Second-half showing seals stylish success for Midsomer Norton
Wiveliscombe 1st XV 8 - Mid Norton 1st XV 45
Early-season pace-setters Midsomer Norton made their longest trip of the campaign on Saturday and returned from the Devon border with an emphatic victory.
On a warm and muggy day, it took a while for the visitors to get the journey out of their system as the young home side took the game to Norton, who started playing up the slope.
The visitors held out and it was not long before the excellent Rob Fuller and Matthew Denning were making dents in the Wiveliscombe defence.
From a five-metre scrum, Norton's heavier pack disrupted the ball and it fell to centre Richard Martin to touch down over the line. Ben Moon added the conversion and followed it up with a penalty to give Norton a ten-point lead.
The home side were struggling to get a foothold in the game and their lack of discipline cost them when the referee sin-binned one of their pack for constant infringements.
Despite this, Norton needed the help of an eagle-eyed touch judge to deny the home winger after his foot just went into touch.
The second half was a repeat of the previous week as Norton's superior strength and fitness came to the fore and they blew away the opposition with a 20-minute burst.
The excellent Alex Mitchard, who had replaced the equally impressive Fuller at half-time, began breaking through the inside backs' defences and, with Tom Clarke and David Sawkins constantly on his shoulder, Norton started building a lead.
Tries followed through forwards Sawkins, Dan Backhurst and Denning, while the back-line contributed tries from Jamie Verden, Mitchard and the impressive Ross Miller. Moon did not miss a kick as Norton went close to 50 points for the second week running.
The home side raised their game for the last ten minutes and it took good defence from Norton to keep them at bay, although they did score a disputed late try.
Norton sit on top of Tribute Somerset Premier and entertain Stothert & Pitt on Saturday.
Mid Norton 2nd XV 30 Chard 2nd XV 25
Norton seconds maintained their excellent start to the season with another bonus-point win on Saturday but the manner of the victory was not as comfortable as the week before as they were made to fight all the way by a committed Chard team.
Norton should have sealed the win in a dominant first half which saw them score four tries and threaten to cut loose.
The pack were in excellent form, winning the opposition's ball at will in the scrum, while the backs were also dangerous and it was no surprise when good interplay led to the first try of the game.
Lock Jamie Rose had an opening ten minutes to remember as he charged over from close range twice in succession to ease Norton clear.
Flanker Gareth Williams soon increased the lead and his converted try, along with a penalty from fly-half Ben Taylor, had the home side cruising.
Chard showed their attacking prowess, however, and kicked a penalty after a prolonged period of pressure. Norton's response was swift as more good forward work allowed quick ruck ball to be fed to centre James Abbott, who powered over for an excellent try.
Chard responded before half-time with a late try to reduce the deficit to 23-8 at the break.
The second half saw Chard really take the game to the home side. Norton were guilty of a touch of complacency and this nearly cost them dear.
The visitors began to cut loose out wide and scored three unanswered tries to take them into an unlikely lead. Only last-ditch defending from full-back Jack Rowles prevented them from increasing their lead.
Norton finally got their game together and the pack linked with the backs to set up the deciding score. Winger Hugh Jeffery won the foot race to a deft kick ahead from Rowles and touched down.
The Norton defence held firm in the closing stages to seal a hard-fought win and ensure they remain unbeaten at the top of Somerset 1.
On Saturday, they travel to Walcot.