Stowmarket outlast Norwich Crusaders to set-up table-topping Suffolk clash
London 3 Eastern Counties
Norwich Crusaders 17
A much-changed Stowmarket side travelled to Norwich Crusaders expecting a hard match and were not disappointed, writes Martin Barnard.
The home side, with their strongest selection, choose to play with the wind and down the hill. With their heavier pack this was a sound decision, and led to the home side having the majority of both possession and territory.
Stowmarket showed great resilience and held out well with a combination of well-organised defence and a bit of carelessness by the home side meant that a 7-0 score to the home side at the half was scant reward for their efforts.
Stowmarket changed ends and immediately looked more comfortable and some sustained pressure by the visitors saw busy hooker Jake Squirrell make two charge downs for tries, the first being pounced on by prop Gary Goodchild, and second being touched downed by Squirrell himself.
Both tries were converted by full back Dan Garrard.
Stowmarket went further ahead when excellent interplay between Colin Clarke and Joe Fifield saw a short pass then go to centre Joe Lancaster who beat the full-back for a good try.
At this point the home team rallied and forced their way up the field to score an unconverted try.
Play then went back and forward a bit and two technical offences saw the visitors reduced to 14 and then 13 men.
But a somewhat fortunate penalty gave Stowmarket a chance to stretch the lead with a well taken kick by Garrard.
With the game into the last few seconds Stowmarket tried to run from their 22, got turned over and conceded an unconverted try in the corner.
Overall a reasonable performance, and good to keep the unbeaten run going.
Stow return home this weekend to host Southwold in a clash which pits the league-leading visitors against the third-placed hosts.