Ely Tigers suffer first loss of term as Thetford take spoils from close-fought encounter
- Credit: Archant
Ely Tigers suffered their first defeat of the London Three Eastern Counties season after going down 22-19 at Thetford.
Forced into changes due to injury, including to captain Matt McCarthy, they fell behind when the hosts touched down in the corner.
Ely looked to push forward form the restart, with Joel Scott Paul slotting a penalty to make it 5-3, but Thetford replied with a kick of their own soon after.
Luke Turner, playing his first game of the season, found some space on the wing to cross in the corner, but the conversion was missed to level the scores level.
Ely then took the lead for the first time with another Scott Paul penalty and, as the game ebbed and flowed from end to end, the home side missed a chance to draw level when another penalty hit the upright and bounced to safety.
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The visitors increased their lead with another penalty from Scott Paul, but with half time approaching the home side hit back with a converted try under the posts to lead 15-14 at the interval.
The second half started just as the first, with both sides looking to attack, but conditions were making it difficult for either to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
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Tigers were ealt a blow when Jacob Muncey limped off, but looked to have found some space as they moved to ball from left to right, only for the referee to bring play to a halt due to an injury.
Ely then cleared the restart for a lineout and were edging forward, but a mistake gave the ball back to Thetford for a chance to clear their lines and move further downfield, where they were awarded a further penalty.
Opting to kick, a decision that took some by surprise considering the conditions and with the kick only just over the halfway line, looked to have been the right option, until the ball crashed off the crossbar.
But another dropped ball by Ely gave the home side another chance and only a last-ditch tackle prevented another score.
As the game drew to a close, Ely pushed forward and on the stroke of full time got thiee reward with Nathen Brooks diving over the line.
But the conversion was missed as the Tigers came up short, but the losing bonus point means they stay in third place, with West Norfolk sitting at the top of the league.