North Walsham welcome strugglers South Woodham Ferrers to Scottow

North Walsham's Tom Younie moves in to block an attempted clearance during Saturday's defeat at Amer

North Walsham's Tom Younie moves in to block an attempted clearance during Saturday's defeat at Amersham. Picture: Hywel Jones - Credit: Archant

A tough start to the new year has set North Walsham back down to seventh place in London One North in what is one of the tightest competitions for several seasons.

Four games, three against top half sides, have resulted in a win, two defeats and a draw but this Saturday presents a real opportunity to get back on track when Essex side South Woodham Ferrers make their first visit to Scottow.

Having been promoted at the end of the 2016-17 season they have struggled almost from the outset of the current campaign. Their record shows just two wins, both at home and both back in September.

In the away fixture the Vikings came out 43-5 winners but they must know that any complacency can be quickly punished.

Coach James Brooks was not unhappy with the performance or commitment last week but will probably be looking for a bit more composure from his side.

The departure of Hal Riley to Stourbridge coupled with an injury to James Knight meant that Will Hodgson had to move from back row to inside centre, which is a position he has filled many times in the past but is not his natural slot.

He could be able to return to the pack this week if James Knight has recovered from his broken wrist. But if Knight is not fit then Harry Downing should be back to either go into the centre or to outside half, allowing Mike Braans to move into the centre.

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If Hodgson has to stay in the back line the pack could remain unchanged although Tom Browes will be back to take over in the front row if the need arises.

The Raiders, who have had two weeks off, are back in action at Scottow to face fresh opposition in Shelford III in the Greene King Eastern Counties One Shield, which comprises the top two sides from the EC1 North, South and West Divisions to determine who goes up at the end of the season. Only first XVs can be promoted to a higher level so the Raiders' efforts will be to finish as high up as possible.

The Warriors, who were again understrength when losing to Beccles II, will be hoping they can take a full side to Crusaders II.

Holt are at home to Wisbech in London Three Eastern Counties. They will be looking for a fourth straight win, with a walk-over in their previous home fixture against Newmarket thrown into the mix.