ROCHFORD SHOW THEY ARE UP TO THE TASK
Report by Graham Pratt
On a freezing afternoon in deepest Norfolk Rochford survived their first real test of the season with a hard-fought bonus point win against a good and committed Norwich outfit.
Make no mistake this was their hardest game this campaign and the team had to dig into reserves to keep Norwich at bay.
Director of rugby Chris Green and head coach michael guess were both pleased by the way the boys responded in the second half to force the victory.
The game went off at a pace and a number of handling errors and general poor play by the visitors boosted the home team who played with speed and skill to take an early 7-point lead with a converted try.
Although Rochford’s set scrummage was as powerful as ever their line out, however, was struggling on a day when fingers were numb, and ball was not always finding its mark.
The game was being played at a fast pace and there were a number of basic errors made by both teams, but Norwich kept forcing the pace and not allowing Rochford to settle.
Having said that this side has a way of creating space through good handling skills and speed and wing Mitch Bennett came up with the goods after some splendid attacking play.
Bennett was given the room and off he went to run in at the corner for a well taken try and reduce the margin to 5-7.
Late in the half Norwich pressure was rewarded with a penalty which was duly converted into points to take their lead to 10-5 at the half time break.
A sharp talking to and a reminder of what was at stack saw a totally different Rochford team come out for the second half and they applied the pressure up front, going back to basics, and where prop Craig Strachan was immense all game.
His powerful driving breaks in the loose put Norwich on the back foot and together with the rest of the forwards kept the ball tight. with good box kicking by scrum half Ricki Gould Rochford found themselves on the Norwich line.
Aggressive flanker Stuart Whatling is always dangerous in this area and so it was as he drove through to score under the posts and Matt Stewart duly added the extra 2 points.
Next up was the impressive second row Luke Court-Rhind who collected the ball from the loose and with his deceptive turn of speed and long legs strode through to score a well taken try and Stewart, once again, converted and now Rochford were ahead 19-10
The afternoon became darker and colder but both teams hammered away at each other, but it was the visitors who were now getting back into gear and who created the next score.
The backs moved the ball quickly through the hands and replacement centre Ben Johnson showed his class to break open the Norwich defence and passed the ball to wing Sam Edwards.
Sam is an aggressive runner and he just put his head down and went for the line to crash over in the corner for the bonus point try.
A terrific conversion from the touchline by Stewart gave the visitors a 26-10 lead
Norwich seeing all their hard work come to nothing launched a late rally and did get their efforts rewarded with a try, but Rochford went back to basics to see the game out and came away with a very hard-fought win.
All players agreed that, although they did not reach the heights of previous games, this was a match that they needed to have and to test themselves.
Knowing that they were under pressure, especially in the first half, and not playing at their best they showed the character to regroup and force a bonus point win against a strong and determined side.
That must be pleasing to know and will drive them on into the second half of the season.
One more game before Christmas break away at Chelmsford next week and the boys know that they cannot relax yet as Wanstead are still only five points behind them.