Holt II 7, Dereham 74 – Visitors breeze to welcome Eastern Counties Two North win

Kofi McAllister breaks the Holt defensive line. Picture: TIM EVANS

Kofi McAllister breaks the Holt defensive line. Picture: TIM EVANS - Credit: Archant

Dereham finally recaptured their form with a superb win at Holt on Saturday, writes Tim Evans.

Dereham came into the match on the back of some poor performances and had been really struggling to find form of late. They were, however, able to put out one of their better teams of late and opened the scoring in the second minute when a ruck was won on Holt's 22-metre line and quick ball found speedy winger Josh Gee who ran round to score under the posts. Dereham went further ahead five minutes later when a flowing move found prop forward Marcus Evans in an uncustomary wide position. But he showed great hands under pressure to 'tap' pass outside to the other winger, Brett Stolworthy to score.

Scrum-half Karl Thomas, making a welcome return to the side, added to the score when he stretched well to find the line. The intensity which had been missing from Dereham's game of late was back and with hardly a tackle being missed and rucks being won and turned over in equal measure, their tails were well and truly up. Kofi McAllister, a new young player to the club, was carrying and offloading well from the second row and Will Affleck was playing in his best position at fly-half. He was very unlucky when one of his trademark kick and chase efforts was only just cleared in time but was rewarded in the 35th minute when he saw Stolworthy in space wide on the left, and an inch-perfect cross-kick allowed the winger to collect, step inside the covering tackle and score.

If anything, Dereham opened the second half in an even higher gear. Centre Harry Graham, coming back to Holt for the first time, continued his personal fine form of late when he pounced on a loose ball to cross powerfully. Minutes later, the away team forwards won their scrum and captain and number eight Rhys Leeder broke from the back. He made good yards before cleverly offloading to Thomas who scored his second try. Not to be outdone Stolworthy added to his personal tally when Jack Edwards cleverly drew the Holt full-back's tackle before releasing him to score again.

The Dereham team were rampant now and must have impressed the watching international, Ben Youngs, who was off England duty and had returned to his old club. Gee showed his pace outside again to score in the 50th minute. Holt were still contributing to the game however and from the subsequent restart, they caught the ball and also caught Dereham napping. Their second row player made good yards and some poor Dereham tackling allowed him to pass inside and set up a score. Dereham were far from finished though and a superb solo effort from Affleck saw him show great skill and pace by running the length of the field, evade a number of flailing Holt tackles and score under the posts. The final play of the game involved man-of-the-match prop forward Jack Powell-Thorne, who thrilled himself and team-mates when he drove over from close range for his debut try.

Leeder said 'This was a most satisfying win. We have been disappointing in the last few games and all the players have been desperate to put things right and re-establish the early season form we were showing This was just the tonic we needed and we can now look forward to the important match away next week with extra confidence.'

The match referred to is the semi-final of the Norfolk Junior Cup away to higher-level Crusaders who play in a division above Dereham.