North Walsham start new rugby season with a battling victory
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham 28 Brentwood 22
Having kicked off last season's London One North campaign with a 74-0 away defeat, North Walsham made a winning start this time around as they edged past Brentwood in a dramatic finale at Scottow.
The opener saw the Vikings take to the field with a much changed line-up, including Dan Goodrich at scrum-half.
The conditions were perfect for running rugby, but the Vikings pack were going to have to work hard to win enough ball for that to happen.
Tom Simpson opened the scoring for the visitors early on from an offside penalty before the home forwards' excellent defence created the first real opportunity in the seventh minute. The ball travelled fast across the pitch and Rhys Davies-Horne broke through to score, with Goodrich missing the conversion.
The Vikings extended the lead with a Goodrich penalty after Brentwood went offside in a ruck but then a turnover in a ruck allowed Brentwood to break away, with winger Chris Suker scoring a try which went unconverted. The rest of the first half belonged to the visitors who stretched their lead with a try through James Metcalf, converted by Simpson, to make it 8-15 at the break.
The Vikings made three changes for the second half, a blow to the head for Goodrich and a leg injury for Ian Webster ending their afternoons.
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Davies-Horne continued his excellent match with three points on 47 minutes but at that stage the match looked firmly in the visitors' control.
Yellow cards, penalties, scuffles and plenty of lectures delivered to both captains suited Brentwood well, and they extended their lead on 67 minutes with another well-deserved forwards' try – through Tom King – converted by Simpson.
With only 10 minutes left the Vikings' backs finally started to break free. James Knight very nearly finished off an end-to-end run, and then his fine kick set up a scrum in the clubhouse corner. This led to a line-out well taken by Tom Coller and the pack mauled over the line, Aki Downing scoring and Davies-Horne converting from a tight angle to make it 18-22.
With only two minutes on the clock another lovely passing move saw Shane van Vuuren catch a majestic pass and cross the line, converted again by Davies-Horne to put Walsham 25-22 ahead. Davies-Horne completed the scoring with his fourth success from four deep into added time with a penalty from 10 metres out.
For a long period in the middle of this match it looked like the Brentwood pack had given their side the platform for a solid victory but with their energy fading, and indiscipline growing, Knight's surging runs gave Walsham the impetus to turn this game around.
Walsham will be hoping that this is the beginning of a new 'Fortress Scottow' season, having been unbeaten at home last season until the final game.
Chalk Hill Brewery man of the match: James Knight.