correct moment.
Chris Flannery excelled in this position and walking the ball towards the Felixstowe line picked and scored to make it 27-5. Alex Hieatt replaced Jackson in the front row at this break.
Locks Adrian Cooper and Martin Ramsome, not to be outdone by the more glamorous pack positions, were central to the ruck and maul, with Cooper often achieving the turnover ball by spoiling the Felixstowe work.
The lightning speed of flanker Ricky Brown in the breakdown and set piece was impossible for Felixstowe to cope with and ensured they never got into the game as a competition.
On 63 minutes another Haverhill scrum from ten metres saw a repeat of the Flannery move and a score close to the posts for Hunt to convert and 34-5. Brodie Patrick replaced Joe Brown on the wing and on 67 minutes, Ransome left the field to great applause from the crowd, and youngster Dom Farnell dropped into the back row, with Flannery moving to lock.
With this change, it may have been expected that honours would be even for the last ten minutes, but the Felixstowe ball was pushed off and Haverhill attacked again. A nice chip kick from Hunt saw the Felixstowe full back ground the ball for a Haverhill five-metre scrum.
The ball was set well, Anderson at number eight released to Hope, who spun out along the line. With the masterful full back Mike Woods up in the line, the overlap was ensured, but not required, as Hunt crashed over for 39-5.
Within two minutes, Haverhill were back again for Jury to score after a great Hunt/Newman breakout for Hunt to convert and 46-5.
With three minutes to go, the crowd witnessed the best try scored in memory after a running backs and forwards passing move saw the ever-present Bergin emerge from the melee on the line for Hunt to convert and 53-5. With 90 seconds to go, it could not get any better, but the team had other ideas.
A penalty to Haverhill between their 22 and ten-metre lines would normally be kicked towards the corner. However, Jury had other ideas and tapped through the mark for Flannery to continue the run.
What must have involved all the players and a riot of running from the backs and forwards alike finally saw Newman release Gibson on the wing for him to slide past the winger and under the posts for Hunt to make it the round 60 points and the ecstatic crowd cheering the final whistle.
This truly was one of the best displays of rugby seen at the Castle Fields and, having watched a lot of professional rugby, would have graced a number of better-known named parks like Welford Road or The Stoop. Felixstowe were good opposition but were completely blown away here.
Jacob Plumridge needs to be congratulated on what he has bought to Haverhill rugby over the last ten months and all are hoping to see him well enough again and playing his expansive style of rugby once more.
Haverhill now has the excitement of playing in the Suffolk Plate in the New Year, with Woodbridge visiting in January (date to be confirmed)
With three games in three weeks against Ipswich away and Harwich and Stowmarket at home, the run-up to Christmas will be decisive as to whether Haverhill will lift the league trophy as well this year.
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