Jack Johnson lands knockout blow for Woodbridge Warriors with last kick of game
- Credit: Archant
Eastern Counties League Woodbridge Warriors 7 Thetford 5 Woodbridge were expecting a demanding contest with top-of-the-table Thetford and the game didn’t disappoint.
The crowd were reminded of the 49-3 away loss but were lifted when Woodbridge won an early penalty as the Thetford front row went down.
Several charges were put in from home forwards; Jono Cooke, Tim Johnson, Aldis Salavejs and Nick Woodley. Woodbridge were dominating territory, the scrum and possession so it was credit to the visitor’s defence that they didn’t score.
The scrum was a good source of Warrior ball on all put ins and several times they moved the ball wide but the last pass went astray and the fast-paced first half ended scoreless.
Woodbridge continued their energetic onslaught in the second half, JP Hart and Jamie Smith bombing full-back Bailey and chasing fast to stifle counterattacks.
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Injury reduced Thetford to 14 men and their luckless streak continued when Thomas decided to run a penalty only for Bailey to be done for holding on. And so it continued – an intense, fruitless battle between David and Goliath until the 75th minute. Players, spectators, coaching staff and probably even the ref were thinking of a 0-0 draw, a warm clubhouse, an England v Wales international on the telly and maybe refreshment when a remarkable thing happened.
Thetford centre Adam Harper broke from a midfield ruck and found space. He ran 40 metres brushing off Jamie Smith to score in the corner. The only sound was the tolling of a Thetford supporter’s bell as Hatchley Barn fell silent. Was this to be the reward for dominating territory? Woodbridge ran back to the centre spot.
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Two minutes to play. A long kick and fast charge put them in the diametrically opposite corner, five metres from hope.
Cooke took responsibility, Thetford responded, Tom Stokes took over, Adam Plummer to Cooke again then Stokes took a first step towards martyrdom and battled through prop Gary Lawrence and an exhausted, depleted defence to level the score on the whistle. Jack Johnson stepped up and, watched by his team-mates lined abreast on the centre line, stuck the cherry on the cake to wild celebrations.