London 1 North: North Walsham 11, Rochford 12
North Walsham lost to fellow strugglers Rochford with the last kick of the match, despite scoring the only try of the game.
This may prove to be the pivotal moment of the season for the Vikings as, even with the losing bonus point, they dropped back into the London 1N relegation zone while Rochford leapfrogged above them.
Walsham started brightly, Ollie Hardisty putting left wing Ewan Wilson in for a try after only four minutes, but Henry Dewing was unable to convert from out wide.
Rochford outside half Kit Branch kicked a penalty a short while later to reduce the deficit.
The Viking forwards were dominant in the scrum, disrupting the Rochford heel throughout the game, but never quite managed to gain possession. Tom Coller and Andy Tibbats harvested good line-out ball early on, but the throws were too often adjudged not straight by referee Nicola Reynolds. A second Branch penalty put the visitors ahead on 22 minutes when Walsham failed to release the ball in a tackle. Dewing was later successful with a 24-metre penalty to restore the Vikings' lead.
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Chris Borrett was putting useful kicks into the box behind the Rochford defence and making breaks in his more natural position in the centre while Shane van Vuuren had a busy game at full-back.
By the second quarter Walsham were having increasing difficulty getting over the gain line, home breakdown ball was slower coming, and movement along the three quarters was almost static, while the Rochford defence stayed up very flat, testing the offside line.
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Branch gained a third penalty, and the lead, six minutes into the second period. Rochford were now playing with their tails up, sensing a victory, with nearly all the play in the Walsham half of the field.
Holes appeared in the Vikings' defence, van Vuuren touching down a dangerous kick ahead. Visiting centre Daniel Needham failed with a drop goal attempt before a kick over the top by Branch was touched down by Rochford captain Matthew Stewart, but was disallowed for offside.
Borrett had a clearing kick charged down and home line-outs were becoming scrappy before Ben Campbell replaced Mark McCall as hooker and James Forrester came on in the centre for Stephen Hyde.
Breakouts by Walsham resulted in comprehensive cover tackling by the visitors, but with five minutes to go the Vikings worked their way towards the opposition goal line and an ensuing penalty by Dewing restored the home team's lead to 11-9. However, right at the final whistle, Walsham failed to control their own heel at a scrum, conceding a penalty, which Branch put away from 30 metres to give Rochford the spoils.
Vikings travel to leaders Thurrock on Saturday with nothing to lose.
• North Walsham Raiders maintained their improvement with a 53-19 win over UEA Trojans in the Woodfordes Merit table. Walsham were 26-0 up at the break and extended the lead to 31 before UEA crossed their line.
Lapses of concentration led to the visitors scoring twice more but the upper hand was always with the home side as they took their total of tries to nine. Angus Briggs and Adam Dye each scored twice while Harry Downing, Seb Roberts, Chad Seeley, Chris Hamilton and Laurence Austin scored one each. Conversions came from Jack Dove (2) and Billy Graham-Park.