DIVISION ONE NORTH
South Woodham Ferrers 8
Diss made a winning start to life at a higher level, coming out on top during Saturday afternoon’s battle of the promoted teams.
Like champions Diss, South Woodham had been one of the dominant forces in London Two North East last term, eventually going up through the play-offs.
And it was the hosts that got off to the perfect start when a loss of possession from Diss resulted in a well-constructed unconverted try within the opening five minutes.
The away team responded in a positive fashion, producing a period of sustained pressure due to an off-loading game close to the breakdown.
This facet of play proved to be one of the deciding factors within the game, thus enabling Diss the opportunity to relieve pressure at crucial stages.
Meanwhile, South Woodham’s infringements at the breakdown allowed Kieran Pask to comfortably slot two well-taken penalties giving the visitors a slender 6-5 lead after 20 minutes.
South Woodham responded with a series of sustained attacks and should have taken the lead but a combination of poor decision making and stubborn Diss defending repelled the onslaught.
It allowed the visitors the opportunity to string together a series of driving plays.
Led by Stephen Hipwell, John Laurie and the eventual try scorer John Bergin, Diss pressurized the Woodham line forcing themselves over in between the posts, with Kieran Pask converting.
As half-time approached, Woodham reduced the arrears with a penalty, sending Diss into the break with a 13-8 lead.
South Woodham initiated a string of determined attacks from the outset following the interval, but a rearguard spearheaded by Warren Wilby kept them at bay.
Even when Laurie was forced to leave the field with a yellow card, Diss stood firm and shipped no points.
As the game approached its final quarter, Hipwell started to control affairs from the back of a retreating scrummage and in general open play.
And with 15 minutes remaining the victory was rubber-stamped after Jack Peacock kicked deep into the home side’s 22, freeing up Freddie Precious to run in a second Diss try.
The victory also marked a last appearance in the blue shirt for number eight Kimi Latu, who is moving on to pastures new.
Dave Smith’s men are on the road again tomorrow, this time with a trip over the Essex border to take on Colchester (3pm).
The Mill Road-based side also kicked off their season with a victory, beating Diss’ rivals North Walsham 37-24 away from home.