Vikings show good form

North Walsham Vikings 5, Mounts Bay 20THE Vikings have made a habit of reserving their best for games against the top sides and this was no exception.

North Walsham Vikings 5, Mounts Bay 20

THE Vikings have made a habit of reserving their best for games against the top sides and this was no exception.

They put in a top-drawer performance against champions-elect Mounts Bay, but this fourth consecutive defeat means they remain in the relegation zone with two games left. While the visitors deserved to win, the margin of their victory flattered them. The Vikings pulled back to 15-5 with half an hour left and Mounts Bay only extended their lead in injury time.

The defences reigned supreme and consequently there were few scoring chances, but the Cornish side grasped their opportunities clinically. The strong wind was also a feature of the game and Mounts Bay used it to better effect.

Tom Holt, Stuart Loose, Gideon Rossouw and Jason Applin all returned, while at half-back Iain Young and Jamie Burroughs were selected, the eleventh different pairing this season. Burroughs gave an assured performance at scrum-half linking well with Young who varied his play confidently.

Assisted by the strong wind, Mounts Bay mainly went forward, but they were thwarted by some disciplined defence while Iain Beck, Mike Howard and Applin controlled the line-outs.

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The Vikings went agonisingly close to scoring after 10 minutes. A neat kick from Young bounced up on half way for Adam Gowen to gather. He raced through but winger John Marlin got back to tackle him on the line where the referee was perfectly placed to rule no try.

Six minutes later Mounts Bay went ahead. For once they won their own line-out and, after taking play to the right, quickly moved the ball the opposite way for Marlin to score.

Gradually the visitors began to assert their authority and five minutes before half-time, after sustained pressure, Darren Semmens went over for a try which Jarvis converted.

The Vikings then lost the outstanding Beck to injury with Leon Davies an able replacement. With the half nearly completed Jarvis kicked a monstrous penalty from 10 metres inside his own half.

With the wind behind them the Vikings began the second half confident they could overhaul the 15-point deficit. They poured towards the line retaining possession well, mainly through short driving runs from the forwards and forcing errors by some strong tackling. Ten minutes into the half they got their reward when Stuart Loose dived over.

The home support sensed a famous victory, but while the Vikings continued to control possession they failed to pierce the visitors' defence and create any scoring opportunities. After a long kick from Andy Thorpe, Holt and Rossouw chased down the defender and bundled him into touch close to the line, but the chance was gone when they lost the line-out on their own throw in.

Throughout the second half Mounts Bay rarely crossed the halfway line, and when they did the Vikings' defence was impeccable. Nevertheless the final score went to the visitors when, at the very end, against the run of play, centre Tyron Child ran more than half the length of the field.

With Barking and Havant both winning to pull away from the relegation zone, things do not look good for the Vikings. But if they can play like this in their final two games they will give themselves every chance of retaining their national league status.

Vikings: A Thorpe, T Holt, R Clymer, W de Jager, A Gowen, I Young, J Burroughs, S Loose, G Rossouw, S Woodhouse, I Beck (L Davies 38), M Howard, D Reilly (J Kelly 70), C Godwin, J Applin. Substitutes not used: J le Roux, B Frost. Scorers: Try Loose.