North Walsham 33 Romford & Gidea Park 18
- Credit: Archant
First-time visitors Romford & Gidea Park made North Walsham work hard for their bonus point victory at Scottow, the Vikings only pushing far enough ahead in the final quarter of the match.
The win leaves Walsham a comfortable 14 points ahead of the visitors, and the four teams below them, in the table at the end of the first half of the season.
The scrums were very slow to set all afternoon, disrupting the flow of the game, and this probably suited the visitors more than it did the home side.
Romford were offside within five minutes, and Henry Dewing struck the penalty from centre field. A few moments later Callum Cashman failed to release in the tackle and centre Matt Phillips drew R&GP level.
Will Martin was putting in disruptive tackles around the fringes before Dewing set off from outside the opposition 22, past three would-be tacklers, and then upped the pace to the line for the first try, which went unconverted.
Phillips notched another penalty on the half hour before both sides made changes from the bench.
Approaching half-time the visitors picked and drove from a five-metre lineout, Ben Campbell taking a yellow card for the home defence, which held out, to leave the score at 8-6 at the interval.
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Into the third quarter, Romford No8 Steve Barfoot replaced his injured colleague at inside centre, and set off down the left flank, through non-existent tackling, to touch down and take the lead, Phillips adding the extras.
Walsham responded almost immediately with a rumbustious Chris Kent goal, converted by Dewing, to ease back in front 15-13. However, further pressure following a lineout near the Vikings' line resulted in Romford three-quarter Reese Parr going over out on the left, to regain the initiative, although Phillips missed the kick.
The action then swung to the other end; a pick and drive by the Vikings was halted by Romford, but the ball was recycled for Walsham captain Stuart Loose to score in the right hand corner, in front of the clubhouse.
Dewing was unsuccessful from the touchline, but the Vikings were ahead again, 20-18.
Into the last 15 minutes Dewing kicked his second penalty as Walsham began to apply more pressure. This resulted in another break up the left by Kent, who was tackled just short of the line, but who was able to unload to Shane van Vuuren on his inside shoulder for the fourth try, converted admirably from out wide by Dewing.
At the final whistle Dewing hit a third penalty, to bring his points tally for the afternoon to 18.
Attention now switches to next Saturday's pre-Christmas encounter away at Diss.