Vikings on the up
North Walsham 12, Old Albanians 6The green shoots continue to flourish at Scottow as North Walsham racked up a third successive win for the first time in over three years.
North Walsham 12, Old Albanians 6
The green shoots continue to flourish at Scottow as North Walsham racked up a third successive win for the first time in over three years.
In doing so they overturned an Old Albanians side that had already beaten them twice this season. In performance terms alone this was a total contrast to those previous meetings. Then the Vikings looked lacklustre and at times seemed loathe to compete. This time they oozed self belief and contested every one of the 80 minutes.
Preparations took a big hit when Iain Beck suffered a leg injury in training requiring several stitches. His place was filled by Ollie Arnold, who had an impressive first 40 minutes before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. Into his place stepped young Matt Oakes, a stranger to the second row, who drew praise from the coaches for his work rate.
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Although no classic, this was a full blooded encounter with defences in the ascendancy close to the try lines.
The visitors went ahead after 12 minutes when Richard Gregg converted a penalty. Both sides suffered a blow when Adie Ball and Justin Azzopardi had to leave the field after a clash of heads, with Ball requiring hospital treatment.
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After half an hour Walsham could have been awarded a penalty try and the visitors a yellow card when Lee Sandberg was prevented from taking a tapped penalty five metres from the try line, but the referee played advantage and eventually Young levelled the score with the subsequent penalty.
All too often this season Walsham have been the architects of their own downfall with a lack of discipline, but now they are forcing opponents into errors and following a succession of offences at the breakdown Peter Clifford was offered a couple of chances, slotting one but pulling the second wide. An incursion into the Walsham half following a break brought the visitors a penalty converted by Sam Stanley to level the scores again.
The final 10 minutes were all Walsham. A Clifford penalty restored the lead and the referee finally lost patience with the visitors and sin binned flanker Dan Henderson.
Godwin came close to crossing the line but it was a third successful penalty from Clifford that finally sealed the win.