North Walsham round off fine league campaign with 49-0 away win

Saturday’s final league game pitted third from top against third from bottom but intriguingly both sides had identical recent records, four wins from the last five.

With Fullerians needing a bonus point win to have any hope of avoiding relegation a close contest was anticipated but this game was far from close, with the Vikings exhibiting a precision in attack and defence their opponents could not match.

The Vikings went ahead after just two minutes, James Knight gathering a kick on the 22 and eluding four tacklers in a 40 metre run before making a deft kick which Jim Riley gathered to score.

It was already apparent the Vikings were superior with ball in hand and on 15 minutes it became 12-0. From quick clean lineout ball 20 metres out, Lachlan Brown-Bates’ run severely dented the defence and quick hands took the ball to Riley who burst through to score, Matt Hodgson converting.

By now the Vikings were at parity in the scrums and with Dan Bird, Roydon Miller and Ryan Oakes expertly gathering Tom Browes’ accurate lineout throws they had plenty of possession. Over elaboration lost them some opportunities, but 10 minutes from the break they extended their lead. A long kick by Hodgson turned the defenders, a good chase with Andre Dunn in the vanguard led to a five metre scrum and Miller came off the back before off loading to Knight who scored to make it 17-0 at half-time.

Fullerians tried hard at the start of the second half to get back into the game but soon the Walsham forwards were controlling the set pieces again. Five minutes in Hodgson kicked a penalty before three tries in six minutes, one converted, took the score to 37-0 with 25 minutes left.

First a trademark 40 metre run by Brown-Bates took play into the 22 and Knight galloped over. Next Hodgson sold three audacious dummies to score and finally Fullerians tried to clear their lines with a long kick only for Riley to catch it on his 22 and race away for his third. This took him to a club record 27 tries for the season, eclipsing Andy Thorpe’s 22.

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After Riley had nearly grabbed a fourth, two tries for Will Swart, by now on the wing, completed the scoring. The first epitomised the Vikings’ attitude; for once Fullerians broke through on halfway and a try looked likely but back they swarmed for Hodgson to send Swart away on his 22. This result summed up a memorable season. Fullerians, beaten only 10-5 last week at Colchester, had realistic hopes of winning but the Vikings, secure in third, were having none of it.

Jake Duffield was named as Coltishall Red Lion man of the match.