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Rugby club on cloud nine after nine straight wins

By by Jim Morgan at Layham Road, Hadleigh on Monday, 25th January 2010.

EASTERN COUNTIES LEAGUE, DIVISION TWO: Hadleigh 12 Haverhill 18, match report.

While Hadleigh are mid-table, this is partially due to a points reduction carried over from the previous season, so this away trip was never going to be the easiest for Haverhill.

Fielding a strong side, Haverhill were pleased to be playing again after a seven-week lay off due to the weather, shown by a following of supporters that outnumbered the home support.

The Haverhill scrum looked very solid in the opening stages of the game, and the educated hands of Mark Jury at fly half added stability to a back line that has struggled this year due to injury. The influence of the Jury/Adam Hunt combination was clear to see from the off.

On 12 minutes, a speculative kick forward by Hadleigh allowed the mid-Suffolk side into the Haverhill half for the first time in the game.

The Haverhill defence allowed the ball to bounce, resulting in Hadleigh winning a scrum on the Haverhill 22m line.

Quick pressure from Ricky Harris as the ball came out of the back of the Hadleigh scrum was penalised and a quick penalty resulted in Haverhill letting Hadleigh over close to the upright, for a converted try for 7-0.

Haverhill came back at Hadleigh winning a free kick and ultimately a penalty in front of the posts, to again miss the opportunity to take the points by trying to use the quick penalty, only to lose the ball, and allow Hadleigh to clear their line.

The Haverhill pack were dominating the line-out and won the ball back, but on 18 minutes, another infringement from the scrum allowed Hadleigh to kick for goal, missing slightly to the right of the upright.

Full back Mike Woods cleared the ball and ran 30 metres up the pitch, where Hadleigh infringed, allowing Jury to clear to the Hadleigh 22m for a Haverhill line-out.

A superb piece of play followed. Raffell gathered to Harris, out to Jury and a nice run from Hunt opened the Haverhill line.

The ball was passed along the line to all back players, where Hunt, who had swung round the back, received a great pass from Brodie Patrick to crash over the line in the far corner from the line-out, making the score 7-5 on 21 minutes. Jury's kick fell short from the difficult position.

Haverhill attacked Hadleigh from the off, and after an intense period of play, prop Grant Deeks crashed over the line in the corner on 28 minutes after the fifth phase of attack. The conversion just missed the upright, making the score 7-10.

The next 12 minutes saw some great play from the Haverhill back row of Chris Flannery, Carl Anderson and Raffell, never allowing Hadleigh to settle, until, on the stroke of half-time, Hadleigh infringed, allowing Jury to kick a 45-metre penalty to make the score 7-13 at the whistle.

On the restart, Jury picked out a weakness on the Hadleigh wing, winning the knock on, and Haverhill pounced again. The solid scrum allowed the ball quickly out to Jury, who let Hunt over to score, only to be called back for a marginally forward pass.

The resulting scrum for Hadleigh was won against the head by the great work of Matt Stephenson, allowing skipper Raffell to break out of the back of the scrum.

With three men outside, a quick dummy pass allowed Raffell to punch his way over the line for an unconverted try, making the score 7-18 on 43 minutes.

Haverhill seemed to go to sleep now for 15 minutes. Having only been in Haverhill's half once in 45 minutes, Hadleigh put on pressure, but Haverhill defended well.

A charged-down clearance from Jury put immense pressure on the Haverhill defence, but Hadleigh were not able to break through, and Haverhill finally cleared.

On 60 minutes Alex Wong was replaced by the lithe Paul Bergin. Bergin went to hooker, Stephenson to flanker and Flannery moved to second row.

The next scrum saw Haverhill destroy the Hadleigh set piece completely, but the referee recalled the scrum.

Hadleigh won ball on 65 minutes and a great speculative kick 60 metres upfield saw Mike Woods penalised for not releasing the ball.

The quick penalty saw Hadleigh cross the line in the corner for 12-18. Twice Haverhill were undone by the quick penalty, and this is something for the training ground to sort out.

The next 15 minutes had Haverhill camping in the Hadleigh half, with many good moves just coming up short. A penalty on 70 minutes just scraped past the upright, and an attempted Jury drop goal with two minutes to go, that would have settled the match, only just missed.

Hadleigh tried to break out, but they had no answer to the Haverhill defensive line, and Haverhill took the whistle, to the delight of the sizable travelling contingent.

Haverhill 1st XV play the Norwich side Lakenham Hewitt away next on Saturday in Eastern Counties II, kick off 2pm.

This will be the first meeting this season, as LH failed to turn up in October, much to the chagrin of the Haverhill team management and supporters.

* Our picture shows Ricky Harris (behind ref) clearing Haverhill turnover ball.

Haverhill Online News

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