Losing run halted to keep promotion alive
Rochford Hundred 3
Diss RFC halted a run of back-to-back defeats to reignite their promotion charge with a hard-fought victory over visiting Rochford Hundred.
League positions dictated that this was always going to be a close fought encounter, with Rochford attempting to usurp third position from the Norfolk side.
Difficult conditions underfoot and an easterly wind directed the pattern of play for most of the game, with the first half being error strewn with both sides struggling to retain a consistent level of possession from which to establish control in the game.
After eight minutes following a period of phased possession, Diss entered a ruck illegally allowing Jon Fitzpatrick the opportunity to convert the penalty to give the visitors a deserved 3-0 lead.
Diss now found themselves under intense pressure for the remainder of the half, unable to string together any meaningful structure to the game and all too often losing possession in the tackle or in most aspects of loose play.
The Rochford forwards were also exerting worrying pressure at scrum time while their back row had a definite edge retaining possession at the break down.
Throughout the game, Diss adopted a much improved defensive strategy with Matt Cullum, Jon Trede and Jamie Burroughs all setting a fine example that inspired the whole side when Rochford attacked
With the elements in their favour, the hosts attacked from the outset in the second half.
Jack Peacock and full back, Sean McClure, began to use the weather conditions to their advantage. Long diagonal kicks and an intelligent use of space put the Diss pack on the front foot.
The introduction of Tim Groom proved long overdue and had an immediate effect.
From a defending scrummage just outside the Diss 22, Diss asserted telling pressure for the first time in the game and on 48 minutes were awarded a penalty inside the Rochford 22.
Phillip LeLievre slotted the penalty to bring the home side back into the game with the elements now in their favour.
Rochford found themselves not only facing a blizzard but a rejuvenated Diss team, responding to the tactical improvements made since half time and an advancing ability of playing with more tempo and accuracy.
From an attacking scrummage 10 metres out, Kimi Latu picked up to initially be forced wide. However, through sheer strength and determination Latu recovered his composure and charged through numerous tackles to secure the vital touchdown. McClure stepped up to convert to the delight of the Mackenders’ faithful.
A further penalty attempt on 75 minutes was missed by McClure, but the game had been won, with the home side showing true grit in grinding out a deserved and confidence-building victory.
The result leaves Roger Coombs’ charges in third place, two points behind Sudbury in the only play-off place and nine adrift of leaders Saffron Walden in the automatic promotion spot.
The club will now have a break from action before returning on Saturday, March 19, with a trip to ninth-placed Romford and Gidea Park.