North Walsham Vikings marched into the semi-finals of the Woodfordes Norfolk Senior Cup on Saturday with a comprehensive victory over a spirited Beccles side.

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The visitors, who play their league rugby a division below Walsham, were still in touch at half-time with a deficit of just 11 points.

But thereafter the Vikings’ superior skills and fitness showed as they racked up a further 42 points without response. In all the Vikings scored nine tries, with impressive winger Freddie Henley-Hunter running in five of them.

Both sides made changes for the rearranged fixture at Scottow. The squad coach Nick Greenhall selected included only six players who had featured two weeks ago at Holt, while the visitors’ line-up listed six players not involved in their victory at Wisbech the previous week.

Beccles were the first to settle and took an eighth minute lead when the Vikings failed to control the ball at a scrum on their line and Gavin Hewitt nipped in for an unconverted try.

The home side hit back immediately. After Beccles failed to control the kick off, the ball was moved quickly to Henley-Hunter who tore down the wing to score under the posts, Henry Dewing converting.

Five minutes later the visitors regained the lead when Luke Wade slotted a 20 metre penalty.

The game remained fairly even for the next 15 minutes as the Vikings, despite controlling matters in the set pieces, struggled to impose themselves on the game through a combination of some solid Beccles’ defence and regularly giving away penalties at the breakdown. The Vikings’ backs were looking dangerous but were not seeing much ball.

About 10 minutes before half-time the tempo of the game suddenly changed. The Vikings began to break tackles and win quick ball at the breakdowns, and two tries in the space of four minutes rocked the visitors. First, after a strong run by Dom Roberts, Henley-Hunter scored again and Dewing converted.

Then, following another Roberts run and quick hands by the backs, Chris Kent burst through from 40 metres to make it 19-8. Beccles came close to scoring after winning a scrum against the head deep in the Vikings’ territory.

The Vikings were soon on to the attack in the second half and within five minutes, following incessant pressure, Henley-Hunter completed his hat trick, with Dewing converting from the touchline.

Ten minutes later it was 33-8. Keith Fowles was held up over the line after a driving maul, and from the ensuing scrum James Knight broke through three tackles on a perfectly angled run to score under the posts.

Beccles never gave up and defended stoically, but from here on in it was virtually one way traffic as the Vikings poured forward, varying their lines of attack and Knight, particularly, putting in some very effective kicks from hand.

Four tries followed in the final 15 minutes, two more from Henley-Hunter, a second for Knight and one by Jack Dove. Dove, on as a substitute for the last quarter, converted them all, two from the touchline.

This was a fine win by the Vikings. There were impressive performances from many players who are not first team regulars, showing the club has strength in depth. Special mention should be made of the goal kickers, Dewing and Dove, whose hauls of four conversions each both included two from the touchline on a wet and blustery day.

Walsham return to league action next Saturday with a home match agaionst Chelmsford.

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