Diss’ title challenge is all over
Head coach Roger Coombs conceded Diss’ title quest was over after a defeat away at league-leaders Chelmsford in a top of the table clash.
With the promotion race in London Two North East reaching its climax the Mackenders-based outfit were aiming to cut their opponents’ advantage at the summit which stood at five points prior to kick off.
But with defeat leaving Diss 10 points adrift with just two games remaining, Coombs was left to admit their challenge was over, as he set his sights on sealing a play-off place with victory over third-placed Campion tomorrow (3pm).
“That is definitely the title race over, we won’t catch them now,” he said.
“Even if we had beat them, it would have had to have been a bonus win to catch them but now there is no chance.
“When we went ahead in the second half it looked like it was going to be our game but we made some mistakes and you can’t afford to do that.
“We have to look at the beginning of the season where we lost games against sides that we’ve hammered since and that has cost us.
“We have to finalise second place and I am confident we will do that. If we beat Campion then that will be enough.”
After Simon Hoult missed a difficult early penalty opportunity to put the hosts ahead, Diss were dealt a blow as they were reduced to 14-men following Joshua Ludkin’s yellow card in the eighth minute.
Chelmsford were quick to take advantage and broke the deadlock just a minute later as Chris Hoult collected the ball from the base of a ruck before bundling over the line. Simon Hoult failed to add the extras as his conversion went wide of the posts.
With their full quota of players back on the field the visitors reduced the deficit after 22 minutes through Jack Peacock’s simple penalty.
However, the home side were quick to extend their advantage once more with a second try four minutes later.
A flowing move from right to left saw Jamie Ash offload to James Morrish to race through and score. This time Simon Hoult added the conversion to leave the score at 12-3.
The visitors responded superbly to the setback and following a period of prolonged pressure cut the deficit to just two points with their first try.
Paul Cayley found himself in space and produced an outstanding off-load to send Ryan Carter over on the right-hand side, Peacock converting.
With the half drawing to a close, Chelmsford added a simple penalty through Simon Hoult, while Peacock missed an equally good opportunity as the home side went into the break with a 15-10 lead.
Just as he had at the start of the first-half, Simon Hoult missed a difficult long range penalty for the home side before Peacock cut the deficit to two points after 50 minutes with an accurate kick.
The home side were reduced to 14-men shortly after as Harry Simpson was sinbinned. And with momentum behind them and a man advantage, the visitors took the lead for the first time in the match after 54 minutes.
A quick move down the right-hand side involving Carter, Giles West and Matthew Trede, the latter burst through a gap in the defensive line to race clear and score under the posts. However in bizarre circumstances, Peacock failed to add the simple conversion as the ball rolled off the kicking-tee during his run up.
That let off appeared to spur the home side on who charged to victory in the final 15 minutes.
Another flowing move close to the Diss try line resulted in Jack Acorn crashing over in the left-hand corner. Simon Hoult fell short with the extras to leave the score at 20-18.
Hoult was again unfortunate in the 73rd minute with another penalty coming back off the inside of the post before he sealed the win in the final minute as he intercepted a wayward pass to race clear from his own half and score.
Hoult converted the resulting conversion himself to all but seal the league title.