Ben Hockley stars as Ipswich YM best Hadleigh in top-of-table battle
Eastern Counties One
Ipswich YM 33
The small crowd watching this top-of-the-table clash was treated to a fierce, competitive game, with eight tries in all and both sides willing to attack and throw the ball around, despite the blustery conditions.
Playing with the wind, Hadleigh opened the scoring within three minutes of the start, Will Holmes finishing off a counter attack after a poor YM clearance.
It was the visitors’ poor kicking and wayward passing, especially into the wind, that kept them pegged back, but gradually their pack gained ascendancy and drove up-field into the Hadleigh half.
A break by Carlton Ford, carried on by Ash Lacey, got the ball to the Hadleigh line, from where the YM pack took over, captain Ben Hockley crashing over to equal the score.
The mistakes continued, though, and Hadleigh took advantage of another poor clearance kick to put Craig Thomas in under the posts, only for YM then to produce their most effective passage of play.
It was ignited by debutant Alex Powys, who first carried the ball 40 metres up-field, to be stopped just short of the line. The YM forwards, up in support, took the ball on, and put Chad Hervey over.
A minute or two later, Powys made yet another break from deep, using his searing pace to beat the entire Hadleigh defence and give the YM a 21–14 half time lead.
In the second half Hadleigh defended into the wind well, but the YM are not top of this league for nothing, and with their forwards now securing the bulk of possession, they continued to press on the hosts’ defence, Hockley finishing off another Carlton Ford break.
Hadleigh struck back, though, after some scrappy play from both teams, Neil Crisp touching down under the posts, but the best score was saved until last, the YM pack recycling possession several times close to the Hadleigh line, and choosing their point of attack well, driving the ball over.
Perhaps it wasn’t surprising that a game of this importance and intensity between neighbours would boil over at some stage, and as tempers flared in the last five minutes, both sides were reduced to 14 men.
In the end, though the better forward play of the YM and their cutting edge out wide, were the difference between these two teams.