Ely 19 Norwich 31
An unusual fixture for our boys today as we were to be hosted by Ely Tigers, a club which doesn’t generally feature in our season; however a fixture which all were looking forward to with some trepidation having no real knowledge of our opposition.
We travelled in fair weather and were ever hopeful that we would miss any inclement weather, which may have been forecast.
Having survived the incessant murmurs of ‘are we there yet?’ and the odd marauding deer on the A11 we eventually arrived at Ely Rugby Club.
I had often wondered who would come out on top in battle the Lion or the Tiger and I guess we were all going to find out today.
The boys were put through their pre match warm up drills with their coaches, and looked like they were ready for the coming contest. Prior to the start of the game both sides received a pre match brief from the referee.
Having won the toss Ely elected to receive the ball at kick off, with an ever increasing expectation we waited with anticipation of a tough competitive game; we were not disappointed.
With the start of the game, Norwich did what Norwich does and that was to attack the opposition's defence and did it reasonably successfully; some very neat movement of the ball through the hands enabled Conor to take the ball and power through the Ely defence to score the first try of the morning.
Having conceded the first try Ely came out of the blocks like a steam train and really piled the pressure on Norwich. With some uncharacteristic ball handling errors and slipshod play around the loose ball by Norwich, Ely were able to counter Norwich’s early attack and score three try’s giving them a strong lead.
Whilst Norwich still suffered from ball handling errors they kept their heads up and worked tirelessly, making ground at every opportunity and making it difficult for Ely.
Norwich gained a lineout close to the Ely goal line, a nice throw in and catch, set up Norwich for a strong maul, however the ball was passed out of the maul ending up with Alvin who characteristically battled through the Ely defence to score his first try of the day. With the halftime whistle blown Ely led the first half 19 – 12.
Who ever said ‘it’s a game of two half’s” (I know it refers to that other game) really epitomised how this mornings play was going to develop.
The second half kicked off with both sides playing good competitive rugby, no quarter was given by either team, making for a very enjoyable spectacle.
Whilst we still had the odd ball handling error in the second half they were significantly reduced and Norwich started to dominate a strong Ely side.
Mention should be made of the defensive work done by Norwich who for a lot of the second half were defending in and around their 22 yard line; some excellent tackling from the backs especially Theo helped keep Ely at bay. It would be remiss to not mention the work done around the scrum, which was consistently good throughout the match.
However it wasn’t all about defensive effort and some improved groundwork from the forwards gave Norwich the edge they needed and early into the second half Jack was able to do what he does well, running with the ball; even if he had yours truly shouting “two hands two hands’, culminating in a try which was ably converted by Tom, even if assisted by the cross bar, bringing Norwich right back into the game.
Norwich continued to have the better rub of the ball and when Conor exploded down the wing having secured the ball from a rolling maul it seemed inevitable that Norwich would be rewarded with another try; unfortunately a lack of support and very effective tackling by an Ely player kept the ball up and the try was not given, unlucky Conor a good effort.
With the game nearly over Norwich were able to put the game to bed with two further try’s from Alvin who showed great power and fortitude to get across the line on both occasions. With Tom converting one of the tries, Norwich took the lead to the final whistle 19 - 31.
A great result away from home against a well-drilled competitive side, given the way both sides played it really could have gone either way.
Plenty of things for the coaches to take away and work with the boys on but from my perspective we were witnesses to what makes rugby great and why we as parent’s, coaches, spectators and players want to be part of the rugby family.
Well done boys a tough day at the office but you stuck with it, dug deep and came up with the goods when it mattered.
Forward of the day goes to Alvin and back of the day goes to Theo, well done.