Hadleigh bounce back in Greene King IPA Eastern Counties One Shield with 16-12 win against Norwich Union
Hadleigh bounced back to winning ways in the Greene King IPA Eastern Counties One Shield with a hard fought 16-12 victory at Norwich Union.
The Rams travelled to the Sprowston Cricket Ground with a heavily depleted squad, as six players were injured or unavailable.
With so many players out, a reshuffle saw available players put in unfamiliar positions and facing a huge pack, which set the tone for the first 20 minutes, as Hadleigh were camped on the edge of their own 22.
Facing a massive weight difference, the visitors were pushed back at three successive scrums, yet still maintained a strong defensive line on the back foot.
Wave after wave of Norwich pressure finally paid off as they broke the stoic Hadleigh line for their first try, and this also resulted in the Hadleigh tight head prop leaving the field injured.
But with resolute leadership from hooker Ollie Beckerlegge and Eric Munezero coming on to prop, Hadleigh started fighting back with some hard running lines and support to open the field and take the pressure off.
This counter attack instantly bore fruit as Jake Kerr was put through for a try.
The Rams finished the half with a narrow three-point advantage, but it was all to play for as the second half kicked off, and a further injury saw veteran Neil Farrow come on to shore up the second row and help Hadleigh slowly get parity in the scrum.
The big Norwich first receivers started to punch holes in the Hadleigh defence from the rucks, and after a few penalties they broke through again to score.
It was a close and tense battle from the outset and the strong wind had a big influence on the line outs, but Hadleigh’s Logan Unwin was undaunted and managed a near faultless display in the air.
He won a strategic ball for the backs to play off, resulting in a massively strong run from Charlie Eaden, who crashed through three tackles to score for the visitors, with Ryan Steer converting.
The last 15 minutes was a dogfight, but after a successful penalty from Steer, Hadleigh mentally and physically held it together.
After winning a defensive five-metre scrum, resulting from Norwich being held up on the line, the Rams collectively cheered the final whistle and a narrow away victory.
Hadleigh (2nd) have this weekend off and return to action when they host Norwich in the reverse fixture on March 23.
With four games to go, the Rams trail current leaders Beccles, who drew 31-31 on the road at Cottenham Renegades last time out, by four points.