Monday, February 4, 2013
North Walsham beat former Twickenham finalists Aylesford in the London & South East semi-final of the Intermediate Cup to set up a home tie in the regional final against Brighton at Scottow.
This was the expected tight game, with the defences of both sides to the fore, not allowing many flowing moves on a very cold, windy afternoon in Kent.
The Vikings looked the better side in the first half, securing turnover ball for Kurt Benney to score what proved to be the only try of the game after 12 minutes, converted by Freddie Henley-Hunter.
Harry Downing was kicking well out of hand and Henley-Hunter was later bundled into touch three metres from the line, but there were no more scores before the break.
Immediately after the second half whistle, the Bulls were penalised in front of their posts for a high tackle on Will Hodgson and the penalty was converted by Henry Dewing. Tom Coller continued to boss the line-out, helped by Keith Fowles and Mark McCall, but Aylesford now had the push in the scrum.
Walsham man-of-the-match Adie Ball was prominent in the centre, putting in clinical tackles and sharp runs, while the young home side would have been even more in the game without errors at critical moments.
Bulls’ scrum-half Luke Cherrington touched down to the right of the Walsham posts, in what may have been a double movement, but as referee Graham Gibson was unsighted the try was not given.
The Vikings rallied in the final 10 minutes, helped by a second Dewing penalty, when the Bulls failed to release.
Aylesford continued to hammer away until the final whistle, and at the end summed up their afternoon as “a lot of possession and zero points, your defence was very good”.
Walsham now face Brighton at Scottow on Saturday, March 16 after the Sussex side beat Portsmouth 52-12 in the other regional semi-final.
The winners of that game will play the winners of the South West Region in a national semi-final at a neutral ground on March 30 – with the grand final set to be staged at Twickenham in May.
Next Saturday sees a return to London 2NE league action away at fourth placed Woodford.
North Walsham Raiders had another claimed another big Merit Table victory at the weekend, winning 93-5 at Lakenham Hewett.