North Walsham lift Norfolk Cup
North Walsham 20, Diss 18
What should have been a showpiece end to the rugby season was unfortunately anything but.
With both sides having had a torrid season the Woodforde's Norfolk Cup final was probably a game too many for all concerned, writes Tony Marcantonio.
As a result the hardcore supporters from both clubs had to endure 80 minutes of poor-quality rugby with too many stoppages and yellow cards for there to be much in the way of excitement. The closeness of the final score probably reflected the play.
As in most of their recent encounters Diss spent much of the first half-hour camped in or close to the Walsham 22 and could well have taken the lead. But Matt Briggs pushed a sixth minute penalty wide and then, when Walsham's Gerald Hegarty was yellow carded, he hit the far post, the ball rebounding into Walsham hands.
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Diss No 8 Steve Hipwell, a thorn in Walsham's side all afternoon and arguably the man of the match, made the first of several line-breaking runs, supported by Chris Beaird, but this support was a rarity and all too often he was left isolated.
Diss scrum-half Will Hemmant was carded for not allowing a penalty to be taken and, having weathered the storm, Walsham began to move into Diss territory.
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Almost on the half hour the deadlock was broken. Full-back Barry Frost broke through the defence and was hauled down a metre from the line. Walsham fluffed a couple of chances before the ball was shipped across field via Adie Ball and Jake Harris for wing Henry Dewing to score.
Then, deep in stoppage time, Chris Godwin latched onto a pass from Chris Kent to score between the posts, Harris converting for a 12-0 half-time lead.
Diss were quickest out of the blocks for the second half and 10 minutes of effort brought a reward when Briggs dived over on the left, his conversion attempt being short and wide.
Walsham hit back after John Llewelyn was carded for blocking a penalty too soon, with Harris kicking the three points. But Briggs soon brought the lead back to seven with a penalty in front of the posts.
Walsham lost replacement Will Crossley to the sin bin but at the resulting line-out the impressive Tom Coller won the ball on the Diss throw and the ball went swiftly from wing to wing for Alex Graf-Grote to cut through the defence and score.
Diss again upped the pace and Walsham were reduced to 13 when Rhys Davies-Horne was sin binned for coming offside at a ruck. Almost immediately the Diss pack drove over for another unconverted try.
It was backs to the wall time for Walsham as Tim Groom crossed the line but the referee, well placed, decided he had been held up, and at the resulting five-metre scrum Hipwell took advantage of a stretched defence to pick up and drive over.
The kick was wide and the final whistle ensured that the Woodforde's Norfolk Cup will remain at Scottow.