Fakenham 34, Dereham 10 – Little to separate Eastern Counties Two North rivals despite win
- Credit: Archant
The hosts claimed the bragging rights as they locked horns with their fierce rivals again during the clubs' final Eastern Counties Two North game of the season.
A cold and windy afternoon greeted the two teams and Fakenham – who have improved immensely as the campaign has gone on to haul themselves up the standings following a slow start – were keen to avenge a mauling in the corresponding fixture at Dereham earlier in the year. Early on, the home team made good use of a following wind and some good relief kicking was required from fly-half Will Affleck to relieve some of the growing pressure.
Fortunately, Dereham's line-out was working well and they were able to gain ground on the back of this. It was the away team who would open the scoring when a long accurate pass from Affleck found centre Craig Chester who took the ball at pace before releasing full-back Jack Edwards who had made good ground on the outside to score.
Fakenham's response was quick and having won a ruck on the Dereham five-metre line, vice-captain Bob Sayer crashed the ball over for their opening score. Lloyd Marshall slotted the kick to give the hosts the lead.
This had all the hallmarks of a classic derby encounter with plenty of forceful play and firm tough defence but the home side had the edge and after full-back Tom Bane-Young fielded a clearing kick and side-stepped a few defenders to speed to the line and score Fakenham's second try of the game, which was also converted by Marshall.
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Captain Joe Bane-Young was the next in line to take advantage of some indifferent Dereham tackling to increase the home side's lead and with the conversion the score was 21-5.
Mistakes were now a feature of the away team's performance but the luck was also against them when a kick came back off the post to bounce kindly to prop Richard Warren who crashed over for the fourth try, and the bonus point. Marshall kicked the conversion and immediately the whistle blew with Fakenham comfortably in the lead by 28 points to five.
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The second half produced some excellent attack and defence from both teams and the first 20 minutes produced no score from either side.
The hosts were hunting for more points, and, when their opponents infringed twice more, Marshall took his men's tally to 34.
Dereham did have the final say in the scoring for the game when they bagged a try but were unable to convert it. Affleck had gone close with a trademark kick through and chase, but scrum-half for the day Brett Stolworthy broke well and found Edwards to make sure the beaten side headed home with at least 10 points to show for their efforts.
Rhys Leeder, the Dereham captain, said: 'This was a disappointing end to our season but credit to the Fakenham team who outplayed us.
'Even though we've fallen short of our own standards of late, we have to be happy with our season overall. To finish fourth in the league following promotion last year is a credit to the team.
'My thanks go to all the players, sponsors and everyone involved in the club. We're already looking forward to next year's campaign.'
Fakenham's victory ensured they finished in fifth position on the same points as Dereham – but a place behind them due to an inferior points difference.
Both sides will meet again in next term's competition barring any restructuring by the Eastern Counties' competition committee.
Fakenham first team do not have a friendly fixture on Saturday – as many players need to rest after the exertions of the last three weeks – but the seconds are in action in an EC4 North league encounter away to Wymondham III.
Kick-off will be 3pm and spectators are very welcome to travel for the match.