Injury blow for Vikings
Hertford 14, North Walsham 6North Walsham lost key player Chris Godwin with a broken leg as they slipped to a narrow defeat at Hertford on Saturday.
Hertford 14, North Walsham 6
North Walsham lost key player Chris Godwin with a broken leg as they slipped to a narrow defeat at Hertford
The open-side flanker, named Walsham's player of the season for 2008-9, underwent an operation at a local hospital after being trapped under a pile of bodies during a battle for possession.
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His injury overshadowed another hard-fought encounter, with the Vikings performing well against their high-flying hosts in testing conditions.
Walsham played against the howling gale in the first half and it looked like being a long 40 minutes when Hertford took the lead from an overlap in the early stages, with a conversion putting them 7-0 ahead.
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But the visitors regrouped and some determined defensive display looked to have seen them through to half-time without any further damage until a controversial refereeing decision cost them dearly just before break.
When Lee Sandberg ran the ball into touch Hertford clearly put it back into play from the wrong position, but they were allowed to continue and a second converted try put the home side 14-0 up at the interval.
With the conditions now in their favour, Walsham proceeded to take command in the second half and it wasn't long before a couple of Justin Loveridge penalties had put them back in the game.
Had Loveridge converted a third kick the Vikings would have moved to within a converted try of their opponents, but crucially it was missed and Hertford knew they had something to cling on to.
It was then that Walsham started to be hit by injuries, with tight head prop Alex Soutar, ever present so far this season, the first player to be forced off.
The unfortunate Godwin then followed on a stretcher before Pena Sokia was hurt, leaving Bruce van Poortvliet to play in a more advanced position. He performed well in an unfamilar role but, try as they might, Walsham were unable to pull back the deficit and slipped to a narrow defeat.
Head coach Tim Malone was obviously disappointed with the result - but was pleased with the overall performance of his side.
'We've now played the sides third, fourth and fifth in the table in our last three games and all of them have been close affairs, which could have gone either way,' he said.
'The league is very tight this season and if a few more of those tight games had gone our way we could easily have been challenging near the top.
'We are playing strong, competitive rugby and although we are being hampered by injuries I'm generally pleased with the way things are going.
'But losing Chris is a big blow - and everyone at the club wishes him a speedy recovery.'