Vikings let big lead slip
Few of the spectators at Scottow on Saturday will be able to recall a game like North Walsham's one against visitors Clifton.The Vikings headed for the dressing room at half time with three tries in the bag and a lead of fourteen points and every prospect of a fourth try and a five point win.
Few of the spectators at Scottow on Saturday will be able to recall a game like North Walsham's one against visitors Clifton.
The Vikings headed for the dressing room at half time with three tries in the bag and a lead of fourteen points and every prospect of a fourth try and a five point win.
Forty minutes after they re-emerged those hopes were just memories.
Clifton had upped their game and scored three unanswered tries and a penalty while Walsham quite simply imploded.
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They forgot everything that had brought them that first half lead, looked but a shadow of their earlier selves and were grateful for the single losing bonus point and relieved by the news that both Barking and Havant had similar results.
The usual crop of changes from the previous week saw Nathan McGrath make his first start at hooker with Gideon Rossouw on the bench, while the return of Andy Thorpe at full back saw Tom Holt drop to the bench and Adam Gowen return after injury.
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Prop Joe le Roux picked up a hip injury in the tenth minute and was replaced by Shaun Woodhouse.
Having weathered some early pressure Walsham's first real attack brought reward.
A free kick in midfield was taken up to the 22 by Jason Applin, forwards and backs combined before Mike Howard burst up to a metre from the line, the ball was popped into the hands of fast moving Rob Clymer for the touchdown, Strydom's kick drifting just wide.
John Barnes narrowed the gap when Chris Godwin was penalised and yellow carded for a professional foul.
Walsham lost Gowen with a badly cut ear which needed nine stitches, Holt coming on as a straight replacement.
Walsham were containing Clifton with some strong tackling and good ball retention and happy to hit them on the break. Clifton won turnover ball on halfway but a huge hit on their outside centre forced him to shed the ball. Strydom seized it and scooted home, unfortunately hooking the conversion wide.
Soon after Dermody made a break from a scrum, Will Farrer broke the defensive line popping the ball to Clymer for his second score, this time between the posts giving Strydom an easy conversion.
Clifton staged a big effort in the final ten minutes of the half and came close a couple of times but the defence held firm.
Clifton regained the restart ball and laid down their marker, keeping possession for fully three minutes, passing up one chance when an overlap was ignored. But they kept moving the ball through hands until left wing Andy Bell scored wide out.
Walsham lost Jason Applin to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle and he now faces a one match ban under the totting up rule.
Walsham appeared to have no answer to Clifton's sense of urgency, the big hits of the first half were now more tentative and the Clifton ball carriers were bouncing off the tackles. Meanwhile the Vikings, having retained the ball well in the first half, were now doing just the opposite.
A break from midfield caught the Walsham defence on the hop and although there were a couple of good tackles, the offloads were better and Bell celebrated his second score and the gap was down to one.
Rossouw replaced McGrath who had made an impressive debut and Reilly came on for Davies but still it was Clifton in the driving seat.
Replacement Sam Kent came close to breaking through but was bundled into touch five metres out, but relief was short lived.
At the ensuing lineout the ball was overthrown straight into the hands of number 8 John Levis who had an easy stroll in.
Walsham slightly improved their ball retention in the final fifteen minutes but still failed to play to the conditions and at no time did they look like denying the visitors the points.
Final score: North Walsham 17, Clifton 21.
Next week, Vikings are away to Canterbury Kick off 3pm.