Union secure a semi final spot in the Norfolk Intermediate Cup
After beating West Norfolk at home in a thrilling game that went down to the wire
Match Report: Gareth Davis
Union were forced to make changes to the team, due to injuries and unavailability, but their strength in depth allowed them to field a competitive side.
Adrien Marie-Francoise came in at fly half and went about his game in an unfussy manner until a bang forced him off at half time, with Matthew Cook coming on.
The pack was unchanged with Simon Pitcher starting on the bench as Chris Spenceley came in and produced his best yet for Union with an excellent performance. Ryan Day started at lock with Matt Spenceley, and they worked well as a new combination. Even when Matt came off after a bang, Scrum half Lloyd Davis was thrown up to steal two of their line outs!
West Norfolk scored a well worked try in the opening stages of the game through their powerful centre who posed a threat all game. Union lost Craig Dunbar to the sin-bin for a no arms tackle, but coped admirably without him, as other players put in the extra effort required, as West came at the home team through the middle of the pitch, Union repelling West Norfolk’s charges. The returning Dunbar giving us fresh impetus making some hard yards.
Davis opened the scoring for Union following excellent long grubber into the corner from him which enabled us to gain a short-range line out and get our maul going. Despite strong defence from the visitors, Davis managed to scamper round the short side and score wide out, with conversion attempt coming back off the crossbar resulting in a two-point deficit at 5-7.
West Norfolk came back again, as yet again poor discipline led to a succession of penalties and allowing the visitors to benefit with territory and possession, ultimately leading to their second try under the posts, which they converted to take the score to 5-14.
However Union rallied and pegged the visitors back just before half time as a series of barges through our ball carriers, led by the back row of Jake Rodwell, Jonathan Spicker and Craig Dunbar, the ball eventually reaching Chris Spenceley who scored his first try for the club wide out which Davis converted to take the score at the break 12-14, with all to play for in the second half.
Coach Gareth Davis had a few words at half time and reminders on defence and discipline. The response was forthcoming as Ben Bond-Webster scored wide out from a catch at the lineout and driven maul, despite the conversion attempt drifting wide of the posts Union took the lead in the match of the first time at 17-14.
Matthew Cook then barrelled his way upfield, and good support running from www.osteostasis.com man of the match Callum Slaughter gave Union good field position. David Sheldon-Smillie was communicating very well from full back and contributed to the improved defensive sets with organisation much better in the second half.
Daniel Norgate and replacement wing Oli Ward then continued to the good work and kept West Norfolk quiet when they attacked. Ward replacing Tom Whipps who competed very well and contributed to Union’s overall performance.
Union were now in the ascendancy having out muscled West Norfolk in the tight Dunbar scoring after great succession of attacks with the Coach and Horses Player of the month Michael Shucksmith back to his best.
The last ten minutes saw a yellow card for Captain Simon Pitcher who found himself the wrong side of a ruck as the ref repeatedly penalised our indiscretions. West Norfolk were then awarded a penalty try after good approach play saw their player high tackled wide out in the act of scoring to set up a tense finale narrowing the score to 22-21.
Davis calmed the nerves a little with a well struck penalty and despite some good stuff from the visitors, Union held out to the final whistle despite being down a man.
After the game Coach Gareth Davis said “Beating higher league opposition was a great achievement. Hard work at training, talented newcomers such as Harry Calvert who had a solid debut, and our better structure saw us get the win. Competition for places in the squad, not just the starting 15 is increasing all the time. This competition drives us on as any complacency will be found out. Thoughts turn to the next tough four games where we look to cement our position near the top of the league. Onwards guys!”
Team: Michael Shucksmith, Ben Bond-Webster, Chris Spenceley, Ryan Day, Matt Spenceley, Craig Dunbar, Jake Rodwell, Jonathan Spicker, Lloyd Davis, Adrien Marie-Francoise, Daniel Norgate, Tom Whipps, Harry Calvert, Callum Slaughter, David Sheldon-Smillie Replacements:- Simon Pitcher, Oli Ward, Matthew Cook
Scorers:- Lloyd Davis 1T 1C 1P, Chris Spenceley 1T, Ben Bond-Webster 1T, Craig Dunbar 1T
www.osteostasis.com man of the match :- Callum Slaughter
Union are now through to the semi-final and face one of Beccles or Swaffham, Wymondham or Thetford who are yet to play their respective cup ties. The semi-finals are due to be played on 10th February 2018