Cup triumph for Crusaders
Crusaders 23, Thetford 8
RUGBY: Crusaders lifted the Woodfordes Norfolk Junior Cup in front of a good-sized crowd at their Little Melton ground at the end of a keenly-contested cup final played in glorious conditions on Sunday.
Crusaders started favourites by virtue of their higher league status and had racked up a 20-point lead before half-time.
Crusaders came out of the blocks quickly, and it wasn't long before fly-half Theo Elliot opened the scoring with a well-struck penalty. Then a Thetford penalty attempt by Tony Watson struck a post, before the home team won possession and launched a fast-paced counter-attack.
Strong support play by second row Joel Worrell and prop Shaun Leatham resulted in the young front-row forward touching down out wide, an excellent kick by Elliot adding the extra points. A further penalty kick was added by the fly-half a few minutes later.
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Throughout the first half, the Crusaders' back line saw plenty of ball, and their slick passing severely stretched the Thetford defence. When Tom Sandland was given space, the winger's magical run left three defenders groping fresh air.
His try under the posts was again converted by Elliot. But there was still time for Thetford to get a foothold in the game when they hit back just before the half-time whistle with a Watson penalty.
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In the second half, the Thetford forwards raised their game and the visitors enjoyed the lion's share of possession, good field kicking by Watson pinning Crusaders for long spells in their own half.
But their passing was not quite sharp enough and it took a splendid chip by Watson, gathered by full-back Harper, to earn them their only try of the game.
The second half was a more fractured affair, not helped by a huge penalty count breaking up the play all too frequently.
The result was finally sealed for Crusaders when Elliot knocked over a further penalty.
It was a fine game, with both teams rising to the occasion and showing ambition on the firm ground.