On Saturday, Fakenham’s first XV hosted Thetford at the Stringer Ground for this London Counties 3EC clash.
For the first fifteen minutes, Thetford looked dangerous putting in several good attacks, but Fakenham’s defence held firm, the only concession being a penalty, which went wide of the posts.
Fakenham’s first opportunity came when a penalty gave them a lineout inside the Thetford 22. Howard Kellock took the ball cleanly, but Thetford’s forwards were able to turn it over and pass back for the clearance, but Joe Bane-Young read the play well and quickly charged the ball down, resulting in a 5m scrum.
Fakenham then played through several phases with good pressure from both Howard Kellock and Jordii Walker, but it was Rob Ward who was ultimately able to power through for the score. Tom Bane-Young kicked the conversion, taking the score to 7 - 0 after 25 minutes.
Fakenham had finally found their stride now and after the restart a break by Howard Kellock supported by Luke Taylor made them some good ground. Tom Bane-Young kicked the ball long resulting in a lineout on Thetford’s twenty-two metre line.
Thetford fumbled their lineout and Fakenham seized on the error, passing quick ball out to the right. Rob Ward, again, put in some good work and offloaded to Matthew King whose strength and finishing ability allowed him to shrug off two players and score in the corner. The kick was tricky and made much harder by the strong gusty wind and Fakenham were unable to add the extra two.
Thetford’s chance came after the next restart, when a penalty, taken quickly by Fakenham, was knocked on, giving Thetford a scrum.
They used it for a rapid attack, making ground with fast runners and ball to spin it out wide. Fakenham put in a valiant
defensive effort but Thetford had too many men over and Jordan Morgan went over for the score. The conversion went wide, taking the score at half time to 12 - 5.
There were promising attacks from Fakenham at the start of the second half, including a lovely break from Henry Hepworth-Smith and Ashley Stewart. Thetford’s defence held and they won a penalty which was within easy downwind kicking range and slotted it through.
Fakenham were once again quick out of the blocks at the restart with some excellent attacking play, maintaining possession through several phases to make good territory and get them close to the Thetford line. The score finally came for Luke Boynes, who pushed through after a pass out from the base of the ruck. Lloyd Marshall stepped up for the conversion, but the kick was again caught in the wind and fell short.
Another opportunity came shortly afterwards when a penalty gave Fakenham a lineout deep in Thetford’s territory. Taken by Howard Kellock, the ball was then driven over in a rolling maul, with Rory Singleton the one to score. The conversion was another difficult one and despite a good attempt, Lloyd Marshall couldn’t quite make it stick.
Fakenham were immediately back on the attack with a lovely break from Murray Walker but Thetford turned it over and kicked deep to clear. Fakenham chose to run it back again with lovely passing and quick ball taking them up into Thetford’s half once again. A good run from Brett Stolworthy set Fakenham up for the try and Damon Howick broke through for the score.
Fakenham looked to be in a good position with the score at 27 - 8 with just ten minutes to go. However, Thetford weren’t giving in yet.
An excellent run up the wing from Thetford number 11, Ciaran Docherty was spun out to Matt Tree for a try, converted by Briggs. A few minutes later, another gap in Fakenham’s defence allowed Thetford’s Matt Bailey through for another try, right under the posts. Briggs was quick to convert that too, taking the score to 27 - 22.
It was a nervous final ten minutes for Fakenham, as Thetford looked to snatch the victory at the death, just as Fakenham had done to them back in January of last season.
Fakenham conceded a penalty in the final play of the game, but Thetford missed touch, allowing Lloyd Marshall to kick the ball out for the final whistle.
A very close finish, but a second good win for Fakenham which puts them in 3rdplace in the Division on points difference with all 3 top teams tied on 10 points each. Next week the 1stteam travel away to Thurston (3:00pm kick off).
Fakenham seconds travelled to Wymondham this last week, but were unlucky to come out on the end of a 34 - 17 defeat.