Rugby club share honours with all-conquering visitors
By Jim Morgan at Castle Playing Fields on Monday, 21st November 2011.
SUFFOLK MERIT LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Haverhill 13 Diss Saracens 13. Match report.
With front row colossus Dr Alex Hieatt on the subs bench the large Haverhill crowd were expectant for what the Haverhill starting front row of Ben Jackson, Paul Bergin and Dave Quinney had to offer the runaway league leaders Diss.
In three minutes the answer was anything and everything - two scrums against the head and their own so solid it was obvious Diss were going to struggle and a final match statistic of zero scrums won.
With this total scrimmaging domination, why did Haverhill not walk this game? The simple answer is lack of practice in other set pieces like line-out ball and some poor phase ball passing. Get training as a unit and nothing will stand in this teamís way.
Great praise should be sent the way of Jake Plumridge, who is cutting his teeth coaching the team and has instilled some great work ethic and ideas into the side which the players are responding to, but he needs the commitment to ensure he can continue his journey as a coach.
Haverhill took 20 minutes to get on the scoreboard, after a 'handbags at dawn' incident with Mark Jury and the Diss open side flanker saw both players resting for ten minutes.
A penalty was kicked to five metres out by Adam Hunt and the resulting line-out ball was gathered and a drive ensued. The newly svelte Quinney was on hand to pick and drive, using his awesome strength to part the Diss defence and a 5-0 score.
A break by the ever-dangerous Diss backline on 25 minutes saw the complete player that Mike Woods has become stop the advance dead, when a try was the only outcome if the tackle was missed.
However, Diss were not to be kept out when, on 30 minutes, another good line-out from Diss was spun wide and into the corner for 5-5.
Jury returned to the field of play and set a nice grub kick for Hunt to run on to and if the bounce had been slightly better, the try was a certainty, but it led to a scrum for Haverhill to turn over.
A penalty to Haverhill on 33 minutes was converted by Hunt for 8-5 and this was how the teams turned at half-time.
With the teams evenly matched in the loose play, it was always going to be a tight second half. On 55 minutes, some undisciplined play in the breakdown saw Diss draw level on 8-8 with a penalty.
Haverhill took man of match Jackson off to be replaced by Hieatt. Diss looked happy at this until the next scrum where they were completely demolished in the set play.
With Haverhill now camping in the Diss half, it was not surprising that some great pick and drive rolling ball from all forwards saw Ricky Brown scoring for 13-8 on 60 minutes. The Hunt conversion attempt was just wide.
On 65 minutes the Diss fly half gave a speculative kick to the corner. An attempted gather from winger Joe Brown only succeeded in presenting the ball to the chasing Diss backs and after a few tackles a try resulted and 13-13. The kick went wide to the crowd's relief.
Ricky Harris replaced the injured skipper Gavin Hope and was in the mix from the start. Haverhill continued to dominate and then, with eight minutes to go, a very questionable refereeing decision saw Harris binned when attacking ball from the back of the ruck on the Diss ten-metre line. This was a harsh decision and meant Haverhill were a man down for the rest of the game.
However, no one seemed to have told Haverhill this and for the final, what should have been eight but was only five, minutes they just pressurised the Diss line, but could not get the score that they deserved.
For a side that has beaten all before them, this was a wake-up call for Diss and a good performance from Haverhill.
What was good was the real disappointment of the Haverhill side at the end knowing they had missed the opportunity to totally announce to Eastern Counties that they have served their time in the wilderness of the Suffolk Merit League Division One and are worthy of the return to the Eastern Counties League Division Two for next season.
It's a huge week next week with the final of the Suffolk Plate versus Felixstowe at the Castle Fields ground with a 2pm kick-off to allow for extra time if required.
It is five years since the last attempt at silverware was unsuccessful, so a good crowd cheering the side on will help give them that little bit extra to bring home the prize.
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