North Walsham poised for opening pre-season fixture

Johnny Marsters had an excellent first season as North Walsham's director of rugby Picture: CLUB

Johnny Marsters had an excellent first season as North Walsham's director of rugby Picture: CLUB - Credit: Archant

North Walsham Vikings step up their preparations for the 2019-20 season on Saturday when Crowborough visit Norfolk for the first of two pre-season friendlies at Scottow Park.

The ambitious East Sussex side won promotion last season into London Two South East, a tier seven league, one below the Vikings in London One North. This will be the first ever fixture between the two clubs.

On the following Saturday, August 24, Hertford, whom the Vikings have played many times over the years, will provide the opposition. In 2018-19 they finished a very respectable fifth in London & SE Premier, the league above the Vikings.

Both matches will kick off at 3pm and spectators are welcome.

The format of the games has yet to be confirmed but it is likely they will be played in four quarters with the coaches interchanging their players frequently. Every North Walsham player who is available will get the chance to play at some stage.

"These games are the next phase of our build-up to the league season, though it will be important not to read too much into the results," said head of rugby Jonny Marsters.

"I'm very happy with how pre-season has gone so far but you can only do so much in training. Matches give the opportunity to try out different combinations and moves and, as a coach, help you see how individuals react in different game situations."

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Masters' squads for the two matches will include a number of newcomers - "a great chance for them to showcase their talents," he said.

The Walsham chief has been pleased with the numbers attending — between 30 and 40 — the Tuesday and Thursday training nights, with a good mix of senior and younger players. A new experience for the squad was a training session run by the Army.

The Vikings' league season begins with away matches at Woodford on September 7 and Shelford on September 14, both newcomers to this division, the former having been promoted, the latter relegated.

Chingford visit Scottow on September 21 for the only home match in September. On September 28 the Vikings are away to Old Haberdashers.

Holt open their Division 2NE campaign on September 14 with a short trip to Norwich. Before that they host Crusaders in a friendly on August 24 and travel to West Norfolk on September 7 to compete for the Cubitt Maule Cup.