Late penalty denies Diss a place in final
Diss missed out on a place in the Norfolk Challenge Cup final after losing 8-5 to lower league Norwich at Mackenders on Saturday.
Norwich, who ply their trade a league below Diss in London Two North East, were thoroughly-deserved winners against their hosts.
In conditions that called for a defined game plan and a determined defensive strategy, Norwich possessed both elements needed, especially an outstanding rearguard in defence, which set up a final scoring opportunity deep into the last quarter.
The visitors controlled possession from the outset, placing Diss under extreme pressure.
On five minutes, a superb cross-kick set up Norwich’s first scoring opportunity.
With the ball skidding on a wet and difficult surface, Theo Elliot secured possession to open the scoring and place the home side under immediate pressure.
It took Diss some 20 minutes to respond, eventually controlling possession through their forwards and pressurising the Norwich 22.
Possession from a driving line-out should have resulted in a score for the hosts, but poor decision-making and ball retention allowed Norwich to resist the onslaught time and time again.
John Bergin and Matt Richards led a determined drive through the heart of the Norwich midfield, allowing Aaron Forest to also use an intelligent cross kick, which was quickly seized upon by Shaun Blyth.
Blyth won the foot race to the ball to draw the scores level on the stroke of half time.
With playing conditions deteriorating rapidly in the second half, patience was required, coupled with a clear strategy, in order to seize the few scoring opportunities that were likely to manifest themselves.
Diss attacked nonstop over a 20-minute period without success.
Time and again the Norwich team placed their bodies on the line in order to wait for that one opportunity to secure victory.
A Diss five-metre scrummage should have resulted in some sort of score, but not controlling possession at crucial times proved the nemesis of the week.
Bergin and Fraser Hall manfully strove to take the game deep into the Norwich half, only to see possession squandered or attacking opportunities halted by the stern visiting defence.
Deep into the final quarter, Norwich lifted the siege and placed the home side under pressure for the first time in the half.
Norwich were eventually awarded a penalty some 30 metres out, for an infringement at a ruck.
Elliot calmly stepped up to kick the penalty to secure a well-deserved and hard-fought victory for the visitors and deny Diss a place in the final.
• Elsewhere, Diss Vixens Under-15s gave a good account of themselves in 47-22 defeat away at Barkers Butts in the National Cup on Sunday.
Diss started strongly with the forwards dominating play and scored two early tries to lead 12-0 after 10 minutes.
The visitors’ second try sparked Barkers into life and they scored three unconverted tries to go 15-12 up heading into half time.
After the break, Diss played uphill and began to tire, with Barkers having a full 22 player squad they were able to roll fresh legs on at will.
The hosts continued to find more and more holes in the Diss defence as they strengthened their lead, but the Vixens did score two more unconverted tries before the final whistle to cap one of their best performances so far.
• A depleted Diss Under-14s came away from their trip to Newmarket with a 22-14 victory at the weekend.
Ben Waters broke through within minutes to score the first try for the visitors, before Newmarket responded when their mercurial 10 demonstrated his pace and quickly ran through to score.
Diss forwards, led by Freddie Potter, fought hard in every breakdown and Waters was soon setting off again to score his second try.
Finlay Martin and Potter took the half time score to 22-5, with Newmarket only able to score one try after the break as Diss ran out winners.