Winning finale for Vikings
North Walsham 16, Haywards Heath 14For very different reasons both sides were desperate to win this one - Walsham to end their season on a positive note and the visitors to ensure their presence in the division next season.
North Walsham 16, Haywards Heath 14
For very different reasons both sides were desperate to win this one - Walsham to end their season on a positive note and the visitors to ensure their presence in the division next season.
Walsham started as they had finished last week in positive mood, moving the ball around and for most of the first half keeping Heath pinned in their own half.
In contrast the second half was riddled with errors. That led to penalties and had the visitors had a kicker in their ranks the result could have been very different.
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Walsham's half-time lead was whittled down with three successful penalties but four went begging and the last kick of the game, a relatively simple effort, slid just wide.
There was the usual crop of changes to the home side, most notably a first start for Alex Graf-Grote at scrum-half, a role he filled competently, looking particularly sharp around the base of the scrum.
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It took nearly 10 minutes for the early pressure to tell as Iain Young slotted a simple penalty. Then Pena Sokia broke from the back of a scrum,the ball came to Sam Rhodes and the youngster made the final 10 metres to the line, baffling the defence with a couple of outrageous side steps.
The Vikings almost stretched their lead when the tigerish Chris Godwin turned over ball and his pass to Stuart Loose was inch perfect. Mark McCall made the final few feet and dived over the line but the referee, less than perfectly placed, decreed it was held up and the chance was gone.
An elbow injury sidelined Dom Roberts for the second half, Tom Browes replacing him in the front row.
A fired-up Heath took control of the ball and Walsham, struggling for scraps of possession, began conceding penalties - Dan Penney scoring with two from four in 12 minutes.
Young made a long range break from defence but his final pass to Ball was poor and a good chance went begging.
Walsham regained the initiative when the Heath hooker overthrew at a line-out. Godwin burst through and Sokia and Howlett were both hauled down close to the line before Browes dived over.
Almost immediately the gap was back to five as some slack tackling let Penney in for an unconverted try. Walsham were scrapping with little possession and the penalty count crept up. A simple chance went begging before Tom Taylor brought the gap to two with six minutes left.
Walsham defended well and their line was not threatened but deep into injury time Taylor had a longish effort which to the relief of the home team slid just wide.
Next game North Walsham Sevens, May 3, ko 11am.