Injury-hit Diss show promotion pedigree

WINNERS: Diss players celebrate a try

WINNERS: Diss players celebrate a try

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LONDON LEAGUE

TWO NORTH EAST

Diss 30 Old Cooperians 15

Powerhouse John Laurie believes Saturday’s top-of-the-table win with a patched up side to reach the summit shows Diss now have what it takes to gain promotion.

Despite being without six first-team players mainly through injuries, including their unavailable captain Fraser Hall, Dave Smith’s charges out-fought and out-thought previously unbeaten Old Cooperians to usurp their position at the top of the division with a bonus-point victory.

Number eight Laurie, in his fourth season with the club having come over from New Zealand, was not expecting to play, having missed the last four games with a shoulder injury.

But despite only claiming to be ‘60 or 70 per cent fit’ he came off the bench to replace concussed stand-in captain Giles West within half-an-hour to put in a man-of-the-match display as time after time he gained valuable ground to carry Diss up the pitch.

And he felt the team’s performance in adversity underlined their promotion credentials.

“Considering we had three or four players out of position, it was a pretty good turnout in the end,” he said

“We will definitely take that one. It keeps the unbeaten league record at home going as well.”

After seeing their advantage wiped out at the start of the second half, Diss could have caved in, but responded in the perfect fashion to record a thrilling four tries to two win.

“There were times last season where we would maybe have dropped our heads, but it is a whole different environment this year,” said Laurie.

Asked if it sends out a statement he replied: “Yes, absolutely. We have been there or thereabouts for the last few seasons and it has just been depth which has let us down.

“Luckily, now we can rely on those boys coming up from the second team a lot more and we are getting good numbers to training as well, which always helps.

“We have got some good young players coming through which we haven’t had for the last few years. Hopefully we can keep it going.

“It’s our travelling games that are going to be the biggest test.”

Diss, who were protecting a two-and-a-half-year unbeaten home league record, took a 10-5 lead into the break. Centre Philip LeLeivre’s jinking run almost half the length of the pitch in the 31st minute, after catching a loose ball, was converted by Sean McClure after his early penalty had put the Blues ahead.

Old Cooperians’ response had come just two minutes later when Joe Bilton had smartly kicked through for lightening winger Kolade Awobowale to dart through and ground.

The visitors went 12-10 ahead within a minute of the restart after repeating the trick, with Greg Fox this time providing the long ball for Awobowale to dive on.

Unperturbed, Diss regained the lead when McClure put over a penalty after great ball-carrying from Laurie, before Steve Hipwell soon crashed through from the base of a scrum for an unconverted try.

The outcome continued to hang in the balance after Morgan’s successful penalty brought them to within three points at 18-15.

But Freddie Precious’ first try, stepping inside the full-back after the ball was shipped out to the right-hand side, pulled them clear again before the teenage winger’s quick-thinking at a lineout, swiftly feeding Leleivre, who jinked over the line once again, put the result beyond doubt 12 minutes from time.

Diss: 1 Richards, 2 E Hudson, 3 Groom, 4 Abercrombie, 5 Page, 6 Trede, 7 Fuller, 8 Hipwell, 9 Burroughs, 10, McClure, 11 Precious, 12 Girdler, 13 LeLeivre, 14 Goymour, 15 West (c).

Replacements: Passmore, Laurie, Jones.

Diss Express Man of the Match: John Laurie.

n Diss III ran riot in Newmarket with an 11-try bonanza seeing them cruise to a 68-10 victory. Jordan Harris scored a hat-trick of tries, while others came from John Alexander (2), James Clarke (2), Karlton Gray, Benny Gooderham, Robert Spinks and Naz Gurgin.

n Diss Vixens’ coach James Stanley was pleased with the Under-15s’ performance at Crusaders in a game where they could only score after three rucks, which quickly promoted contact and tackling. He also praised the fledgling Under-13s for their Crusaders’ display.