North Walsham 0 Amersham & Chiltern 26 – No points but plenty of positives for Vikings

It was tough going in the rain and mud as North Walsham took on league leaders Amersham & Chiltern.

It was tough going in the rain and mud as North Walsham took on league leaders Amersham & Chiltern. Pictures: HYWEL JONES - Credit: Archant

London One North leaders Amersham and Chiltern came to Scottow and got the win the formbook suggested and their performance deserved, but the gap between the sides was not as wide as the scoreline implies.

The Vikings at least matched the visitors in the first half and were unfortunate to be five points behind at the break, but two converted tries in the third quarter left them with too high a mountain to climb.

Like all good sides Amersham took their opportunities, whereas the hosts lacked the incisiveness and creativity to unlock an impressive defence.

A heavy pitch and slippery ball meant lots of kicking from hand and few passing movements but it was an absorbing contest. It was a day for attrition, both sides making ground through driving mauls and around the fringes. In the set-pieces, of which there were inevitably many, honours were even with the Vikings giving what head coach Nick Greenhall felt was their best performance in the lineout this season.

Amersham had the better of the early stages without scoring and as the game entered the second quarter the Vikings mounted their first sustained attack and won a penalty, but Matt Hodgson's kick went wide. For the next 15 minutes it was the home side going forward with the leaders looking rattled. Tom Williams took an Amersham line-out to set up a driving maul, Mike Braans made a number of half breaks and Tom Lomax had two piercing runs but they could find no way through.

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Suddenly, five minutes before half-time, Amersham quickly moved the ball right then left before some tired tackling enabled Garrett Doman-Cann to score. Amersham scented more scores but the defence held out, with Chris Godwin and Jon Younie both making try saving tackles.

Jake Duffield replaced Younie for the second half with Elliot Benney moving onto the wing; the youngster made a confident debut, safe under the high ball and showing good feet with ball in hand. Amersham upped the pace and within 10 minutes were rewarded when the Vikings attempted to run out of defence, lost the ball and Dave Francis raced over from the 22, with Andrew Fluker converting.

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Undeterred the home side worked upfield and five minutes later were throwing into a line-out on Amersham's 22. In a rare blemish they lost it and, after a kick and chase followed by some slick passing, Amersham took a 19-0 lead with a converted try by Joe Butler.

The Vikings attacked incessantly for the next 15 minutes and Amersham took two yellow cards as their defence became increasingly desperate. But, with the game's final act, the visitors got a converted pushover try from a five-metre scrum.

Greenhall was very proud of his team, saying: 'We were particularly accurate in the first half, didn't quite match that in the second but it was a very brave and wholehearted performance throughout.'

He named Ryan Oakes, who was outstanding in the line-outs but also excelled elsewhere, as Chalk Hill Brewery man-of-the-match.

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