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Head of rugby Brooks is pleased with North Walsham’s progress

PUBLISHED: 12:08 28 December 2017

The injured Matt Hodgson has been a big miss for North Walsham this season. Picture: Hywel Jones

The injured Matt Hodgson has been a big miss for North Walsham this season. Picture: Hywel Jones

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“Well satisfied” sums up head of rugby James Brooks’ feelings about North Walsham’s season so far.

The Vikings, fourth in London One North last term, head into 2018 fifth on 43 points, seven less than third-placed Amersham & Chiltern but only six more than Priorians in eighth.

Chingford and Brentwood are way ahead at the top and look set to battle it out for automatic promotion.

December saw two defeats against lower-placed sides, Brooks putting those down to the effect of injuries on a small squad and opponents’ qualities.

“Priorians have run into form and at Eton Manor we were short of senior players. But we’ve already shown we can compete with the top sides,” he said, pointing to the games against Amersham, Brentwood and Colchester. “We lack confidence, that comes with experience - the squad is incredibly young.”

The Vikings were dealt an early hammer blow with fly-half Matt Hodgson out for the season.

“Matt is a quality player, our playmaker,” said Brooks.

There has been a plethora of other injuries too, the number already exceeding last season’s total and six different halfback partnerships have been used. Losing Jim Riley (now fit) and Josh Brown (expected back February) at the same time has also been hard.

“Injuries are part of rugby and the boys have stuck together, played with lots of pride and put in some strong performances,” added Brooks.

There were 10 debutants in September alone, with overseas recruits Roydon Miller and Lachlan Brown-Bates soon proving their worth. Brooks is pleased with the way newcomers have settled in and young local players Dan Smith, Hal Riley and Tom Younie have established themselves.

Walsham resume their campaign a week tomorrow at home to Chingford and then go to Ruislip before hosting in-form Fullerians and travelling to Amersham, unbeaten at home. These games will go a long way towards determining any improvement on last season.

“The key question is whether we are improving as individuals and collectively and my answer is a resounding yes,” said Brooks.

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