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Busy weekend for the players of Holt Rugby Club

PUBLISHED: 09:13 18 October 2018

The two teams line up for a picture after Sunday's 50th anniversary match between Holt and an Eastern Counties XV Picture: Stuart Young

The two teams line up for a picture after Sunday's 50th anniversary match between Holt and an Eastern Counties XV Picture: Stuart Young

Archant

There were no league matches at the weekend - but it was still a busy couple of days for Holt Rugby Club.

They booked a place in the next round of the Norfolk Intermediate Cup with a comfortable win at Norwich Union on Saturday and then took on an Eastern Counties the following day in a game held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bridge Road ground.

The two sides had met on the same day in 1968 and did battle again on an afternoon when the weather did not match up to the festive atmosphere.

There were heavy downpours throughout and it is to the credit of both sides that some entertaining, if error-strewn, rugby took place and some excellent tries were scored by both sides as Eastern Counties won 44-12.

Eastern Counties had picked a strong select side, a mix of experienced and emerging players and it was one of the latter, UEA wing James Phimister, who scored the opening try. It was created by a fine pass under pressure from North Walsham’s Will Swart and converted by his clubmate Jake Duffield.

Five minutes later Shelford scrum-half Tom Duffy took a quick tap penalty and scored a try which gave Duffield an easy conversion. Swart then scored an try in the corner, the conversion attempt not going over, and Eastern Counties were 19 points ahead. A loose kick from a Holt back landed in the hands of the Eastern Counties captain Steve Hipwell of Cambridge who scored an unconverted try. At this stage it looked as though the visitors would run away with the game.

Holt are nothing if not resilient this season, however, and scrum-half Bruce van Poortvliet was alert to some defensive disorganisation and scored from a quick tap penalty. Louis Chapman converted and the half-time score was 7-24.

After the restart Holt kept possession and showed a lot of commitment. They did not however have the skills or organisation to put any points on the board until Van Poortvliet squeezed over in the corner for his second try, this time unconverted. The score of 12-24 was as close as Holt could get and as they tired Eastern Counties took charge.

Centre George Menhinick from Saffron Walden broke through tackles in a 20-yard run to score and then a second wing-three quarter from UEA, Dan Shepherd, added two tries — the first of which was converted by Diss fullback Chris Beaird.

Although the result was not what Holt would have hoped, the occasion itself met all the club’s expectations. Over 120 people attended the pre-match celebratory lunch and braved the rain on the touchline. Holt were captained on the day by hooker Joe Harrison whose grandfather, Ed Harrison, played in the 1968 game and shared a table at lunch with a number of his old team-mates.

The previous day Holt cruised through in the cup after a 36-12 victory at Norwich Union.

Holt were expected to win as they play in a higher league but Union competed well, enjoying a good share of the possession and territory.

Playing into the strong wind, Holt built up a 7-17 lead by half-time with tries for Aaron Tagg, James Goodliffe and Tom Jackson, one of which was converted by James Wyatt. Union responded with a try by Graham Hunt converted by Tom Whitehouse.

Second half tries from Tim Allen, Wyatt and Aaron Cole, two of which were converted by Wyatt, saw Holt pull ahead. A push-over try just before the final whistle gave Union a well deserved second try but they were unable to convert.

Holt are next in action on Saturday when they travel to Wymondham in the London Three Eastern Counties League as they look to maintain their place at the top of the table. It will be the first game at Wymondham’s new Barnard Fields ground.

Holt are honoured to be playing in such a big occasion and will be doing their best to increase their five point lead with a game in hand.

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