Ipswich 32 North Walsham 38
Ipswich 32 North Walsham 38
The Scottow faithful travelled in numbers to closest rivals Ipswich and saw their side win a closely fought game to extend their lead at the top of London 2NE to 13 points.
With just five matches left to play Walsham are now firmly in the driving seat to land the title – but know there is still work to do, even though this was a highly significant step on their journey.
After last week's deluge of tries, scores against a resolute home side were hard earned and the Vikings had to call on all their resources to come out on top.
Both teams scored five tries but the Viking's ability to punch up the middle and exploit the Ipswich back row's failure to defend in the right places allowed Henry Dewing to enjoy a faultless display of kicking and make the difference.
With conditions ideal for open running rugby the early exchanges were fairly equal but after a solid drive into the Ipswich 22 and quick ball Jack Hoyles' classy show and go allowed him to coast over between the posts.
Ipswich came back with a penalty from Craig Burrows and followed up with a well worked try down the short side when the Vikings were caught short handed.
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However, Nick Greenhall's side were starting to settle down and their ability to adjust their game yielded another driving maul up the middle and after quick hands from the returning Lee Sandberg, Hoyles drifted over again under the posts, the conversion being a formality.
Another penalty from Ipswich kept them in the hunt but the Vikings came back strongly and Gerald Hegarty went over close in after another drive. Half-time saw Walsham 24-11 ahead but the hosts were still very much in the game.
Ipswich came out strongly in the second half. The Vikings had to defend in numbers but a try from Sheldon which was converted put the home side right back in the hunt. However the ebb and flow of the game continued and Walsham came back with a driving set piece in the Ipswich 22 resulting in a well earned try by Tom Williams who was having a good game at No 8. Had he not touched down such was the Vikings' dominance that a penalty try looked on the cards.
Then, after another trademark surge from Chris Kent up the middle and quick ball, Lee Sandberg nipped over under the posts. The Swedish international had a quiet game but his speed and accuracy of pass gave others time and space and the Vikings looked the more fluent outfit.
Hodgson and Knight looked strong in the centre and Pena Sokia was his usual tigerish self, doing his bit for the team on the wing. At 38-18 to the good the Scottow faithful were looking to celebrate but Ipswich dug in and once again came back strongly. Two late tries put them right back in it and the Vikings had to hold their nerve to confirm a deserved win. Overall they were the better side. Their set-piece went well and apart from a few lapses in concentration their defensive organisation and ability to produce extra quality at crucial times proved conclusive.
Leon Davies led the side in his inimitable style and as one North Walsham stalwart remarked at the final whistle the result was 'never in doubt'. The look on Nick Greenhall's face, however, was one of relief.
North Walsham Raiders 80 Wisbech II 0
North Walsham Raiders put the disappointment of last week's defeat firmly behind them with a stunning 12 try performance against Wisbech.
Quickly into their stride they had a converted try on the board in just over five minutes and despite losing a forward to a red card dominated in all areas. By half-time the score was up to 33-0 and they carried on in the same vein in the second half.
No 8 Danny Berghan was in devastating form and topped the scoring list with a hat-trick of tries with two each for Connor Tovee-Galey, Chad Seeley, Bradley Key and Dean Blyth and the other going to young centre Ted Morgan. Tovee-Galey added seven conversions, Seeley two and Blyth one.