London One North: Romford & Gidea Park 10 North Walsham 31
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham made it four wins in a row with a well deserved victory over a spirited Romford & Gidea Park side on Saturday.
When the Vikings led 28-0 after 35 minutes, after playing some scintillating rugby, a big win looked possible, but Romford scored before half-time and the visitors never got going in a turgid second half.
The work of the forwards at the breakdowns, where time and again they won turnover ball, good ball retention and ruthless finishing were key factors in a very satisfying victory. Tom Coller and Ryan Oakes also won lots of lineout ball, but the visitors were outgunned in the scrums.
A converted try after two minutes gave the Vikings a dream start. Romford had not touched the ball when Callum Cashman crashed over to complete a move that went through 12 plays.
With Aki Downing, Wayne Williams, Cashman and the Oakes brothers punching holes in the defence, it was no surprise when they added two more converted tries midway through the half. After sustained pressure Matt Oakes scored after gathering a chip by David Treglown in the 22. Then came a moment of history as, with this second of his four conversions, Henry Dewing became the club's highest scorer, overtaking James Shanahan's record of 627: a remarkable achievement and testimony to his consistency.
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Two minutes later came a classic try. Chris Godwin won turnover ball in the Vikings' 22 and raced over halfway where Chris Borrett and winger Mike Braans, who made an impressive all-round debut, were in support. The ball then came back to Godwin who scored.
Romford came into the game more after that but the Vikings still looked the likelier to score and five minutes before half-time they got their fourth converted try and with it the bonus point.
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Ryan Oakes won a 10-metre lineout at the back and Coller was driven over for a forwards' try. The Vikings then failed to secure possession at the kick-off and this ultimately gave Paul Bradley the opportunity to score for the hosts.
Whilst the first half was memorable for the high quality of the Vikings' play, the second was a dreary spectacle. Save for an early attack the Vikings rarely looked dangerous while seven minutes in, having already lost the experienced Mark McCall to injury, they handed the momentum to Romford with a needless yellow card. Fortunately the home side were handicapped by uncontested scrums during the sin bin period, but they still surged forward and it spoke volumes for the strength of the Vikings' defence that it was not until the 17th minute that their line was breached with a second Romford try.
Once the Vikings were back to full strength it gradually became more even, but the visitors had lost their incisiveness. With the players tiring on the heavy ground and a plethora of scrum free-kicks, mainly against the Vikings, the game became bogged down in the middle third of the pitch.
Rhys Davies-Horne was unlucky when he charged down a kick on the line but the bounce of the ball went against him. Later he went past six players in a typically strong run but he lacked support but five minutes from time Treglown kicked a long-range penalty to complete the scoring.
Godwin, who had another outstanding game, was named Chalk Hill Brewery man of the match.
North Walsham Raiders gave a good account of themselves in their Eastern Counties 3N clash at leaders Beccles II before going down 19-12.