First away win joy for Walsham Vikings
Havant 26, North Walsham 27
North Walsham won their first away match of the season in an end to end encounter marked by an excellent overall team performance.
A late converted try from Adie Ball took them out of the bottom two of National League Three London and South East and in a position to challenge the teams just above them.
This was a thoroughly absorbing game for the neutral observer, although there weren't many of these at Hooks Lane, in Havant's Diamond Jubilee season.
Walsham scored first after five minutes when Chris Kent touched down following a line-out three metres from the Havant goal line, but Jake Harris was unable to convert. Havant replied with a penalty three minutes later.
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The Vikings pack settled well against their heavier opponents, but Havant lock Nick Whittle managed an impressive run up the right wing to score a try, bringing the score to 8-5 as the conversion was unsuccessful.
On 22 minutes centre Gavin Hart extended the lead to 13-5, his outside half again missing the conversion.
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End-to-end kicks and rolling mauls continued to feature until Walsham centre Harris kicked a penalty, following dangerous play by their opponents. The Vikings' No 13 was unsuccessful with a further penalty five minutes later.
Three minutes before half-time Jake Harris was yellow carded for not being 10 metres distant from the penalty taker, given after some sustained pressure on the Walsham goal-line.
The first half ended at 13-8 with a melee in front of the stand after an altercation between second row players.
For the second half the Walsham back row of Coller, Hegarty and Howard continued to be everywhere in the loose, and ferocious in the tackle, while Davies and Kent were prominent in the lineout. Matthew Oaks swapped seamlessly for Tom Coller at 50 minutes while Shane van Vuuren on the left wing pulled a hamstring early in this half but continued in robust fashion.
Havant left wing Jarryd Robinson scored a try on 54 minutes, the conversion again going begging. End- to-end kicking, keeping the ball in play, continued until Jack Hoyles dashed in under the posts to touch down for the Vikings, Harris converting. The score was now 18-15 with all to play for. Grant Morris, the Havant scrum half, twisted and rolled to score a try on 66 minutes, his full back missing the conversion.
Mark McCall now had to come off with a recurrence of a right rib injury, Tim Mason ably slotting in at loose head, hooker Mike Henry taking over line-out throws and Dom Roberts continuing to run an efficient tight head.
Walsham right wing Adie Ball crossed the line five minutes later, the conversion by Harris coming back off the right upright. Then, the Havant No 10 kicked a penalty to bring the score to 26-20.
With time running out Lee Sandberg fed Ball who sped 25 metres to cross the try line, with Harris providing what proved to be the match winning conversion. The final five minutes continued in end to end fashion, captain Jamie Burroughs marshalling stern defence in the centre and full back Barrie Frost secure under the high ball.
There are many new players in the Viking ranks this season who have become imbued with the North Walsham team spirit, and they are not finished yet.