Walsham aiming to round off excellent league season on a high note
- Credit: Archant
Saturday's home game against Old Priorians marks the end of a successful season for North Walsham, their first under head of rugby James Brooks.
Following his arrival in the close season the aim was a top four finish, a target achieved with games to spare, and whatever the result this weekend that position is unassailable and will be their best since returning to London One North in the 2013-14 season.
The most recent away game, two Saturdays ago at Saffron Walden which resulted in a single point win, thanks to a late long range penalty from Jake Duffield, was due to a dogged display by a side showing seven changes from the previous week.
This week's selection should be somewhat easier for Brooks, with some key players making their return, but equally he might want to reward some of those who stepped up.
Prop Acky Downing, who picked up a back injury a month ago, might need a bit longer in order to be fit for the Norfolk Cup Final. If so then Jonny Masters could continue in a starting role. Certainly due to return is hooker Tom Browes, who missed the last game.
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In the back five Will Hodgson could return at No 8 but equally Brooks could use him in the centre where he started the season.
In the backs there is still some doubt over the return of outside half Matt Hodges, who picked up a knee injury against Letchworth. The original assessment was four weeks out but he could well be another who is given an extra week or two to get to full fitness. If he does not make the squad then the young duo of Will Findlay and Jake Duffield will most likely continue their half back partnership. As regards the remainder of the back division Brooks has to decide whether to stick with Ethan Benney and Jon Younie who stepped up at Saffron Walden or bring back Jordan Mustard and Mike Braans, who were unavailable for that one.
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After a shaky start Old Priorians are sitting ninth in the table mainly due to an inability to string more than a couple of wins together, but have always been well clear of the relegation zone.
The Raiders who, due to the requirements of the Vikings, were unable to put together a side to travel to Saffron Walden, are hopeful that Old Priorians seconds will be able to travel to Scottow for an end of season friendly.