High-flying North Walsham preparing for two big tests
PUBLISHED: 07:40 18 October 2019
London One North pacesetters North Walsham are preparing for two crunch games in the space of eight days.
With six straight wins behind them they take on third placed Eton Manor at Scottow on Saturday before travelling to closest rivals Colchester the following weekend.
By all accounts the Vikings' performance against Old Priorians last week was a below par one, particularly in the second half with the bonus point in the bag and the weather deteriorating, but they still picked up a 28-7 win.
Even at this early stage Manor, Colchester, the Vikings and possibly Old Haberdashers look to be the main contenders for honours this season.
Still unbeaten, the one slight blemish on Eton Manor's record is a 19-19 draw at Amersham & Chiltern. The past two weekends have seen them have easy wins against the bottom two sides, racking up 33 points against Woodford and 86 against Ruislip, both without reply. Past history shows that over the years honours have been pretty evenly shared but last season the Vikings won both meetings.
It seems that there was only one injury last Saturday, prop Dane Canning taking a knock late on. His place in the starting line-up will be taken by Frank Scott who showed no signs of any problems in two stints last week following his lay-off with an ankle injury sustained in the pre-season game with Hertford.
Joe Milligan was taken off after an hour but that might have been to freshen up the back line. Prop George Youngs is still away but Ethan Sikorski should be free of work commitments and the front row replacement is likely to be Neumi Rokodinono.
North Walsham (from): F Scott, T Knight, T Browes, N Rokodinono, R Oakes, D Bird, W Swart, D Dejongh, E Sikorski, E Sampson, J Duffield, M Hodgson, J Riley, C Anthony, J Milligan, D Smith, J Knight, J Younie, J Mustard.
After a week off, unbeaten leaders Norwich are back in action at Diss, who sit one place below them in the table.
Norwich go into the fixture with several players out through injury or holiday, as it is half-term week, so the strength of the squad will be tested.
On a positive note the visitors can call on new recruit Ben Walker, who had an impressive game for the Lions at prop last week, while they also welcome back Jonathan (JJ) Raven after four years away.
"We will have to be at our best in front of a large Diss crowd and our discipline and patience will be tested to the full," said director of rugby David Everitt. "It should be an interesting game as both sides have scored plenty of tries this season but it could be best defence that wins the game."
Having been relegated last season, Diss have made a good start to the campaign under new coach Nick Greenhall, winning the first three games before losing last time out at Wymondham.
Two other sides with three wins out of four - Southwold and Wymondham - meet at The Common while Holt continue their search for a first win of the season at South Woodham Ferrers, who are just one place above them in ninth position.
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With leaders West Norfolk having a day off Cantabrigian will take over at the top if they make home advantage count against Crusaders.
The winners of the match between unbeaten Ely and Fakenham, who have won three out of four, are likely to move up to second.
In other matches Beccles will be looking to bounce back from two heavy home defeats at home to Ipswich YM while Thetford travel to Woodbridge.
North Walsham Raiders, who produced a solid performance to beat Norwich Lions 44-10 in the Norfolk Junior Cup last Saturday, host unbeaten Diss Saracens in EC1N.
There are bound to be changes but the core of the side will remain and there could be a place for a couple of players returning to the club after a short break.
Elsewhere joint leaders Norwich Union are at Norwich II while Wymondham II host Watton and Norwich Medics play host to Holt II.
Lakenham Lionesses produced an excellent display to secure an overdue away victory and a bonus point one at that.
They won 41-7 at Romford Ravens, with Laura Fearnley scoring her first two tries for the team, Dani Pluckrose notching a hat-trick and Lauren Halliwell also touching down twice.
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