Trophy win lifts Ipswich's gloom

RUGBY UNION: Ipswich regained the Suffolk Chadacre Cup with a hard-earned win over holders Hadleigh. It meant a disappointing season ended with a trophy at Humber Doucy Lane, although Ipswich still face the possibility of relegation from London League Division Two North.

IPSWICH regained the Suffolk Chadacre Cup with a hard-earned win over holders Hadleigh.

It meant a disappointing season ended with a trophy at Humber Doucy Lane, although Ipswich still face the possibility of relegation from London League Division Two North.

Hadleigh, who established their place in mid-table in London Division Three North East with a season of consolidation, demonstrated that they are capable of taking on the best in the county and, if Ipswich do go down, will be ready to face them on equal terms next season.

Ipswich made changes to the side that won against Old Verulamians, perhaps the most significant being the inclusion of Mike Fielden, who had a storming match.

Although this game probably signals the end of an illustrious career, he still has a passion for the game, and there was an intensity about everything he did which was an example to the other players.

Jeff Searle, the Ipswich captain, also returned to the side after a two-week lay-off through injury, and Bryan Caley stepped into the fly-half berth in the absence of Uys Van Heerden.

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Caley settled in well and he ran the show during the early exchanges. Ipswich dominated the scrummage, driving Hadleigh back and disrupting their ball almost at will. Garrard has looked better each game he has played, and with Reeve and Williams at his side, they make a formidable front row.

Their opposite numbers stood up to the test well, however, and open-side flanker Dexter turned in a solid display.

In the line-outs Price and Primmer took their own ball well, setting up some excellent drives, especially round the back of the line-out and from this ball, Goodhall was able to launch his back row at the Hadleigh defence.

Murphy, Rush and Searle constantly made yardage, but Ipswich failed to capitalise on the possession.

Brotherton slotted an early penalty, but Hadleigh replied through Carson and the score remained 3-3 for most of the first half. Ipswich edged to a 6-3 lead with another penalty late in the half, but missed the chance of a try when Hughes cut inside when there was a three-man overlap outside him.

Hadleigh responded from a tap off the top of a line-out and moved the ball to Andrew Carson, who cut across the line and full-back Mark Winter took the ball flat out. Just when it looked like he would go all the way, Goodhall covered back and cut him down at his ankles – a try-saving tackle.

Once again Ipswich forced their way back into the Hadleigh half and from a five-metre line-out drove the ball ever closer to the opposition line. They rolled to the right and crashed over, Reeve emerging from the bottom of the maul with the ball. Finally, Ipswich had managed to open up a gap at 11-3.

Hadleigh quickly hit back in the second half. They kicked a penalty deep into the corner and from the resulting line-out drove for the line. Ipswich held the initial drive, but Hadleigh scrum-half Johan Visser passed the ball behind and Nick Joseland crashed over. It was game on at 11-8.

Ipswich responded well as Price tapped down to Primmer on the burst, who in turn fed Searle. As he crashed forward, Fielden came charging in at his shoulder and sliced through the Hadleigh defence, cutting outside the full-back and outpacing him to the line.

Shortly after, Murphy was sent to the sin bin for punching. Ipswich had to dig deep and try to defend their lead.

Hadleigh pushed for an opening, but the visitors' defence was outstanding. Hughes made some big hits, as did Brotherton on the wing. Hadleigh won a penalty after Ipswich killed the ball at the ruck and Carson closed the gap to just seven points with ten minutes remaining.

Searle rallied his troops for one final effort and Ipswich, through some astute kicking from Caley and Harding, pinned Hadleigh back in their 22-metre area.

With nearly five minutes of injury time played, Hadleigh fed the ball to their Fijian centre Tuitubou who sprinted away towards the corner. Hughes flung himself at the flying centre and tapped his ankle to bring him, and Hadleigh's last chance, tumbling to the deck.

As it happened, the referee had already called them back for a penalty, but it provided another moment of high tension in a close and entertaining game, a fitting end to the 2002 Suffolk Cup.

Ipswich now wait to see if Southend and Basingstoke can win their play-off games. If they both win, Ipswich will stay in London League Two North, but if either falter, then Ipswich will go down.

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