Vikings fear relegation
North Walsham 3, B Stortford 30Saturday's dismal display leaves a second successive relegation a possibility for Walsham. Losing 20-0 at the break, they improved in the second half but it is hard to find positives from a lacklustre and often indisciplined performance by what seemed to be a collection of individuals rather than a team.
North Walsham 3, B Stortford 30
Saturday's dismal display leaves a second successive relegation a possibility for Walsham. Losing 20-0 at the break, they improved in the second half but it is hard to find positives from a lacklustre and often indisciplined performance by what seemed to be a collection of individuals rather than a team.
The result means this weekend's visit to fellow strugglers Portsmouth, who have two games in hand, is a classic 'four pointer' in the battle to avoid relegation.
Bishop's Stortford are only mid table but their basic skills were higher and they had a simple game plan. They went ahead with a try from Ed Merivale, converted by Tom Coleman, after three minutes.
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In a passage of play indicative of what was to come, the Vikings lost two lineouts on their own throw ins and failed to make their first up tackles, whilst Stortford moved the ball purposefully.
Walsham struggled to get into the game and it was no surprise when the dependable Coleman added a penalty in the 15th minute. Stortford dominated as the penalty count against the home side mounted and their lineout difficulties continued. Lacking their usual second row of Iain Beck and Josh Reeves, the Vikings lost significantly more of their own lineouts than they won.
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On the half hour Stortford took advantage of some slack play to go further ahead. Coleman's kick was unsuccessful but the resulting drop out was gathered in space without challenge, secure hands moved the ball quickly and Arran Mahoney sold a dummy to go over untouched; Coleman added the conversion.
At last the Vikings went forward. Lee Sandberg and Adie Ball, who along with Chris Godwin showed up well in a poor team performance, took play close to the line and forced a weak kick from the defender. But poor ball handling meant they could not take advantage.
Indiscipline then kicked in. The Vikings were awarded a penalty in an attacking position and a Stortford player shown a yellow card only for Stuart Loose to suffer the same fate for stamping and the penalty be reversed.
Moments later Tom Holt went to the sin bin, so it became an uphill battle to prevent Stortford from scoring again. That goal was not achieved as Coleman kicked a penalty on the stroke of half time.
The general consensus among supporters was that the first half performance was the ' worst of the season. The home side made two changes at the break. Damien Reilly came into the second row and Adam Couzens onto the wing; Peter Clifford moved to fly-half and Iain Young to full-back.
But any hopes of a revival were extinguished within six minutes. An early attack culminated in a penalty from Clifford, but this was wiped out with interest by Mahoney's second converted try.
As the conditions worsened ball handling became more difficult and, with the Vikings chasing the game, the number of turnovers increased. With the game almost over Coleman added another penalty.