Humiliating afternoon for Walsham

Tony MarcantonioSutton & Epsom 55, N Walsham 15: So much for the hoped for barnstorming finish to the Vikings' season - it just did not happen. For 40 minutes they were in contention but then for 25 their performance, against a side already relegated, was quite frankly abysmal and for the travelling supporters it was humiliating to watch.Tony Marcantonio

So much for the hoped for barnstorming finish to the Vikings' season - it just did not happen.

For 40 minutes they were in contention but then for 25 their performance, against a side already relegated, was quite frankly abysmal and for the travelling supporters it was humiliating to watch.

Late changes through injury, both Alex Soutar and Pena Sokia failing to recover, and the non-availability of Adie Ball, Shaun Woodhouse and Ed Elvin, meant wholesale changes, but should not be held up as a reason or excuse for the defeat or the size of it.

Having been in contention for most of the first half and only seven points adrift at the break, Walsham should have been in prime position. But then the hosts were allowed to run riot, crossing the line five times as they took advantage of some of the sloppiest tackling imaginable.


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Right from the start Walsham were on the back foot, losing possession in midfield, conceding a five metre line out and the first, converted try from a catch and drive.

Walsham struck back quickly with a break down the right, Tom Holt making the big yards before passing to hooker Mark McCall to touch down. Play was quickly moved back towards the Walsham line and the ball, which should have been cleared first time, was instead passed to an under pressure Holt who scuffed his kick into Sutton hands and the second try was on the board.

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Play then settled down and neither side was able to make much impression but Walsham were doing most of the attacking, their only reward being three points from the first of two penalty attempts by Rhys Davies-Horne.

Walsham lost Josh Goldspink to the sin-bin for rashly launching himself over the top of a ruck and from the resulting penalty another catch and drive netted a further five points for Sutton. With play in midfield Ian Young made an interception and went all the way to score between the posts, the conversion bringing the gap down to four.

Both sides had penalty attempts in the five minutes before the break, only Sutton's succeeding.

Goldspink failed to return after the break, a back strain curtailing his involvement and Ian Webster making a rare appearance.

But any chance Walsham had of taking anything from the game ended four minutes into the half when another catch and drive developed into a ruck and a Sutton player rolled off the side to score.

Walsham came close to scoring when a neat chipped ball from Holt narrowly escaped the grasp of Shane van Vuuren. The winger, one of the few to emerge with much credit from the second half, nearly made it a second time with a solo break but his attempted chip ahead just failed to clear the defender.

Walsham were hit hard when one of their most aggressive players, McCall, was stretchered off with damaged knee ligaments. Dom Roberts moved across to replace him and Ben Campbell went to tight head.

The rot had set in however and before the third quarter was over Sutton, thanks to some woeful tackling, had three further tries, two converted, on the board. The Walsham backline had to be reorganised when Jamie Burroughs was sidelined with the recurrence of an old shoulder injury.

Almost every time Sutton gained possession they looked likely to score, one breakaway ending short when the ball carrier, having outpaced the cover, lost his footing. The loss of Bruce van Poortvliet, who limped off with an ankle injury, reduced Walsham to 14 but amazingly the defence tightened up and there were no further scores.

Although the collective performance fell well below the standard expected there were some individual ones worthy of comment. Prop Roberts, making just his fourth start, defied a damaged hand to finish the game while the outstanding last ditch defence of Young and Davies-Horne prevented an even heavier defeat.

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