Vikings reach new heights
Haywards Heath 19, North Walsham Vikings 25,THE Vikings overcame a shaky first half, and at one time a 13-point deficit, to defeat bottom side Haywards Heath to propel themselves up the table, leapfrogging Sutton and Epsom and Tring into ninth place, their highest of the season.
Haywards Heath 19, North Walsham Vikings 25,
THE Vikings overcame a shaky first half, and at one time a 13-point deficit, to defeat bottom side Haywards Heath to propel themselves up the table, leapfrogging Sutton and Epsom and Tring into ninth place, their highest of the season.
The next two weeks will present huge challenges as they face league leaders Shelford (away) on Saturday and current runners-up Barnes at Scottow on January 31.
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The Haywards Heath game took its toll on the Walsham squad with Jon Kelly, Tom Holt and Chris Godwin all struggling with hamstring injuries.
Available is new South African recruit Polla Malherbe who can play either flanker or hooker.
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Late training injuries to Pena Sokia and Adam Couzens meant the return to first team action for Chris Kent and Stuart Lowe and both were rewarded with touchdowns at Haywards Heath.
Opting to kick into the strong breeze blowing straight down the pitch Walsham were soon on the back foot. A penalty kicked down the right touchline should have given them the platform for a drive to the line but the line-out was turned over, leading to a converted try.
Heath's recently installed coaching team had obviously decided that the best approach with their resources was to run the ball from absolutely everywhere.
Walsham were struggling to cope with the home side's game plan and establish their own and as a result were forced into conceding penalties in kickable positions and twice in the space of as many minutes Meddings drilled the ball through the uprights and Walsham were 13 points adrift.
Once Walsham began to get their own game going they grew in confidence. Full- back Iain Young was always coming into the line and he burst through the middle, a speculative chip bounced into the hands of Adie Ball. Sensing the tackle 10 metres out, he chipped ahead but was brought down without the ball and the referee awarded a penalty try, converted by David Treglown.
Further transgressions by the Walsham forwards brought a lecture and Meddings took the lead back to nine points.
The Walsham defence were putting some useful phases together. A Heath knock-on and the subsequent scrum brought Walsham back into the game.
With the opposition eight going backwards the front row of Browes, Turner and Loose kept the drive straight and as they crossed the line Kent dropped on the ball to score. Right at the end of the half Meddings slotted his fourth penalty, but the deficit looked manageable.
Flanker Ross Nicholson replaced the struggling Jon Kelly at the break but with the strengthening wind at their backs Walsham put the pressure on and Clifford slotted a penalty. A drive by the forwards put Treglown, Holt and Young close but wide out. Ball sucked in three defenders before releasing Lowe to cross in the corner, Treglown made light of a difficult kick and the lead was three.
With Godwin and Holt also struggling with injuries Walsham's attack was blunted.
Back at the other end Godwin turned over ball on the ground. It was flicked back to Clifford and the centre's drop kick split the uprights. Poor handling and great defence helped Walsham to maintain control.
Lowestoft and Yarmouth II 7, North Walsham Warriors 57
Warriors, glad to be back in action after a month off, were too strong for their hosts. Former Walsham first-team stalwart Chris Borrett, who retired from the game 18 months ago, strapped on his boots and scored two tries.