North Walsham should be raring to go after much needed break
PUBLISHED: 09:31 22 March 2019
A weekend off should have done wonders for North Walsham who struggled to get a toe-hold in their previous game at Old Haberdashers, with players carrying injuries and in one case a chest infection.
The break ends on Saturday with the visit to Scottow of Amersham & Chiltern (3pm) who with a 12 from 22 win record sit sixth in the table, three places and 30 points behind the Vikings.
Meetings between the clubs have been restricted to just five, with Amersham having won three and drawn one, with the meeting back in November resulting in the Vikings’ sole victory.
So far as selection is concerned head of rugby Johnny Marsters would appear to have no injury problems. Lock Matt Travers has returned home but Ryan Oakes, who took a knock to the head against Rochford, has served the statutory break and is primed to return.
There is some doubt as to the availability of prop Neumi Rokodinono, with work commitments taking out of the area. The back line is likely to show a couple of changes, with scrum-half Jake Duffield fit again and a rested James Knight starting at full-back.
With promotion and a play-off place out of reach Marsters could give a run off the bench to a couple of members of the Raiders’ squad.
North Walsham (from): L Brown-Bates, W Swart, T Browes, G Youngs, D Bird, R Oakes, C Godwin, J Duffield, M Hodgson, D Smith, J Knight, A Dunn, J Riley, J Milligan, J Cherry, M Braans, R Miller, D Canning.
Diss welcome mid-table Old Priorians to Mackenders as their search for a second win of the season continues. With three of their final four games at home Diss will at least be hoping to move off the bottom of the table between now and April 13, with Luton only five points above them.
Norwich play their penultimate home game of the season on Saturday against Wanstead, who are one place and one point below them in sixth.
The game earlier in the season was lost 12-10 with the last kick of the game which Norwich failed to land. It was a game of huge frustration and one that the players will be looking to put behind them.
Norwich are able to select from nearly a full squad, with only Laurence Austin and Mike Lawton unavailable.
“Last time out at Saffron Walden we gave away a substantial lead to lose in the last 20 minutes,” said director of rugby Dave Everitt. “It has been a recurring feature of our season and something we need to sort out if we are to win our last three games.
“The game at Wanstead was a case in point when we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory having performed well below our potential and squandered scoring opportunities. On Saturday we have home advantage and the players have to manage the game better and put in a performance that our supporters can be proud of.”
Southwold, who are all but safe from relegation after their 20-5 win at Harlow two weeks ago, will be looking to make absolutely sure when they travel to Cantabrigian.
The exciting three-way battle for the title resumes, with Wymondham, Holt and Ely all in action.
Wymondham lead the way by three points but it is Holt who have the marginal advantage, having played one less game.
Wymondham travel to bottom of the table Ipswich YM on Saturday while Holt play host to near neighbours Fakenham who have had a solid season since gaining promotion last season and beat their rivals 23-19 back in December.
Having played some excellent rugby of late, it is likely Wymondham’s starting line-up will be unchanged from the game against Woodbridge two weeks ago.
With skipper Si Darby leading from the front, nothing less than a bonus point win will do for the visitors, who will be looking to play to their strengths and reduce the penalty count.
Outsiders Ely, who like Wymondham only have one game left after this weekend, travel to Woodbridge hoping for a favour from elsewhere.
Fourth placed West Norfolk have a home derby against Wisbech while Crusaders welcome Thetford to Little Melton.
Beccles will be aiming to take another steps towards promotion from the Shield when they host a Cottenham Renegades side who held them to a 31-31 draw two weeks ago.
Beccles will be hoping for a favour from Norwich Union who visit Hadleigh, just four points behind them in second.
In the Plate leaders North Walsham Raiders have a swift return game against Shelford III who they to lost by three points in their previous league fixture. The side could be strengthened by the return of Vilikesa Vurewa, Dan Goodrich, Ben O’Hickey and Rob King.
Norfolk’s Will Evans will be leaving Leicester Tigers at the end of the season to join Harlequins.
The 22-year-old Norwich-born flanker earned international recognition at four age-group levels as he progressed through the Tigers academy and has been a member of the first team squad since making his debut in April 2016.
Evans, a former Wymondham College pupil, said: “There is a great buzz around Harlequins at the moment and I know they are an incredibly ambitious club. I know Gussy (Paul Gustard) and his team are hungry for trophies and I look forward to being part of that group, learning from them to improve my own game and helping the squad achieve its ambitions.”
Meanwhile fellow Norfolk youngster Jack van Poortvliet, who is still studying at Norwich School, had a debut to remember for England’s Under-18 side. He scored the opening try as England beat Scotland 36-21 at Billingham. Van Poortvliet should feature again on Sunday when England take on France at Cheshunt.