North Walsham expecting a tough battle against visitors Southend Saxons
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham will be looking to build on last weekend's hard-fought win at Amersham and Chiltern when they entertain Southend Saxons in their latest London 1N fixture.
As last Saturday's game proved playing a side below you in the table does not offer the chance of an easy ride, and the second placed Vikings know the Saxons will present another serious challenge,
The Essex side were regular opponents from the early 1980s until the end of the 2006/7 season when they were promoted and Walsham suffered a temporary decline. However their time at the higher level came to an end in May and they have had to regroup.
Their record this term has seen them rooted in the lower regions of the table but three good wins over teams in the relegation zone have lifted them to eighth.
With no apparent injuries last week coach Johnny Marsters will once again have few changes to contemplate. He will however be without Dan Bird, who has been an ever present since his move from Swaffham, the lock starting a suspension following a red card at Amersham. His place alongside Ryan Oakes is likely to go to Aussie Matt Travers.
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The only other change to the pack is likely to come from a shuffle of the front row, although having started shakily against Amersham they adjusted and enjoyed parity for the remainder of the game, helped to a degree by centre James Knight, who went into the back row for the set-pieces.
The back line also looks settled but if Jake Duffield has recovered from the slight hamstring pull in training last week he could return to contention.
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Kick-off is as usual 3pm but anyone looking for additional entertainment can come to support the Raiders who take on Wymondham II at 2pm.
North Walsham (from): D Canning, T Browes, T Knight, L Brown-Bates, W Hodgson, R Oakes, M Travers, W Swart, C Godwin, R Miller, L Thomson, M Hodgson, J Knight, J Milligan, D Dejongh, J Riley, M Braans, J Duffield.
North Walsham Raiders (from): F Scott, A Downing, M McCall, N Rokodinono, N Bensley, J Parker, G Rossi, L Clarke, M Batty, D Goodrich, B O'Hickey, G Isbell, M Travers, T Coller, E Sampson, A Houghton, R Harwood, H Hunt, V Vurewa, H Dye, A Beaumont.
Diss travel to Sudbury for a crucial lower half of the table clash with another side struggling to find any consistent form in London IN.
Over the last two weeks Diss have played with a growing vigour and a much higher level of continuity, despite going down against Fullerians (39-19) and Old Priorians (36-14).
Losing does unfortunately become a habit and this has certainly become a factor in the performances thus far.
Many positives can be taken from last week's performance against Old Priorians. The introduction of Marco Mongia at scrum-half lifted the side's positivity, whilst also enhancing the attacking opportunities of the three quarter line with a rapid delivery from the base of first and second phase possession.
Peter Bray returns to the front row this week and will be supported by the evergreen Tim Groom, who will as always make an impact from the bench.
George Easton switches position in an otherwise unchanged eight that totally dominated Old Priorians last week. In the three quarters Fred Precious returns to the wing, with Jamie Burroughs moving into the centre in place of Warren Wilby.
One consistent factor this season has been the outstanding form of Chris Beaird at full-back. He will certainly be relishing the opportunity of releasing Shaun Blyth and Andre Dunn on one of the best surfaces in the Eastern Counties.
While Diss have lost all 11 of their games so far Sudbury have been beaten eight times and stand fifth from bottom in the table.
In London Three Eastern Counties leaders Holt resume their campaign with a visit to near neighbours Fakenham (2pm), The newly promoted hosts stand ninth in the table although if past experience is anything to go by the local derby is likely to be a close encounter.
Holt II and III are away to UEA and Beccles II respectively.
Wymondham, who are four points behind Holt having played one more game, should fancy their chances of the keeping up the pressure on the leaders when they entertain bottom side Ipswich WM. Elsewhere West Norfolk make the short trip to Wisbech and Thetford are at home to an improving Crusaders side.