Walsham Vikings heartened by derby win
Heartened by their win against local rivals Diss last week, North Walsham Vikings will make the trip to Basingstoke on Saturday in a positive mood.
The score line against Diss was not what some people expected but bearing in mind that local derbies more often than not fail to produce much in the way of scintillating rugby it was still a decent one.
As in all the previous league games between the side, the early stages were a bit of an 'arm wrestle' but once the second try was in the bag the side settled down to play some solid multi-phase rugby.
Opponents Basingstoke have a had a similar season to Walsham and their win over Diss the previous week was by all accounts hard won. In the home fixture Walsham finished three points adrift of the Hampshire side so if things go to form this should be another tight one.
As usual selection will be finalised late in the week but if Chris Godwin is free of work commitments he is likely to step back into the starting line up. If there are no injuries reported the backs could remain unchanged as new signing Ryan Healey showed good pace in attack and a solid defence. Adam Couzens responded to the call to travel up from college in Gloucestershire and will probably do the same again this Saturday.
The Warriors, having had a week off after their drubbing of Wisbech seconds, make the short trip to play Norwich Union. Skipper Alan Hepburn has several enthusiastic youngsters available and their experience will be enhanced by playing with some veteran former first team-ers.
On Sunday the under 17s are London bound as they enter the quarter final stage of the London Division Bowl competition against Ealing Trailfinders.
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DIss 8 North Walsham 20
RUGBY: North Walsham maintained their dominance in Norfolk's top local derby on Saturday as they made it four straight wins against Diss at National League level.
In a hard-fought battle, a strong finish saw the Vikings pull away after the county rivals had gone in at the break locked together at 8-8.
The result gave Walsham's battle against relegation a timely boost, with a match at third from bottom Basingstoke coming up this weekend, while for bottom of the table Diss there was the consolation of having competed well in one of Norfolk rugby's showpiece games of the season.
Walsham's head coach Nick Greenhall was naturally pleased with the result, although he accepted his side had not put in a complete performance.
'We haven't had many wins this season so it was a good day for us,' he said. 'It sets us up nicely for the match against Basingstoke and we'll go there confident we can get another positive result.
'I think we turned the corner before Christmas and now we are starting to play some decent rugby.
'The performance on Saturday was good in parts but I would certainly like to see an improvement. We started well and finished well – but I wasn't so pleased with the bit in the middle. At times we were given a lesson in scrumaging and line-out play and we need to learn from it.'
The Vikings won a close and cleanly fought encounter at a damp Bellrope Lane by three tries to one.
Diss had the edge in the scrum but a more disciplined Walsham performance made the pressure tell in an all-action second half.
Diss captain Matt Richards was penalised at a ruck early on and Jake Harris, playing at outside half for Walsham, converted the penalty.
With pressure on the Vikings' put- in, North Walsham No 8 Will Crossley began picking the ball from the back row and feeding a busy Lee Sandberg at scrum-half.
Much of the play at this stage was across the pitch, rather than direct, because of committed Diss tackling.
After 28 minutes, with full-back Barry Frost in the line, right wing Adam Couzens scored a try for the Vikings. Harris failed with the conversion to leave the score at 0-8.
Four minutes later Diss were unable to touch down a loose ball over the Walsham try line, but the pressure resulted in Walsham giving away a penalty at a subsequent maul, which Diss centre Chris Beaird kicked.
Tom Coller came on to the blind side for Gerard Hegarty at 33 minutes. Then, following a defensive ruck, Viking open side Alex Harrod was given a yellow card for coming in in front of the back foot.
Diss No 8 Stephen Hipwell then made a 20 metre break from halfway, and, following further pressure on the Walsham line, Hipwell was able to score a pushover try. Beaird failed with the conversion, leaving the half- time score at 8-8.
In the second period Beaird missed an early penalty chance for Diss but Walsham were seeing more of the ball, with good lines being run by Jack Hoyles at outside centre, Jamie Burroughs at 12, wing forward Alex Harrod and new left wing Ryan Healy. Dom Roberts came on for for John Pymm on 55 minutes to help out in the front row, while the Viking line- out was providing crisp ball through Leon Davies in the middle and Tom Coller at the front.
Diss began to give away penalties, and a further break by Hoyles put Walsham hooker Mike Henry in for a try, converted by Harris, to make the score 8-15. Six minutes later Harris missed a penalty when Richards was caught offside.
Shane van Vuuren replaced Adam Couzens before, two minutes from time, Sandberg made a wonderful break from 15 metres, scoring an unconverted try to make the final score 8-20.