North Walsham take on Thurrock in clash of fourth versus sixth
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham welcome Thurrock to Scottow on Saturday in their penultimate London One North home fixture of the season.
Whatever the result the Vikings will almost certainly finish in fourth place, where they now sit, and Thurrock will stay put in sixth as they are 14 points behind Eton Manor, so there is just pride to play for.
Nonetheless this should be a good match-up between the sides but the formbook does little to give clues to the outcome. Back in December Thurrock came out winners 25-15 a week after the Vikings had beaten Letchworth 54-12.
Thereafter they a had a poor run but they got their act together by beating Old Priorians 52-24 and last week thrashed Saffron Walden 69-7.
Looking back to that December result there might have been a hint of complacency but coach James Brooks has instilled a much stronger mindset in the squad.
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Last week he made some interesting changes, benching three players who had been unable to make training because of work commitments. It would seem from the result at Letchworth that the decision had little effect on the performance of the squad but it is likely that he will ring the changes again in regard to the starting line-up.
Centre Mike Hendry is set to make his final appearance before heading back to Australia. He made his debut against Chelmsford in late September, scoring a hat-trick of tries and in a total of 16 appearances his tally stands at 14, an excellent strike rate. Up front the front row looks settled but If he has been able to train skipper Ryan Oakes will probably move into the second row, with Ed Sampson dropping back to the flank.
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The participation of outside half Matt Hodges will depend on the severity of the injury that restricted his involvement last week. If he fails to make it then Mike Braans will be favourite to take over. Any reshuffle could see the return to the centre of James Knight to pair up with Hendry.
Holt, whose relegation from London Two North East was confirmed by a 50-20 home defeat against Cantabrigian, visit Woodford on Saturday in their final away match.