North Walsham rewrote the club’s record books with an 18-try thumping of Braintree, eclipsing the 85-3 win over Cinderford five seasons ago.

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However the size of the scoreline will have no bearing on the survival struggle as the maximum five points was in the bag when the fourth try was scored after 16 minutes.

Rivals Rochford pocketed a maximum from their win over Ruislip and remain one point ahead with one round of fixtures to be played.

Coach Nick Greenhall had been able to select pretty much the side he would have wished for, giving another start to scrum-half Dean Blyth following his storming game at Brentwood in the absence of Ollie Hardisty, who was on the bench. As expected Ben Campbell was called into hooking duties in place of injured Mark McCall.

The visitors applied some early pressure until the seventh minute when a loose ball was claimed by Ewan Wilson and taken up by Robin Praat and Leon Davies before Shane van Vuuren on the right flank made the final metres and dived over for the first score. Outside half Jamie Forrester slotted the first of 14 successful conversions. From the restart Forrester hoisted a kick, followed up with a big tackle and centre Stephen Hyde sliced through the defence like a hot knife through butter to score under the bar.

It had quickly become obvious that this was going to be a one sided contest but the crowd could not have foreseen the avalanche of tries that was to follow against Braintree, who clearly had selection problems.

With the game still in the first quarter the bonus point was in the bag as first Forrester and then van Vuurren, courtesy of a big drive from Tibbatts, both touched down.

By half-time the Vikings had taken their points tally past the half century mark with Hyde, Chris Borrett, Wilson and flanker Tom Coller all crossing and Forrester adding three further conversions.

Greenhall made just one change at half-time, replacing the hard working Chris Godwin with Chris Hamilton and shuffling the back five. Straight from the restart Forrester kicked a penalty to five metres, Davies set the catch and drives and Coller at the back made it a double.

The visitors were having trouble with their restart ball, no less than five failing to go the regulation distance and each time their pack was driven back. From one such scrum Tibbatts took the ball off the back and fed Hyde who ran in from halfway practically untouched.

Chris Kent, who had enjoyed the freedom to charge at the defence, scored a brace of tries, the second with Borrett on his shoulder. He decided to dummy and go it alone, but when a third beckoned he did put a well timed pass into Borrett’s hands for the full back to score his second.

Forrester then hoisted a kick to the corner followed up, stripped the ball from the defender and dived over the line. The final 10 minutes produced four more tries. Tom Coller, dominant in the line-out, nicked a Braintree throw and Will Hodgson was the eighth player to get his name on the try scorers’ list. The final five minutes saw Hyde cross three further times, the last and sixth on the stroke of time, equalling the club record set by Andy Thorpe, who scored six against Rosslyn Park five years ago to the day. Forrester almost certainly achieved another club record with an individual tally of 38 points.

Walsham now know a win at Bury St Edmunds on Saturday – no easy task of course – will guarantee safety, with fellow strugglers Brentwood and Rochford playing each other.

The result at Rochford means that the outcome will come down to what happens at Bury st Edmunds and Brentwood next Saturday.

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