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Diss 8, North Walsham 20

PUBLISHED: 00:12 03 March 2011

Norfolk's two highest ranked rugby teams Diss and North Walsham came face to face at Mackenders on Saturday, with both sides having their fair share of possession in a keenly contested match.

Norfolk's two highest ranked rugby teams Diss and North Walsham came face to face at Mackenders on Saturday, with both sides having their fair share of possession in a keenly contested match.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

North Walsham maintained their dominance in Norfolk's top local derby on Saturday as they made it four straight wins against Diss at National League level.

In a hard-fought battle, a strong finish saw the Vikings pull away after the county rivals had gone in at the break locked together at 8-8.

The result gave Walsham’s battle against relegation a timely boost, with a match at third from bottom Basingstoke coming up this weekend, while for bottom of the table Diss there was the consolation of having competed well in one of Norfolk rugby’s showpiece games of the season.

Walsham’s head coach Nick Greenhall was naturally pleased with the result, although he accepted his side had not put in a complete performance.

“We haven’t had many wins this season so it was a good day for us,” he said. “It sets us up nicely for the match against Basingstoke and we’ll go there confident we can get another positive result.

“I think we turned the corner before Christmas and now we are starting to play some decent rugby.

“The performance on Saturday was good in parts but I would certainly like to see an improvement. We started well and finished well – but I wasn’t so pleased with the bit in the middle. At times we were given a lesson in scrumaging and line-out play and we need to learn from it.”

The Vikings won a close and cleanly fought encounter at a damp Bellrope Lane by three tries to one.

Diss had the edge in the scrum but a more disciplined Walsham performance made the pressure tell in an all-action second half.

Diss captain Matt Richards was penalised at a ruck early on and Jake Harris, playing at outside half for Walsham, converted the penalty.

With pressure on the Vikings’ put- in, North Walsham No 8 Will Crossley began picking the ball from the back row and feeding a busy Lee Sandberg at scrum-half.

Much of the play at this stage was across the pitch, rather than direct, because of committed Diss tackling.

After 28 minutes, with full-back Barry Frost in the line, right wing Adam Couzens scored a try for the Vikings. Harris failed with the conversion to leave the score at 0-8.

Four minutes later Diss were unable to touch down a loose ball over the Walsham try line, but the pressure resulted in Walsham giving away a penalty at a subsequent maul, which Diss centre Chris Beaird kicked.

Tom Coller came on to the blind side for Gerard Hegarty at 33 minutes. Then, following a defensive ruck, Viking open side Alex Harrod was given a yellow card for coming in in front of the back foot.

Diss No 8 Stephen Hipwell then made a 20 metre break from halfway, and, following further pressure on the Walsham line, Hipwell was able to score a pushover try. Beaird failed with the conversion, leaving the half- time score at 8-8.

In the second period Beaird missed an early penalty chance for Diss but Walsham were seeing more of the ball, with good lines being run by Jack Hoyles at outside centre, Jamie Burroughs at 12, wing forward Alex Harrod and new left wing Ryan Healy. Dom Roberts came on for for John Pymm on 55 minutes to help out in the front row, while the Viking line- out was providing crisp ball through Leon Davies in the middle and Tom Coller at the front.

Diss began to give away penalties, and a further break by Hoyles put Walsham hooker Mike Henry in for a try, converted by Harris, to make the score 8-15. Six minutes later Harris missed a penalty when Richards was caught offside.

Shane van Vuuren replaced Adam Couzens before, two minutes from time, Sandberg made a wonderful break from 15 metres, scoring an unconverted try to make the final score 8-20.

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