North Walsham Rugby Club going up as champions
North Walsham secured the London 2NE title in impressive fashion on Saturday when they recorded a 55-12 victory at Lowestoft and Yarmouth.
But the fact that they have confirmed an immediate return to London 1N will in no way affect the way the Vikings approach the visit of neighbours Holt on Saturday (3pm) in a mouth-watering final home game of the season.
Local rivalry in rugby is a big factor both on and off the pitch and a competitive and convivial afternoon is in prospect. This is the first season that the two clubs have found themselves in the same league and for both it has been resounding success.
For Walsham because they have bounced straight back following relegation and Holt because they have established themselves firmly in the higher regions in what looks likely to be a top four finish. The highlight of their season must be the home win over then leaders Ipswich, a result that greatly assisted Walsham's progress.
Because the clubs are so closely situated and because both have a big agricultural following each knows much about the other's on and off field activities. On Saturday though all the focus will be on the Scottow pitch.
Walsham coach Nick Greenhall will tell his players to put last week firmly behind them and stress that the season still has three games to run and 15 points are on offer. Selection should not present too many problems providing that players came through unscathed. Mark McCall should return to contest the hooker role although there are genuine contenders in the shape of Matt Oakes and Dan Goodrich. Leon Davies had work commitments last week and should return to the second row, allowing Tom Coller to revert to flanker. Chris Godwin is still on holiday so the open side is up for grabs, with Pena Sokia probably favourite to take the shirt.
Behind the pack the scrum half position is another to speculate on with the availability of Lee Sandberg and fitness of Alex Graf-Grote both factors. It is difficult to see any more changes in the backs as all performed well last week.
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The Raiders, who sealed their Woodforde's Merit Table title last week, have a rare day at home with the Vikings when they also face Holt opposition (2.15pm).
Walsham secured promotion as champions following an eight tries to two victory at Gunton Park. Although three league games remain this season, the Vikings were able to celebrated their first promotion in more than two decades.
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L&Y got the game underway, with the stiff cross wind slightly in their favour. In what proved to be an error strewn first half, both sides produced two tries, but there could, and should have been several more.
Walsham centre Will Hodgson made an early break through the middle, but didn't see Chad Seeley supporting him on the outside, but two minutes later Jack Hoyles put Tom Williams away for a try under the posts, converted by Henry Dewing.
L & Y centre Miles McAlone responded with a run up the left for a try which went unconverted. James Knight then bustled over for a Walsham touchdown, Dewing adding the extras, before a Tiveta Tiueti penalty for the home team came back off the right upright.
The Vikings were tending to lose the ball in contact, and gave away numerous penalties for entering the breakdown illegally, but did keep the nudge in the tight.
When Shane van Vuuren couldn't control an awkward bounce, home hooker Stephen Powles gathered, to cross the line for Tiueti to convert. L & Y flanker Joshua Fenkes then went to the sin bin, and Dewing slotted the ensuing penalty, to leave the half time tally at 12-17 in favour of the visitors.
After the break, the momentum settled firmly in Walsham's favour, with Viking Number 8 Williams having an outstanding game, putting in tackles galore, and with quick hands at the back of the scrum giving his half backs an edge.
The ball was recycled through several phases before Knight went over for his second, followed minutes later by Tom Coller for his first and his team's bonus point fourth try, the latter converted by Dewing.
Hoyles then side stepped past most of the opposition for his try under the crossbar, Dewing again adding the extras, before Coller scooped up a loose ball to bag a second touchdown, converted superbly from the left touchline by Dewing.
A trademark Chris Kent dash up the left wing led to the next score, but Dewing was wide with his kick. Wiliams then broke up field, the ball coming to Pena Sokia, who crossed the line, giving a selfless pass to Dean Blyth who grounded the ball between the uprights, Dewing converting.