Stowmarket go top after surviving a thrilling finish
- Credit: Gregg Brown
London 3 East West Norfolk 28 Stowmarket 32 Stow returned to the top of the table after this classic game of two halves as the visitors dominated the scoring in the first half before West Norfolk fought back in the second, writes Martin Barnard.
Their extra pace and ability to find space allowed the Stowmarket backs to run in two early tries by scrum-half Joe Fifield and full-back Dan Garrard, with both being converted by Garrard.
West Norfolk continued to try and use their power game, but from another breakdown back row James Simpson powered over for another try.
Play continued with both sides playing in the middle of the field, before a breakdown near the Norfolk line saw the ball moved quickly to the wing for winger Nick Faliveno to go over in the corner.
With time in the half running out, Norfolk moved the ball infield to take a well-executed converted try. Thus the half finished with what looked a very comfortable lead of 24-7 to the visitors.
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When Stow struck again early in the second half, Fifield touching down, the game looked over.
But that was far from the case, as a bit of indifferent kicking and poor defence saw the home side quickly score two converted tries.
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With Stow now struggling to maintain possession and Norfolk tails up, the home side crashed over for another two converted tries in the next ten minutes and suddenly it was 29-28 with ten left.
At last this seemed to be the wake-up call that Stowmarket needed and they began to hold onto the ball and work through the phases.
With time running out Stowmarket were awarded a penalty just outside the 22 and, rather than wind the clock down kicked the points.
This then gave Norfolk a final chance to secure their kick-off which they did, and with time up moved it wide before a high tackle gave them a penalty kick to the corner which they won and drove to the line.
And in a dramatic finish they were actually over the line but held up, and the full-time whistle was blown.
With other results also going their way Stowmarket returned to top of the table at the halfway point of the season.