GALLERY: Brooks gets hat-trick as March Bears thump Mildenhall Red Lodge and earn final spot

March Bears v Mildenhall Red Lodge. Picture: Steve Williams.

March Bears v Mildenhall Red Lodge. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

March Bears produced their best performance of the season to thump Mildenhall Red Lodge 34-3 and seal a Greene King Intermediate Plate final spot.

The Bears had lost to the visitors twice this season in the league, but they weren’t going to allow them to complete a hat-trick.

Mildenhall choose to start the game with the strong wind behind them, hoping to keep the Bears pinned in their own half and build a lead.

What Mildenhall came up against was a Bears side that was well drilled and disciplined, taking the game straight to them.

Rucking and mauling, contesting every ball, The March pack drove Mildenhall backwards and the ball was released to the backs.

It quickly went out to winger Michael Croucher, whose turn of pace outstripped the visitors defence to touch down in the corner.

Mildenhall started to make inroads into March territory, but could not break down the resilient Bears defence, although Mildenhall kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit.

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March hit back from the kick off - good work from the forwards secured first and second phase ball, which was spun out to Ben Brooks. He ripped the Mildenhall defence wide apart to touch down.

A good passage of play between forwards and backs enabled stand-off Brooks to get his second try and March went in at half time 15-3 in front.

In the second half, March’s pack dominated the first 15 minutes, allowing Mildenhall hardly any possession.

Hooker Jake Reed crashed over for March’s fourth try, this time converted by Brooks to make it 22-3.

Mildenhall tried desperately to get back into the game, but March’s defence stood firm.

Brooks touched down for his third try, which he converted to take March’s lead to 29-3.

With only minutes left to play, man of the match Croucher received the ball in his 22 metre area and set off on a trade mark run to touch down for his second try of the match, not converted.

Club president Barry Feetham said: “This was a great team performance from all the March Bears players.

“They showed grit, determination and a produced a well-disciplined performance, putting their bodies on the line for the club. They thoroughly deserved their win.

“Many thanks also to the team of volunteers for all their hard work during the game, and the referee’s contribution for keeping the game flowing.”

Bears travel to Newmarket for the final on May 2.