LONDON TWO NORTH EAST
Diss Rugby Club remained top of the league despite being held to a hard-fought 3-3 draw with nearest rivals and neighbours Norwich.
Just three points separated the sides going into the encounter at The Mackenders but torrential rain and blustery conditions throughout hampered the game living up to pre-match expectations as Phillip LeLeivre’s early penalty was cancelled out by Ben Girling.
Diss head coach Roger Coombs emphasised the damaging affect of the challenging conditions afterwards but chose to focus on the positives as his table-topping side maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign ahead of a trip to sixth-placed Rochford Hundred tomorrow (2.30pm).
“We should have taken our chances and we lacked a bit of patience up front but it was a fair result,” he said.
“The weather didn’t help at all and that was a bit of an equaliser.
“The slippery ball made things tough and ruined the game but we are still top of the table and so hopefully we will just keep going.
“If it had stayed dry I think we would have won but the lads stuck at it and we didn’t lose which was important.
“We are still unbeaten, still top of the league and so there is plenty to build on.
“I don’t know a great deal about Rochford Hundred’s results, it is a difficult place to go but we have the players and character capable of winning.”
The hosts enjoyed a bright start to proceedings and found themselves encamped in the Norwich half without finding a breakthrough.
Initial scoring opportunities were squandered but after 10 minutes Phillip LeLeivre capitalised on a penalty opportunity from 25-yards out following a Norwich infringement at a retreating defensive scrummage, to give Diss the lead.
While both sides showed a willingness to attack through their three quarters, it was close to the breakdown that ground and advantage was gained.
Norwich eventually established themselves in the game and spent the latter stages of the half competing and threatening Diss’ defence.
However, stout defending from Michael Fuller and scrum half Jamie Burroughs continually halted any Norwich threat as the home side held firm to take their slender lead into the break.
Diss started the second half much the like first and bombarded the Norwich defensive line.
Their endeavours were rewarded as they were rewarded a penalty 30 metres out. LeLeivre’s stepped up again but could only watch on as his attempt came crashing agonisingly back off the upright.
Another Norwich infringement gave him another chance, this time centrally from 40 metres out, but again he could not capitalise as his effort fell well short of the posts.
The game fluctuated between attempts by both sides to attack and retain possession in the deteriorating conditions.
Neither side could establish any kind of control or foot hold in the game and following a Diss error at a 22-metre kick-off, Norwich pressured at the ensuing scrummage and eventually caught the Diss midfield off-side resulting in a penalty being awarded.
Ben Girling stepped up confidently to convert the penalty, drawing his side level to set up a tense final 20 minute period.
The hosts again regained control of the match and heaped pressure on the Norwich defensive line who proved resolute to every attack.
Giles West saw a drop-goal attempt from 40-yards out fall short as the home side continued to probe for a pivotal score.
However, despite dominating the final minutes, a lack of composure ultimately cost the home side a winning opportunity as Norwich held firm as the sides settled for a share of the spoils.