North Walsham give high-flyers a good game
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham 21 Eton Manor 29
Despite having little but pride to play for North Walsham's final home league match of the season against promotion-chasing Eton Manor was fiercely contested.
In the end the away team's greater need overcame Walsham's stout resistance and they held on to win and set up a showdown with table-topping Colchester next weekend.
The visitors went ahead on 11 minutes when lively winger Reece Reed carried the ball deep into the right hand corner and flung a pass into the centre where scrum-half Nicholas Horton touched down between the posts, with Callum McKie converting.
When Eton Manor attacked the wind made their kicks much more dangerous and one was followed up well and Dan Goodrich conceded a penalty for holding the ball on the ground. The ball was kicked deep into touch, and when Reed – now moved to scrum-half – kicked cleverly from the back of a subsequent scrum, flanker Jack Tovey ran in to score, with McKie's conversion attempt missing its target.
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Approaching half-time, the visitors' line had hardly been threatened, but a typically strong Shane van Vuuren charge down the left resulted in good possession. So desperate became the defence that first Nicholas Hicks was yellow-carded and then referee Grant Phillips awarded an added-time penalty try, Henry Dewing converting to make it 7-12.
A short period of controlled possession from Eton Manor then led to Reed nipping over for a try, converted this time by McKie.
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The visitors then suffered their second yellow – hooker Tryson Goodchild for deliberate offside – and at last Walsham began to dominate territory. Midway through the half the pressure told and Rhys Davies-Horne skipped over for a deserved try, with Dewing converting.
Despite playing with 14, Eton Manor were still able to keep the ball in the Walsham half after the restart and replacement forward Mika Waqa grabbed a loose ball and touched down for his side's fourth and final try, converted by McKie.
The Vikings continued to press the visitors back when they could – and McKie's yellow card certainly helped. Their defence was strong though, and Walsham continued their habit of conceding possession too easily.
Eton Manor's final attack was rewarded with a penalty for deliberately collapsing the scrum and McKie converted to make the score 14-29.
There was one minute to go and Eton Manor relaxed, allowing Hodgson to crash through for the last try of the game after typically strong running from his fellow centre James Knight. Dewing converted with the final kick of the match.
Walsham's final game is away at Brentwood on Saturday with the Vikings looking to avoid finishing the season with a five-match losing run.
Chalk Hill Brewery men of the match were Dewing and Matt Oakes.
A youthful Raiders side won a friendly at Watton 69-10. Tries came from Jon Younie (3) Laurence Griggs (2), Henry Hunt (2) Guy Salzedo,Jack Frazer,Alex Hammond and Greg Kirkham who added seven conversions.