Cup tie win for Beccles Rugby Club
Lowestoft & Yarmouth 7, Beccles 12
Whilst most were beginning their preparations for the New Year celebrations, Beccles travelled to local rivals Lowestoft and Yarmouth for a closely-fought and good-spirited Norfolk Cup rugby fixture.
This was also seen as an opportunity for both teams to test new players and Beccles took the chance to try out a number of positional changes and also blood some of the second XV with Sutton, Hall, Calver, Pennington and Arnold all making their first start or return to first XV action.
Lowestoft & Yarmouth started the game strongly and looked determined to maintain their impressive home record by taking the game direct to Beccles.
Through some good interplay the hosts took the ball deep into the Beccles half, pounding at the Beccles defence through their large forward pack.
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Despite their efforts and largely due to the excellent work of Rix and Giddins, who worked tirelessly in the tight play, the Beccles line could not be crossed.
With two penalty kicks just sailing wide of the uprights the home side were left with no reward for their early efforts.
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Beccles soon cleared their lines and began to put their stamp on the game. Good line-out work from veteran Hinsley and the returning and influential Paul Wilson meant that the Beccles backs were being provided with a good supply of ball to stretch the game wide.
Sale and Murray were linking well at nine and 10, allowing the speedy and determined Beccles back line to enjoy some open space.
The first points of the day followed a Lowestoft and Yarmouth infringement near the halfway line. At a range which would have tested most kickers Wade stepped up and slotted the first three points of the day.
Wade’s outstanding kicking was to prove a major factor in the game and will serve Beccles well for the rest of their league campaign.
Beccles again threatened the home side’s line when a loose pass was spilled and hacked downfield. Chased hard by Murray and Davey-Durak, the ball was held up short of the Lowestoft & Yarmouth try line. After a number of attacks by the Beccles pack the ball was finally spilled and the pressure relieved for the home side.
For much of the remainder of the first half both sides continued to press for the opening try.
The home side continued to try and press through their heavy pack, occasionally setting their back line free.
Lowestoft & Yarmouth created some good attacking opportunities through their back line only to be stopped by Maeer, who seemed to be first at every breakdown, and Arnold who snuffed out any play stretching wide.
Just before half-time Wade was presented with another challenging penalty opportunity and slotted the long-distance shot to give Beccles a six-point lead at half-time.
Beccles introduced some fresh legs after the break with Giddins making way for Sutton and Maeer for Pennington. Beccles began the second half well and started to take control of the game.
The large home side pack began to tire after failing to realise their expected dominance in the first half, which was very much down to the outstanding but regular display from the front row of Ling, Lake and Porter.
Particularly impressive was Porter. against a much bigger opposite prop.
In only his first season in this position after converting from the back row he has had an impressive season and capped off the year with a Musker McIntrye man-of-the-match performance.
Beccles were generating a steady supply of ball for Sale and Murray who were able to get the Beccles back line moving.
Murray regularly spun the ball wide where Arnold, Gidney and Vasey-Lark were all cutting great lines and testing the home side’s defence. This pressure was finally rewarded with another penalty, and the dependable Wade stepped up and converted.
Lowestoft & Yarmouth were never going to make things easy for Beccles and they again upped their play, taking the game close to the Beccles line.
After running a number of phases close to the Beccles line the defence finally gave as a home forward crashed over the line for the only try of the game. With the hosts converting the extra two points, the game sat a 9-7 with around 20 minutes to play.
As play entered the final stages Beccles made a number of changes with Hinsley, Davey-Durak making way for the lively Hall and young flyer Calver. The changes gave Beccles some fresh legs which seemed to have an immediate effect but a promising move was just snuffed out by a covering L&Y player.
Calver left the field with a leg injury and was replaced by Payne. After a reshuffle in the backs the forwards again took the game to L&Y with Porter, Pennington, Sutton and Lake all making good yardage.
The Beccles defence, which functioned outstandingly all afternoon, pressed the home side, forcing the ball to be spilled.
Beccles scrum-half Sale was first to pounce and dribbled the ball. With a score looking likely as he approached the home try line, a L&Y player swooped the ball up and cleared the danger.
With only a minute left the Beccles forwards, led once more by Rix and Ling, took the ball into the home half. From a breakdown L&Y gave away another penalty and Wade, unfazed by the distance, slotted his fourth penalty of the day to bring the scores to 12-7.
With Beccles only needing to put the ball into touch from the restart to seal the win, an unusual penalty gave the home side one more chance to attack. L&Y again drove at the Beccles line. After a number of determined attacks Beccles finally forced the turnover, sealing a good win.
Both teams used this game as a good work-out before important league action tomorrow. This proved a good preparation for the second half of the season.
Beccles travel to Braintree in another tough challenge for the side.
After this latest performance and with a number of players returning from injury and new additions, the Beccles coaching team of Rees and Warnes will be in confident mood for the challenge ahead.