Norwich Crusaders 22
Head coach Leonard Veenendaal rang in the New Year with some sweeping changes in the Wisbech first team away league clash on Saturday.
Third placed Norwich Crusaders had narrowly took the spoils in the reverse fixture earlier in the season at Wisbech by converting two late penalties.
On Saturday Wisbech brought in veterans Jon Turner and Mark Laws into the back line and Ben Chapman and Greg Brownlow into the second row. Veenendaal’s bold decision to change the makeup of the team soon bore dividends when on five minutes fly half Jack Malkin crossed the line. Wisbech continued to look impressive - playing on the front foot and mid-way through the half centre Jon Turner went over to score a well work try and with Marks Laws adding the conversion Wisbech were in control. A converted home penalty got Crusaders on the board but shortly after another penetrating and powerful break from mid field saw James Napier score a converted try. However before half time Crusaders scored a try after turning a scrum inside Wisbech’s five metre 180 degrees which allowed the home scrum half the chance to dive over the line.
After the break Wisbech continued to control the game, Turner was once again on the score sheet blasting his way over the line and the impressive Sam Anderson playing his first full game after injury was on hand to score Wisbech’s fifth try which Laws converted. Winger Rory Willis scored his first try at senior level when he went over in the corner. Unfortunately within the final 10 minutes Wisbech let their concentration slip as the home ran in two consolation tries . Ben Chapman and Nathan Goodale put in impressive all round performances.
“I know that the players who were asked to drop down to the second team this week would have been disappointed, but after the home defeat to Newmarket prior to Christmas, where discipline cost us the game the club could not afford to drop further down the league and become involved in a relegation battle,” said manager Cliff Humphreys.
“Leonard was right to makes the changes. It was very pleasing though to see those players respond positively by help the seconds to record an excellent victory over Shelford fourth in the league.
“I have watched most of the games this season and hold the view that Wisbech, who can play excellent rugby, have beaten themselves in all but the heavy defeat away to league leaders Thetford who Wisbech entertain at home on Saturday, kick off 2pm.
“I call upon all players to respond and work with Leonard at training this week and give him the headache of team selection because of players availability and not for any other reasons.”