Ely Tigers travelled to Fakenham having been forced to make changes to their starting XV, due to injury and player unavailability.
Ely got the game underway kicking into the brisk wind coming off the Norfolk Coast, and within 5 minutes of the start they found themselves ahead with the opening try, after a break by Mitch Kennett, with Grant Storey picking up the loose ball, Storey headed towards the try line, finally being tackled just before the line, but a outstretched arm was enough to ground the ball, the conversion was missed by Jake Alsop.
With 15 minutes on the clock the home side had the chance to get on the score board, after they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, with the wind in their advantage they went for the kicking option, with ease, at the same time of the ball going over, Ely were dealt a blow as captain Matt McCarthy was forced off with an ankle injury.
The next meaningful play for the home side, on 20 minutes, saw them ahead, as missed tackles from Tigers proved to be costly as the home side moved the ball from right to left, leaving an overlap for home side to run in a try, with the conversion added a five point gap opened up, the gap opened even further on the half hour mark, another penalty against Ely, the home side broke down the wing, unchallenged to score, and with the conversion added, the score was 17-5, the home side applied pressure on Tigers, forcing errors, and the penalty count was increasing at a rate.
Ely could then apply pressure on the home side having been awarded a penalty of their own, but again an error saw the ball handed back to Fakenham, and with that chance they moved out of their own half and back into the Tiger’s territory, while move up the field they were once again handed another penalty, in front of the posts, which was easily converted to make the score 20-5.
Ely’s best chance, as half time loomed, was after some good pressure as Alfie Ramswell, Jim Storey, Jacob Muncey and Luke Cornwell all looked for a where pass the home defence, with Tom Green finally taking the mantle and darting towards the try line, but the try was cancelled out due to “double movement” giving the ball back to Fakenham, Ely finally found a way over the line, with Cornwell wining the ball in the line out, as Ely was able surge forward with Nathan Brooks, grounding the ball.
The second half saw Ely camped out in the Fakenham try line area, but time after time the home side stood firm and pushed back Ely, Muncey went the closest from a scrum, but was held up, so it was back to a scrum, again the home side stood firm, a knock on from Storey gave the ball back to the home side when the try line was insight, from the resulting scrum Ely stole the ball with Green passing out to Jack Yates, but again a handling error proved costly as the ball was dropped and knocked on, giving the home side chance to gain some yards, with kick, this was picked up by Joel Scott Paul, but again as Ely went forward there was once more an error, handing the ball back to Fakenham, in a rare visit into the Ely half by the home side saw Ely under pressure once more and a quickly taken penalty enabled Fakenham to gain some yards, and another penalty was awarded, and again they decided to go for points, under the posts, to make the score line 23-10.
With the game slipping away, Ely win the ball at a line out, the ball found Muncey, who goes on a powerful run allowing replacement Adam Featherstone going over the line, to cut the gap to 8 points, with the gap closing Ely once more handed another penalty to Fakenham, and a chance to extend the lead, the penalty wasn’t in kicking distance, and the home side looked to kick into touch to apply pressure, but some “back chat” to the referee saw the penalty advance a further 10 meters, and the ball into kicking distance, kicking into the wind, the kick was unsuccessful, with time running out there was still chance for another try, and it was Ely who had the last word with Muncey going over the try line with Alsop adding the extra points as the game ended with a 23-22 win for Fakenham.
The defeat leaves Ely in 3rd place still, but only 2 points ahead of Thetford in 4th place, as the two sides meet at Ely on the 15th.
Match report and Photographs: Steve Wells