After the previous weeks 2nd team win over Holt 3rd’s their respective 1st teams met in this London Counties 3EC league match. With Holt leading the division and Fakenham in 9th place the home side were under no illusions before the game with the consensus being for a Holt win but still a close game. This was probably the first time this season that Fakenham fielded what looked to be a truly representative 1st team with a number of faces back in harness.
What transpired was truly remarkable as Fakenham out thought and out fought Holt throughout and even more amazing as Holt, undefeated this season, were given 26 penalties in the game to Fakenham’s four and if you add three yellow cards to the home side, meaning Fakenham played with fourteen men for thirty minutes of this game, this makes the win absolutely outstanding.
Holt started the game well and took an early lead through a penalty and this was followed by a try and conversion scored after Fakenham’s lineout was put under pressure. The relieving kick from this lineout was charged down and Holt scored., with Holt 0-10 up the pre-match forecasts looked spot on. There was a distinct pattern
emerging in the game, Holt were happy to kick the ball and play rugby in the Fakenham half whilst Fakenham kept the ball in hand and ran back at Holt who were struggling to defend these lively attacks from deep.
The home sides forwards were beginning to get on top with some excellent lineout work from Adam Lingwood. Powerful scrummages from Richy Warren and Jack Powel-Thorn meant the backs had plenty of good quick ball to play with, but it was the domination of the breakdown, ably lead by the gifted Rob Ward and Howard Kellock, that was putting Fakenham in the driving seat. Lloyd Marshal converted one of the few penalties awarded to Fakenham and then followed this up with a superb piece of skill which resulted in captain Tom Bane-Young going over in the corner. With two yellow cards and the penalty count going against Fakenham Holt came back into the game and were only kept out by some desperate defensive work by Ashley Steward and Brett Stolworthy. Holt did kick a penalty but this was little reward from this pressure. A lovely piece of jackling by Lloyd Marshal saw Fakenham break again into the Holt half eventually resulting in a try by Ashley Steward converted by Lloyd Marshal from out wide. Half time score 15-13 and a frenetic half it had been.
From the restart the forward dominance from Fakenham continued in the second half and, after some great work from Rob Ward and Howard Kellock, Fakenham drove deep into the Holt half. Scrum half, Luke Taylor, then danced his way through the entire Holt pack to score an enchanted try which was unfortunately not converted. Another yellow card and more penalties going against Fakenham saw Holt dominate field position, however, a determined defensive effort held Holt to their only scores, two penalties, in the period. Damon Howick and Josh Gee made impressive contributions when they came on after sixty minutes and Lloyd Marshal slotted one of the rare penalties awarded to Fakenham to see out the game with Fakenham well deserved winners in the end.
Paul Richarson, Fakenham’s coach, was very pleased with the effort and skill shown by his side. He was especially happy with a new tactic deployed by his forwards that absolutely won the game for Fakenham, with Holt’s captain admitting after the match that Holt had no answer to Fakenham’s counter rucking.
Man of the match could have gone to any of the eighteen Fakenham players but it was narrowed down to two, Rob Ward and Rory Singelton.