North Walsham 31 Luton 8 – Vikings turn in solid show to send strugglers packing

Ethan Benney touches down for North Walsham in the comfortable win over lowly Luton. Picture: HYWEL

Ethan Benney touches down for North Walsham in the comfortable win over lowly Luton. Picture: HYWEL JONES - Credit: Archant

In conditions that a traditionalist might call 'proper rugby weather', but most people would call ghastly, the Vikings ground out a solid win against their winless opponents without ever taking full advantage of lengthy periods of dominance.

The pitch was very heavy, with players going to ground all too easily. Too easy as well was the first try, Walsham winning the first scrum and then the first penalty for offside. Touch was found and a well-worked move saw Freddie Henley-Hunter take full advantage of a double overlap on the wing to score. Matt Hodgson's kick dropped short.

By the 10th minute, Luton had already been penalised in three scrums for deliberate errors and Walsham's control of this area of the game should have been enough for a much bigger margin of victory.

When the Vikings tried to play with freedom a couple of close forward pass calls went against them but they were next to score when, after good work from Matt Oakes, Matt Hodgson skipped past two tacklers to score and then convert in front of the posts.

There was one further score before half-time when Oakes again, in tandem with his second row partner Jono Lawson, ran the ball from the Vikings half and released Ethan Benney to score. Matt Hodgson converted with his best kick of the game to make it 19-0 at half-time

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The first half had set the Vikings up with an opportunity to break free in the second but it was Luton who scored first in the second half, recycling possession eight times on the Walsham try line before the wing Abaka crossed over.

Walsham then got back in front when the excellent Aki Downing drove through the Luton defence, with Matt Hodgson missing the conversion.

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Luton's best period came when two Walsham players, Greg Kirkham and Downing, were yellow carded in quick succession. Under pressure, Walsham conceded a penalty for not releasing, were pushed back 10 metres for throwing away the ball, which then brought the kick into Povvey's range to make it 24-8.

Numbers were balanced up a little when the Luton prop Garner was yellow-carded, and when Walsham got back to the full 15 they completed the scoring when Will Hodgson set up his centre partner Mike Braans to crash through for his try. Matt Hodgson made it three from five conversions.

Any member of the pack could have won the Chalk Hill Brewery man-of-the-match award, but it went to Wayne Williams for his tigerish qualities all over the park.

• North Walsham Raiders recorded a resounding 71-20 win against Lowestoft & Yarmouth II. They had the first points on the board inside 30 seconds when wing Vilikesa Vurewa went over for the first of his four first-half tries, all converted by Sam Rossi as Raiders led 28-3 at half-time.

The scores continued to come through Dom Roberts and George Rossi (two each), Ollie Dyke, Jon Younie and Sam Rossi, who added another four conversions. L & Y were rewarded for their efforts with two converted tries and a second penalty.

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