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Hadleigh Rugby Club are Eastern Counties League Greene King 1 South champions with a game to spare after comeback at Ipswich Magpies

By Sport Sudbury

Hadleigh ensured they sealed top spot in Eastern Counties League Greene King 1 South with a game to spare, following a 31-26 success at second-placed Ipswich Magpies.

For the first 20 minutes of this enthralling match, Hadleigh looked more like whipping boys than champions elect.

Three well-worked Ipswich tries had exposed the Rams badly in the scrum and on the overlap.

A 19-0 lead looked insurmountable, such was the Magpies’ dominance.

But somehow, Hadleigh steadied the ship, reduced their error count and took the game to their opponents.

On 25 minutes, several phases of driving play broke the Ipswich line and Merlin Lawrence dived over for a try. Jake Kerr converted.

BREAKING LINES: A Hadleigh player surges forward against Ipswich Picture: Neil Farrow (6405507)
BREAKING LINES: A Hadleigh player surges forward against Ipswich Picture: Neil Farrow (6405507)

The last 10 minutes of the half decided the match. Relentless Ipswich pressure went unrewarded in the face of dogged defence.

Against the run of play, a searing touchline break by Dom Manthorpe was brilliantly supported by Charlie Eaden who beat the defence to make the score 19-12 at half-time.

Hadleigh then showed why they are unbeaten this season. They dominated possession and secured several vital turnovers. Tries from Henry Nicholls, Lawrence and Shawn Van Rensburg and two Kerr conversions sealed the victory.

A late try from Ipswich gave them a two bonus point consolation.

The entire Hadleigh pack earned particular credit with an enormous collective 80-minute effort to prevail against a larger, highly motivated Ipswich eight.

The Rams now aim to finish their regular season as one of the few unbeaten teams in the country when they travel to Bury St Edmunds Rovers (III) on Saturday.

l Halstead Templars (6th) lost 57-10 at Colchester III, as they overtook Ipswich into second place. They host bottom side Brightlingsea next.

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