Last Saturday Fakenham hosted Hadleigh in the first game of the Eastern Counties 1 Shield competition, this shield competition sees the top 2 sides from each of EC1 North, South and West competing for overall champion status and promotion.
Fakenham started well, collecting the Hadleigh kick off and running through the phases to bring the game play into the Hadleigh half of the pitch.
Fakenham moved closer to the Hadleigh line attacking with both forwards and backs.
The first score resulted from a Lloyd Marshall grubber kick behind the Hadleigh defensive line. Marshall was just unable to gather the kick but flank forward Howard Kellock was 2nd to the ball and gathered it for an easy touchdown, converted by Lloyd Marshall.
Fakenham’s second try soon followed. Aggressive in attack and with good running lines the home side were dynamic, and this play moved Fakenham right up to the Hadleigh line. A surging run from prop Jack Powell-Thorne took him to within 1 meter of the line and his front row counterpart Callum Frost saw an opening just around the side of the ensuing ruck which he could power through for the try, again converted by Marshall.
Hadleigh were now 14-0 behind within the
first 15 minutes and were not going to roll over. From this point onwards their defense became more organised, and they put some smart running moves together with their aid of their backs. Hadleigh were on top in the set pieces with Fakenham’s scrums and lineouts both mis-firing but in the open play Fakenham had the advantage. The rest of the half was more even with Fakenham spending a prolonged period defending their own line but they could still finish the half on top again. A third try came from a looping run around the back of a ruck by Jordi Walker. He fed Joe Bane-Young who spun a weighted pass out to Howard Kellock who ran in for his second. This took the half time score to 19-0 in favour of Fakenham.
As the 2nd half started, the weather became steadily worse. Already wet conditions became progressively worse as the rain started up in earnest, making the ball greasy and harder to control. Hadleigh started with a point to prove not happy with the score board. They ran hard at Fakenham and were putting the home side under significant pressure. Fakenham rode out this offensive onslaught with excellent tackling and a strong defensive press. Hadleigh were the next to score. Fakenham who had defended well, recovered the ball and took the attack up to the Hadleigh line. With Bane-Young and Kellock trying to link up again through a short pop offload the Hadleigh defender could do just enough to put Bane-Young off balance and dislodge the greasy ball. The pass went to the floor and the Hadleigh winger was the first to react, gathering the loose ball and running the length of the pitch for a converted try.
Disappointed at allowing points against them Fakenham brushed this off and put pressure on the Hadleigh catcher from the kick off, forcing an error. Fakenham’s malfunctioning line out held solid after the kick to the corner and the resulting play saw Bane-Young again involved as he was able to slip an offload to Jordi Walker who powered the remaining 5 meters to the line. The bonus point secured, Fakenham relaxed their play. This proved to be costly as Hadleigh could capitalise on some loose ball with good running and quick off-loads and took the next score. This resurgence was short lived as Fakenham returned to controlling the game and finished the last 10 minutes on top. Slick passing between the backs found Brett Stolworthy in space and he stretched his legs to run the 30 meters for the final score of the game, converted by Marshall.
The final score was 33-14 to Fakenham. There are still areas of the game for Fakenham to improve on but they will be pleased to take a bonus point win from this game. In 2 weeks time Fakenham host Ipswich YM 1st XV, the winners of Eastern Counties 1 (South), a game that will be a tougher test than this weekend.