North Walsham RFC aiming to clinch promotion after cup setback

With their dream of a trip to Twickenham over it's back to league action for North Walsham on Saturday as they head for pastures new on the wide open spaces of Hackney Marshes to play Old Streetonians.

The London side have had a difficult season with just four wins from their 19 games, and have on occasions struggled to travel with a full squad.But although they are in the drop zone they still have a mathematical chance of avoiding relegation and must not be considered an easy touch so Nick Greenhall will ensure there is no lessening of effort. In contrast the Vikings need just two points from the 20 still to play for to secure their swift return to London One North.

Greenhall will as usual try to keep players involved which might entail a few changes after last week's tough game, resting a couple or asking some to have a game with the Raiders to pass on their experience to some youngsters. There are options to make changes up front with Danny Berghan, Matt Oakes, Dan Goodrich and Gerald Hegarty candidates for a place in the squad.

Behind the pack Alex Graf-Grote and Dean Blyth could be in line for a recall to the starting line-up while a couple of the successful Raiders side, Jon Younie and Chad Seeley, might also figure in Greenhall's thinking.

The Raiders will be at Scottow taking on Lakenham Hewett and hoping to give a run to several of the 17-year- olds who are making the transition from junior to senior rugby.


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North Walsham 18 Brighton Blues 28

North Walsham suffered a rare defeat on a chilly, blustery day as Brighton came out on top in the London and SE final of the Intermediate Cup.

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It was much to Vikings' credit that they went into over-time searching for the try that would have brought the win. But in the end it was the visitors who scored at the death to erase any dreams Walsham had of a trip to Twickenham.

On heavy ground it was Brighton who started better and after a period of controlled rucking hooker Adam Salvage scored. Alex Finch's conversion was missed – all kicks were difficult in the conditions.

Walsham had their first possession in the Brighton half after the restart but on 12 minutes the Blues broke from their own 22, set their winger Steve Dean off inside Walsham's half and he scored in the corner. The conversion was missed again.

The Vikings began to get a foothold in the match and territory paid off on 24 minutes when Henry Dewing kicked the first of two penalties. Then No 8 Tom Williams was yellow carded and Brighton immediately took advantage with a try from Vailalo – this time the conversion was charged down by Will Hodgson. Deep into added time the Blues had their captain Smith yellow-carded, with Dewing scoring the penalty to make it 6-15 at the interval.

It looked as though Brighton would score first in the second half but Finch missed a penalty in front of the posts. The Vikings then made a breakaway and after a series of rucks Shane van Vuuren touched down, James Knight converting in the absence of Dewing. At 13-15 it was very much game on.

Walsham were battling hard but with the wind behind them Brighton were able to relieve pressure by kicking long and regaining territory the hosts had worked so hard to win. Finch finally started scoring, with two penalties on 56 and 65 minutes.

With only three minutes to go agood break, followed by good re-use of the ball in the face of solid defence, saw Lee Sandberg score in the corner. Knight missed the tough conversion.

The score was 18-21 with only injury-time to play but Brighton kept the ball in the Walsham half, and after a penalty kicked to touch right in the corner man-of-the-match Vailalo's second try, which Finch converted, settled the issue.

Brighton's fantastic start gave them a platform to build this impressive performance. Walsham worked hard to disrupt the Blues' control, and they probably matched them in territory and possession, but the Blues' defence rarely weakened and in truth a ten point win flattered the Vikings. The Vikings suffered a rare defeat on a chilly, blustery day at Scottow on Saturday. It was very much to Vikings' credit that they went into overtime searching for the try that would have brought the win, but in the end it was Brighton Blues who scored at the death thus erasing any dreams they had of a trip to Twickenham.

On heavy ground, the Vikings kicked off with the wind in this London and South-East Final in the RFU's Intermediate Cup, but it was Brighton who started the better and after a sustained period of controlled rucking their hooker Adam Salvage scored. Alex Finch's conversion was missed – all kicks were difficult in today's conditions.

North Walsham had their first possession in the Brighton half after the restart, but on twelve minutes the Blues broke from their own 22, set their winger Steve Dean off inside Walsham's half and he scored in the corner. The conversion was missed again; in fact the missed conversions were the only errors that Brighton had made up to this point.

The Vikings began to get a foothold in the match, and territory paid off on 24 minutes when Dewing kicked the first of two penalties. Approaching half-time, deep in Walsham's 22, No8 Tom Williams was yellow carded, and Brighton immediately took advantage with a try from Vailalo – this time the conversion was charged down by Hodgson. Deep into added time the Blues had their captain Smith yellow-carded, with Dewing scoring the resulting penalty. Half-time score: 6-15.

The Vikings now had the wind against them as well as the committed Blues, and it looked as though Brighton would score first again, until Finch continued his run of bad luck with a missed penalty in front of the posts. In fact, it was the Vikings who surprised their visitors with a breakaway, and after a series of rucks on the opposition touchline, van Vuuren touched down; Knight converting in the absence of Dewing. At 13-15 it was very much 'game on'.

Walsham were battling hard, but with the wind behind them Brighton were able to relieve pressure by kicking long and regaining territory that the hosts had worked so hard to win. Finch finally started scoring, with two penalties on 56 and 65 minutes.

Brighton looked very strong in defence, and Walsham continued to make more errors than their visitors, often by taking the more ambitious option in conditions that favoured controlled possession, but with only three minutes to go another good break, followed by good re-use of the ball in the face of solid defence, saw Sandberg score in the corner. Knight missing the very hard conversion.

18-21 with only injury time to play! If only Walsham could regain possession … but Brighton kept the ball in the Walsham half, and after a penalty kicked to touch right in the corner the Brighton pack scored their third and man-of-the-match Vailalo's second try, which Finch converted.

Brighton's fantastic start gave them a platform to build this impressive performance. Walsham worked very hard to disrupt the Blues' control, and they probably matched the Blues in territory and possession, but the Blues' defence rarely weakened and in truth a ten point win flattered the Vikings. Brighton Blues go on to play St Austell RFC in the Southern final, and on this performance they should have every confidence of progressing to the final. The Vikings meanwhile visit Old Streetonians on Saturday, hoping to wrap up the promotion that this fine season deserves.

Vikings: 1 Stuart Loose, 2 Mark McCall, 3 Ben Campbell, 4 Leon Davies , 5 Chris Kent, 6 Tom Coller, 7 Chris Godwin, 8 Tom Williams (c) (Pena Sokia); 9 Lee Sandberg, 10 Jack Hoyles; 11 Adie Ball, 12 James Knight (Alex Graf-Grote), 13 Will Hodgson, 14 Shane van Vuuren, 15 Henry Dewing (A.Tibbatts)

Replacement not used. K.Fowles

North Walsham 18 – tries: van Vuuren and Sandberg; penalties: Dewing (2); conversion: Knights

Brighton 28 – tries: Salvage, Dean, Vailalo (2); penalties: Finch (2); conversion: Finch

North Walsham Vikings v Old Streetonians (Away)

London 2 North East Kick off 3pm

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