Holt RFC retain Harrison Cup
Diss 20 Holt 36
Easter Saturday saw Diss host the much anticipated Harrison Cup, an annual fixture which in recent times has been closely contested and produced some fantastic rugby.
The pitch at Mackenders was dry and firm and with the weather holding the crowd were looking forward to an open running game.
As expected the early exchanges were very physical with both sides looking for an opportunity to get a foot hold in the game. Holt and Diss both failed to put early points on the board with kickable penalties and resolved to run the ball at every opportunity.
After 15 minutes it was Holt who got the scoreboard ticking over first with a well worked back row move from a scrum 15 metres in from the touchline. Speedy winger James Leaper-Riley finished off the move in fine fashion, brushing off a number of desperate tackles, and Holt moved into a 5-0 lead.
After a controversial yellow card for prop Chris Hill a 14 man Holt extended their lead 27 mins into the game with a 95 metre run to the line by talented 17-year-old centre Tom Jackson. The pacey individual effort moved Holt 10 points clear but it was to be a short lived advantage.
Diss hit back with a well taken try of their own after continued pressure close to the Holt try line, eventually finishing wide after some good handling in the backs. As half time approached the game was in the balance at 10-7 in Holt's favour, Diss having converted their try.
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With only a minute left on the clock, quick thinking by scrum-half Ben Girling saw a penalty turn into a try scoring opportunity. A quickly taken tap fed to flanker Sammy Wright drew the Diss defence in tight and after a perfectly timed pass, pace man Leaper Riley was in for his second try and Holt held a comfortable 17-7 lead.
Diss started the second half strongly with a determination to get back into the game and were rewarded with an easily kickable penalty, duly dispatched to bring the score to 17-10.
Holt however were not in the mood to give up their lead easily and hit back with a try from 18-year-old inside centre Josh Simmons, playing in his first Harrison Cup fixture. A typically evasive run by Holt's top scoring winger Matt Jary Ryan ended with an excellent tackle five metres before the try line but a pop pass out of the tackle found its way into the hands of Simmons who touched down to give Holt a 24-10 lead.
The game continued to reward all supporters with a commitment to running the ball being the focus by both sides.
It was Holt who moved the score on again after 19-year-old second row Rob Gray took a switch pass at full tilt from Bruce Van Poortvliet to power over from five metres out. Jackson converted and Holt looked to be home and dry.
Diss however showed typical character to yet again work their way back into the game with some fine running through their centres and kept the pressure on with two tries in the last 10 minutes to give themselves hope with a scoreline of 30-20.
It was however Holt who had the last say. Jackson rounded off a fantastic performance with a 70 metre sprint for the line after Holt's forwards again turned over possession in the tight. Fly half Ben Harvey timed his pass to perfection and nothing was going to stop Jackson scoring Holt's sixth try of the day and retaining the Harrison Cup for another year.
With young players being showcased by both sides on the day, this year's fixture was a fine example of the talent developing in the county and continues to strengthen the bond between two clubs committed to seeking success through the development of its own mini and youth players.