North Walsham Raiders looking good for second place

Ben O'Hickey puts North Walsham on the front foot. Picture: Hywel Jones

Ben O'Hickey puts North Walsham on the front foot. Picture: Hywel Jones - Credit: Archant

North Walsham Raiders secured a hard fought win against a strong Diss Saracens side on Saturday which consolidated their place in Greene King EC1 North behind runaway leaders Fakenham.

As the season has progressed so the squad has gelled into a very tight unit all playing for one another and this was really the difference between the two sides, the Raiders having the better structure to their game.

With just a couple of changes from the side that won pre Christmas they quickly settled into a pattern.

After Diss had missed with a penalty the restart kick was fumbled and wing Will Machin chased up, kicked ahead and won the race to the touchdown for an unconverted try.

Possession and territory was evenly shared but Diss were being penalised for a variety of offences and scrum-half Lee Thomson added points with one success from two attempts.

A long kick downfield, a line out and ruck set Diss up for an unconverted try to narrow the gap. The Raiders lost both Minchin and Thomson with injuries but right on the stroke of half-time centre Ted Morgan slotted a penalty to stretch the lead back to six points.

The third quarter was scoreless but the Raiders had to put their defensive drills into practice and repelled every threat, holding Diss up over the line three times.

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The deadlock was broken when hooker Aaron Beaumont made a big tackle and the ball was spilled, replacement wing Michael Mulhall picking up and sprinting half the length of the pitch to score. A poor clearance kick was then seized upon by Diss, moved wide and their pacy left winger was in for a converted try.

The Raiders controlled the game for the final five minutes and were justifiably ecstatic as the referee signalled the end.

The victory left them four points ahead of Diss going into their final fixture of the regular season at Norwich Medics on Saturday.

That means they need a win to guarantee finishing in second place, although with Diss rounding off their season against Fakenham on Saturday they might already have done enough.

Fakenham - who still have three matches to play after a couple of postponements in the lead-up to Christmas - clinched the title in emphatic fashion on Saturday with a 60-0 win over Beccles,