Saturday marked the start of the new League season for Eastern Counties Rugby Union and Fakenham travelled to Diss for their opening game. True to the form of recent seasons Fakenham had to field a weaker than usual team due to last minute calls into work, non availability, late holidays and the honeymoon of the 1st team no 8 and fixture secretary! As a result of this they actually started the game with only 14 players (although a 15th did arrive 10 minutes into the game) and no substitutes bench at all. The game started at quite a pace with Fakenham dominating the first exchanges and camping out in the Diss half of the pitch despite Diss having a weight advantage in the pack. Josh Sperring had a good run in the 13th minute, weaving his way past several Diss
defenders but the move unfortunately ended with a knock on. The first score came after 22 minutes when a Tom Bane-Young clearance kick was unfortunately charged down by Diss who touched down just inside the dead ball area, they then proceeded to kick the conversion, 7-0 to Diss. A long-range penalty chance to Fakenham a few minutes later went begging when the ball was pushed just wide of the posts. To return the favour, Diss then proceeded to miss a long range penalty of their own not long before half time, this was followed by 3 minutes of intense pressure from Fakenham but a score did not materialise and so at half time it was Diss 7 – Fakenham 0 and despite an understrength side, Fakenham had acquitted themselves well having both ball possession and territory for probably 2/3 of the period despite the Diss pack advantage.
Diss started the second half brightly applying lots of pressure in the Fakenham half but it ended with a penalty to Fakenham, which again missed the target. The game then ebbed and flowed with Diss seeming the stronger until following an audacious reverse pass from Paul Richardson right on the Fakenham line, a Fakenham player was penalised for not releasing the ball after being tackled and Diss scored right under the posts from the resulting scrum and again kicked the conversion, 14-0 to Diss. The next 15 minutes saw play flow from end to end culminating in a period of sustained pressure in the Diss 22 with Rory Singleton finishing by scoring just left of the posts despite the handicap of running with his shorts almost at his ankles! Tom Bane-Young kicked the conversion to bring the score back to 14-7. A short period of pressure from Diss was ended in a bizarre way when the referee was caught between the Diss forwards attacking the Fakenham line and the Fakenham defence attempting to stop them, what actually happened is unknown, it may have been an elbow of a knee to the referees head or he may just have hit his head on the ground the wrong way, suffice to say he was out cold. The game of course stopped with about 14 minutes to go as the matter was assessed and it was soon obvious that it was possibly something serious (a head or neck injury) and an ambulance was called. Whilst waiting with the ref covered against the rain by a bevy of golf umbrellas, it was agreed to end the match as it stood, with Diss taking 4 points and Fakenham 1. Cause for concern must be the length of time it took the ambulance to arrive, an hour and a quarter, almost a repeat of an injury at the same fixture last season when a paramedic eventually came over an hour later to an injured Diss player, Saturday afternoon in Diss seems to be a time to avoid accidents. Fakenham hope that the ref was not as serious as it looked and that he recovers soon.
Next week availability is looking considerably better and Fakenham 1st are at home to Broadland Great Yarmouth whilst the 2nd team is away at Lakenham-Hewitt, both games 3:00 ko.