Walsham give leaders a scare
RUGBY: No-one at Scottow could have imagined that North Walsham Vikings, struggling in the lower reaches of the table, would come home with two bonus points and within a whisker of taking all five from leaders Dorking.
But that was the outcome of a performance that drew praise from supporters of both sides. Walsham remain some points short of mid-table safety, but with a game in hand and weather postponed fixtures ahead, the mood remains optimistic.
This Saturday, at home, they face a similar daunting task time against Ampthill who are currently in fourth spot and fighting for a place in the end of season play-offs.
In the away fixture Walsham took an early lead with a try from outside-half Jack Hoyles but were quickly put in their place as Ampthill ran in a half-century of points without further reply. The Walsham side now has a much better shape to it and there is a 'can do' attitude among the players.
Coach Nick Greenhall was forced into some late changes last week and having shuffled the back line, due to the continued absence of Hoyles, he played Jake Harris in his place with Barry Frost in the centre.
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If Hoyles is fit then it is likely that Harris will move back to partner Jamie Burroughs and Frost to full back with Adie Ball, enjoying a purple patch at the moment, on the wing.
The front row is likely to be re-inforced by the return of Shaun Woodhouse in place of Dom Roberts and if Alex Harrod is fit he could return at open side, but reports of outstanding play by flankers Tom Coller and Gerald Hegarty at Dorking may make the decision especially hard for Greenhall.
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The Raiders are again without a fixture as scheduled opponents Wimbledon are injury-struck but the Warriors, who had an outstanding win against Diss last week, are away to Holt.
Dorking 29, North Walsham 24
But for a lack of concentration at the beginning of the second half, when both the young Dorking props scored tries, this could have been a famous victory, writes Graham Price.
The Vikings are now showing that with the right mental approach they can play tight, loose and in any way needed to suit match conditions.
Dorking outside-half Mat Noble opened the scoring with a fourth-minute penalty, then four minutes later left wing Gary Johnston scored a try in the corner following a re-set scrum near the Walsham line. Noble added the conversion to bring the score to 10-0.
The Viking scrum remained under pressure in the first quarter, omens not looking good when the front row stood up.
However, although conceding weight to the opposition forwards, experience began to tell, and things settled thereafter.
Following an accurate line kick by Jake Harris, playing at number ten for Walsham, Chris Kent went over from the ensuing line out for an excellent try, converted by Harris, taking the score to 10-7.
The Viking wing forwards Gerard Hegarty and Tom Coller were again prominent in a full team performance, with Walsham number 8 Mike Henry going over the try line, but the ball adjudged to have been held up.
John Pymm came on for Dom Roberts at 35 minutes, following an ankle injury, and did the job asked of him at tight head.
Dorking captain Armand Roux scored a try four minutes later, Noble missing the conversion, making it 15-7 at half-time.
The second half opened with a probing run from Adie Ball, coming into the line from full-back for the Vikings, followed soon after by a catch and drive to the line for a try by Mark McCall. Harris was unable to convert, the score 15-12.
Dorking's Greg Bateman steamed clean through four or five tackles in the centre to run 50 metres for a spectacular try, Noble adding the conversion.
Four minutes later, Dorking loose head prop Tom Bristow touched down under the posts, Noble converting to bring the tally to 29-12.
Into the final quarter, Walsham man-of-the-match Adie Ball scored a brilliant solo try, ghosting in from the right from 20 metres, Harris converting to 29-19.
Eight minutes from time, Barry Frost, playing at outside centre, crossed the line to the right of the posts, but Harris was unable to add the conversion, the score now 29-24, which is how it stayed as Dorking's Noble missed a penalty late on.
n There is a report of North Walsham Warriors' fine win over Diss on Page 54.