Holt earn promotion to London 2NE
By Joanna Storey
Tightly contested promotion play-off against a good East London squad
Thank you to Martyn Sloman for this match report & photo's by Stuart Young.
Holt emerged as winners in this tightly contested promotion play-off game, but they needed to produce their best performance of the season.
There were few early indications of the excitements to come as the visiting side from West Ham controlled possession and territory in the opening phases. Their veteran number 8 Dan Bracken repeatedly proved effective in carrying the ball from the back of an advancing scrum and Holt needed some determined defence to prevent the organised opposition forwards from crossing their line.
It was against the run of play Holt that opened the scoring. Their ever reliable scrum-half, Bruce van Poortvliet, sold an outrageous dummy from the back of a scrum and, from 30 metres, ghosted through to score under the posts. Geoff Flather converted. Shortly afterwards centre Aaron Tagg made a determined run which led to a try for wing Thomas Goose. Although the conversion failed Holt were now ahead 12-0. Then it was the turn of the other Holt centre Alastair Hughes to make an individual break to score with Geoff Flather again converting.
Just before half-time the score became a fairer reflection of play when a series of concerted drives by the East London forwards led to a try by prop Mantas Urbonavicius taking the score to 19-5.
It had been a high tempo game and it was evident that fitness would count and the visitors were clearly growing in confidence as the second half began. East London outside-half Ryan Billinghurst scored a penalty and then the impressive Urbonavicius scored a second try which Billinghurst converted taking the score to 19-15.
Two decisive strikes from Holt then secured the game. First, substitute hooker Tim Allen delivered a controlled chip to the corner for James Wyatt to collect and score an unconverted try. Next came Holt’s try of the season. East London were pressing and a Holt turnover led to a speculative long pass to Thomas Goose who was isolated on the wing. He had the courage and self-confidence to beat three defenders and then run a full 80 metres to score under the posts with James Wyatt converting. The game was secure despite a last minute try for East London by centre Ben Stern converted by Billinghurst.
Wing-forward Henry Harrison was Holt’s Norfolk Brewhouse Man of the Match.
Promotion to the higher league of London 2NE means that Holt will join Norwich, a demoted Diss side, and promoted Wymondham in a league that will produce a lot of exciting Norfolk derby's.