A sunny September afternoon made it a nice warm start to the season for Fakenham, who welcomed Wisbech to the newly named Stringer Ground for this the first London 3 EC game of the new season. Keen to get off to a good start and continue the momentum from last season, Fakenham were quick to score, with winger Charlie Harding speeding down the wing for a try just six minutes after kick off. Unfortunately, Tom Bane-Young was unsuccessful with the conversion.
Despite some good attacking phases from Fakenham, Wisbech were quick to answer, a lost Fakenham lineout on the halfway mark gained them good territory up to the Fakenham 22. Fakenham’s defence held out for several phases but Wisbech were strong in attack and it was ultimately their captain, David Wadsley, who went over for the try. The conversion was good, taking the score to 5 - 7 after fifteen minutes.
A penalty to Wisbech shortly after the restart gave them the opportunity to attack again. Fast-paced play and some excellent breaks looked likely to result in a score, but a try-saving tackle from Damon Howick denied them the chance. The challenge resulted in a yellow card for Howick, but the Fakenham defence was able to hold out despite being a man down. A lineout steal by flanker James Howell gave Fakenham the chance to clear their lines, but the kick didn’t reach touch and with three men out wide, the Wisbech runners were able to finally make it over for their second try of the match.
Despite promising attacking periods for both sides, the rest of the first half passed without further score and the teams went in 5 - 12.
As the second half got underway, Fakenham again put quick points on
the board. Rob Ward took the restart well and Fakenham’s signature quick ball looked dangerous. A kick from Tom Bane-Young from just inside the Wisbech half was well chased by Charlie Harding, whose pace allowed him to go over for the score. The conversion went wide, but Fakenham had closed the gap to 10 - 12.
Soon after the restart, Fakenham attacked again. Conceded penalties by Wisbech and some good play by Fakenham took them deep inside the opposition half. Wisbech put in a staunch defence on their own line, but good work by the Fakenham forwards finally allowed scrum-half Luke Taylor to shrug off a tackle and dart over for the try. Tom Bane-Young converted and Fakenham took the lead for the first time in the game, with the score at 17 - 12 after 47 minutes.
A period of open play saw opportunities for both sides, but neither side was able to see them through. Wisbech looked threatening in attack, and although Fakenham put in some strong defensive tackles, the Wisbech side suffered with a number of forward passes and knock-ons which cost them several good chances.
Fakenham also had their chances. A charged down kick in the Wisbech 22 looked like an opportunity, but the ball unfortunately met the touch line for a Wisbech lineout. This time the visitors used their larger size to their advantage, driving Fakenham back to half way with a seemingly unstoppable maul. When it finally collapsed, both Wisbech 4, Henry Lankfer, and the Fakenham prop, Rory Singleton, were sent to the sin-bin for infringements in the maul.
Fakenham were another man down soon after when flanker James Howell caught a Wisbech pass from an offside position with Wisbech just five metres from the try-line. Despite a man advantage, Wisbech were still unable to score, and instead conceded a scrum. With scrums now uncontested, Fakenham were able to clear their lines and move play up to half way, where another superb break from Ashley Stewart almost resulted in a score. He was only prevented from scoring by a high tackle, which resulted in the Ref immediately awarding a penalty try for Fakenham.
Despite pressure from Wisbech in the final few minutes of the game, their efforts were denied both by their own handling errors and a strong Fakenham defence.
Overall a good win for Fakenham and a promising start to the new season, the win puts the team into second place in the Division, behind Ely but just ahead of West Norfolk. The league continues next week with Fakenham 1st’s at home to Thetford along with a pre-match luncheon. The second XV travel to Wymondham for their first game of the season. Both games KO at 3:00pm.