Chingford 24, North Walsham 8
It was a cold, wet, windy and miserable afternoon in the Lea Valley for players and spectators alike.
The rugby was never going to be a free-flowing spectacle despite the efforts of both sides to get width whenever the opportunity arose.
Thankfully, over-flying helicopters created some distraction, as did the ever present seagulls.
Chingford won the toss and elected to play into the wind and rain. They pressed and harried the Walsham players around the base of the scrum, slowing up the ball and pressuring both Dewing and Borrett when kicking out of hand.
Coach Nick Greenhall made some tactical changes mid-way through the half with Dewing moving to scrum- half, van Vuuren to full-back and Borrett to fly-half – which had little impact. Chingford full-back Shimizu was secure under the high ball all afternoon and at the half-time break all Walsham had to show for their efforts was a score line of 3-3 which, given the conditions was never going to be enough.
The tactical and place kicking of Kurt Forward at fly-half put his forwards in good field position throughout the second half.
With Hamilton in the 'bin' following a yellow card for kicking the ball away when Chingford were award a penalty just prior to half-time, the Chingford pack were soon on the move. A driving maul secured a try wide out on the left which Forward converted.
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An excursion into the home 22, with the Walsham forwards driving in at the breakdown, exerted sufficient pressure to make Chingford give away a penalty. An attempted cross field kick to the corner, where Tibbatts was in complete isolation, was poorly executed and the scoring opportunity was missed.
A long drop out from the Chingford 22 had the Walsham defence scrambling to clear. Van Vuuren was adjudged to have taken the ball over his own line and Chingford were awarded a five- metre scrum. The Chingford pack took the opportunity to drive across the line with the referee awarding the try once the players had been cleared away from the ball carrier. Forward duly converted.
It would have been easy for Walsham to drop their heads, but they persevered and were rewarded from a penalty at the breakdown close to the Chingford line when Dewing took a quick tap to score the try.
With the clock running down and Walsham in their 22, an attacking chip over the top was charged down by Forward and he followed up to score a try he converted to make the final score 24-8.
This weekend is potentially pivotal with Rochford travelling to Hammersmith and Walsham playing third-placed Letchworth.