North Walsham Raiders share spoils with league leaders
PUBLISHED: 11:31 16 March 2017
Having been trounced by Fakenham earlier in the season the Raiders were able to field a stronger and better balanced side in the return at Scottow and shared the spoils in a 24-24 draw.
Fakenham, who have had an outstanding season, arrived having lost just one game in the first weekend, top the table and needing just three points to seal a well deserved promotion.
The home side was strengthened by the inclusion of Pena Sokia, after a season long lay-off, and Mike Braans and Chris Kent, both experienced members of the Vikings’ squad. Due to a couple of late call-offs young Colts Will Haynes and Isaac Bartlett were late additions to the squad.
On a bright afternoon and decent surface the Raiders where quickly into their stride and inside centre Calvin Ball burst over wide out for an unconverted try. It soon became obvious that this would be a game between two sides trying to play a very different style of rugby, the visitors relying on their forwards to drive forward and the Raiders playing a more expansive game.
Fakenham took the lead with a converted try but following a long run Vilikesa Vurewa was brought down on the 22 metre line and the Raiders, awarded a penalty, took a quick tap and fellow Fijian Sokia drove over.
Fakenham lost full back George Ready to the sinbin and in his absence the combination of Braans and full back Jon Younie broke the line and the latter touched down and Braans converted. Fakenham reduced the deficit to three with a try for Rory Singleton converted by Tom Bane-Young. The Raiders then lost Sokia with an ankle injury, allowing Bartlett to make his senior debut.
After the break Fakenham levelled the scores with a penalty before a ball kicked long was chased by Ball and Harry Dye who harried the sole defender into an error and Ball went in from distance to score under the bar, Braans restoring the lead. The visitors stuck to their game plan and after some sprited defence veteran scrum-half Paul Richardson dived over and the conversion levelled the scores.
The final quarter saw Fakenham having to deploy their defensive skills to good effect and the draw was a fair result. Despite a four try bonus Raiders stayed in fourth place in the table.