GREENE KING IPA
EASTERN COUNTIES TWO
Hadleigh 33 Thurston 16
HADLEIGH Rugby Club’s head coach Adam Miles believes their title and promotion success achieved after beating challengers Thurston is that the seeds were sown with hard-working local talent.
Whereas in the past the club has imported success by bringing in players from all over the country and beyond, a return to their roots has now paid dividends in their first promotion in five years.
A jubilant Miles, whose side beat off an under-stregnth Thurston side in what was a title-showdown in front of a crowd of more than 100 at Layham Road on Saturday, said: “We have got there with local players while before we were bringing in players from left, right and centre.
“There is more satisfaction in this position of having built the club up from a local level.”
Three of Miles’ title-winning side have progressed up through the youth ranks and their coach has asked the veterans players for one more season to allow the club to bring through the next generation to replace them.
“We are just waiting for the trickle of boys to start coming through from the big group as we have a great youth and minis set-up now with 160 kids,” he added.
Hadleigh, playing an expansive easy-on-the-eye style of rugby this season, still have to travel to Felixstowe a week Saturday for the little matter of a derby game before completing their season but will look back on the Thurston game when they reflect on where the title was won.
Their opponents Saturday, missing seven players for various reasons, started strongly and converted an early penalty through captain Ben Sinclair.
Starting to dominate the set piece through, a Hadleigh scrum the ball was moved into the centres and Van Rensburg broke through the Thurston defence to score the first try, converted by Grant.
Another converted penalty for Sinclair saw the home side go into the break with a slender 7-6 lead.
After the break Thurston again came out the stronger side, but Hadleigh’s defence was superb and they were able to absorb all that was thrown at them.
Hadleigh started to take control of the game and soon realised that they could win if they could get quick, clean ball to the centres.
Pissaro and Kelly linked well to provide ball for Van Rensburg and Likenceva. The centre pairing started to break holes in the Thurston defence and it was only a matter of time before the tries started to come.
Likenceva scored with Grant converting. This was quickly followed by Warburton and Van Rensburg adding to the try count. The final Hadleigh try came from a great backs move which was finished by Hazelman on the wing.
Thurston rallied and came back at Hadleigh scoring a good try to make the score a respectable 33-16. However, they had left it too late and very soon the final whistle blew to cap a breathtaking display of rugby from both sides.