Barking 36, North Walsham 21 – Vikings are punished for a poor first-half performance in London 1N
- Credit: Archant
Fifth versus sixth suggested a close contest, but this London 1N game was never that.
The Vikings were blown away in the first half to be 24-0 down at the break and looked in danger of a heavy defeat. They then rallied to put on a much better second-half display, scoring three tries to Barking's two, but a victory never looked likely.
Nick Greenhall's selection showed five changes in personnel and five positional changes from the previous game. The back division had an unfamiliar look with Chris Borrett, Will Hodgson and David Treglown amongst the absentees and there was further disruption when the influential James Knight left the field injured after 12 minutes. This led to the backs being reorganised with substitute Greg Kirkham making his debut on the wing.
After Henry Dewing had missed an early penalty the Vikings found themselves on the defensive and that was how things stayed for most of the first half. Incursions into Barking's territory were rare and when opportunities came to build pressure the visitors quickly lost possession.
Barking had two chances to score in the first 10 minutes but their lack of precision and some stout Vikings' defence kept the scoreboard blank. It was only a matter of time though and in the 12th minute Jordan Saunders scored with Ben Lloyd converting.
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Tries from Ashley Wright and Sam John, one converted, followed in the next 15 minutes. Struggling in the scrums and finding it difficult to cope with the width of Barking's attacks, the Vikings were up against it but they clung on, conceding just one more try to Callum Gardiner close to half-time.
The Vikings emerged from their half-time team talk determined to improve and indeed they did. Ten minutes in they were rewarded as Rhys Davies-Horne took a quick tap penalty on halfway. Tom Browes surged into the 22 and after three quick passes Chalk Hill Brewery man-of-the-match Mike Rouse scored, with Dewing converting. It was vital for the Vikings to score next and quickly, but they immediately conceded a soft converted try. Barking's restart kick was unclaimed and, after two forward drives and some slick passing, Sam Clark scored.
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Then came a memorable moment from Chris Godwin. Jon Younie chased down the restart kick to force a home five-metre scrum. Barking duly won it but Godwin stripped the ball from their player running off the back of the scrum and dived over for a converted try. Four minutes later the Vikings' defence was again stretched with Sam Randle scoring in the corner to make it 36-14.
Four tries had been scored in 10 minutes. The pace then inevitably dropped and for the final quarter play was mainly bogged down in the middle third as two tired sides made basic mistakes. With 10 minutes left Davies-Horne reduced the deficit further with a converted try after he and Dewing showed great presence of mind to take a quick line-out.
Greenhall was pleased with the second-half display which showed a lot of character, but it could not make up for a woeful first-half performance. The Vikings are at home to Old Priorians on Saturday.