L&Y step up a gear on the road to recovery
Lowestoft & Yarm’th 29 Stowmarket 19
L&Y showed they still have some life in their legs yet as they pulled a little further away from the drop zone of London 2NE and leap-frogged their opponents Stowmarket into ninth place in the league on 30 points with a game in hand over all the teams below them.
Three of the four games left are now at home, but two are against top teams and the away game is a difficult trip to Chelmsford. With North Walsham losing in the cup they now visit Gunton Park on March 30.
Despite a reshuffle in the pack due to shortages, it was up front the game was won, with L&Y having a dominant game at the set-pieces and their control at the breakdown slowing the Stowmarket attempts at a wide game. The conditions were awful but with some lenient refereeing both teams had a game effort to play some attacking rugby, leading to an enjoyable game and seven tries in all.
L&Y took the lead from a Dave Tiueti penalty after 5 minutes, and the next 20 remained scoreless despite some end-to-end play. Richard Bristo and Martyn Greenwood had their props under the cosh in the scrums, allowing the swift L&Y back row of Josh Fewkes, Steve Adams and Ben Selby to win most of the ground battles and hassle the opposing attack.
Some clever territorial kicks from Scott Nelson and Russ Chapman forced a five-metre scrum and a hook against the head by Chris Howe gave Selby the space to pick up and score from the base. Tiueti added the points then L&Y showed a rare ruthless quality by continuing the percentage play and pressure and 10 minutes later forcing another scrum where Chapman intercepted the pop pass from the Stowmarket no8 and plunged over for a second try. Tiueti then stretched the lead to an unanswered 17 points at the break.
In the second half, after a number of drives, a hole opened up for Nelson to scamper through to the left of the posts for Tiueti to miss the conversion into the wind. Some indecisive passing and poor clearances into the wind put L&Y under pressure from the kick -ff and although some stout defensive work by the forwards held the L&Y line, some crisp handling saw the Stowmarket right winger in the corner.
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L&Y lost Selby and Tiueti to leg injuries, so Howe moved from hooker to no8 and young fly-half Tom Dare took up position in a reshuffled backline.
With Carl Stephenson now in at hooker the scrum continued to drive Stowmarket back and some sterling work by locks Russ Wilkinson and Tom Port in the loose kept L&Y driving forward.
After 60 minutes a break by winger Stu Moore led to string of phases which finished with Myles McAlone exploiting the space and diving over and Chapman then coolly converting.
With the bonus sealed, L&Y relaxed and first conceded a needless kick and chase try when some sloppy handling midfield saw the ball hacked ahead and the footrace won by Stowmarket’s centre. He bagged another with 10 minutes to go following a frantic phase of play gave Stowmarket an overlap on the left which finished under the posts.
L&Y: Greenwood, Howe, Bristo, Wilkinson, Port, Fewkes, Adams, Selby, Chapman, Nelson, Moore, Tiueti, McAlone, MacArthur, Howell
Bench: Beales, Dare, Stephenson
Tries: Selby, Chapman, Nelson, McAlone
Cons: Tiueti 2, Chapman