North Walsham 36, Holt 3
- Credit: Archant
Back in December North Walsham won 37-3 at Holt and Saturday's return fixture saw a virtually identical scoreline, though this time the victors scored one try less.
The London 2NE champions more than held the edge in all facets of the game, retaining the ball well and spending most of the match on the attack. With more precise passing they would have won by a wider margin.
Holt defended skilfully and heroically, and on occasions scrummaged well, but they never looked like scoring a try save for an early opportunity.
After just five minutes, a flowing attack took play from half way to close to the Holt line where the visitors were caught offside and Henry Dewing kicked the penalty.
Soon afterwards a break by Josh Simmons in his own half released the speedy Matt Jary-Ryan and Holt looked to have a realistic chance of scoring, but the Vikings did exceptionally well to cover.
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On 15 minutes the Vikings extended their lead to 10-0 when, following another attack from deep, they were awarded a five metre lineout and the forwards drove Chris Kent over for Dewing to convert.
The Vikings dominated the next 20 minutes and twice they looked certain to score, only to be denied at the last. Jack Hoyles, who throughout managed the game well from outside half, initiated a superb passing movement from their own 22 but the final pass was forward.
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Then Tom Williams broke from the back of a five metre scrum but Dean Blyth was bundled into touch at the corner.
With Leon Davies, Tom Coller and Williams controlling the lineouts and the Vikings' forwards dominant in the rucks and mauls, Holt were being starved of quality possession.
Five minutes from half-time though they made a rare foray into the Vikings' territory and won a penalty for a front row infringement which Tom Jackson slotted over. The home side's response was instantaneous. Receiving the ball on half way Pena Sokia burst through a gap, passed to Kent who unselfishly gave the ball inside to Williams who powered over from 20 metres, Dewing converting.
Getting on the score-sheet was just reward for Williams who put in a fine all round performance at No 8.
Trailing 17-3 at the break, any hopes Holt harboured of making a comeback were quickly extinguished by a third Vikings try three minutes into the second half, Mark McCall diving over from a well controlled maul following a lineout.
The home side's dominance continued and it only seemed a matter of time before they would score again. Holt though defended well and it wasn't until midway through the half, after a period of intense pressure, that Blyth dived over for a converted try, thus giving the Vikings their 17th bonus point of the season – out of a possible 20 – for scoring four tries in a game.
In the 70th minute the scoring was completed. With the game breaking up, Shave van Vuuren gathered just inside his own half and raced 40 metres before releasing in the tackle to Williams. He found Sokia, who had tackled and run tirelessly all game, in support and he outstripped the defence for a well deserved try. Dewing converted, giving him a fifth successful kick out of six.
The score line did justice to the Vikings' superiority but both sides played their part in entertaining a large crowd in what was a good advert for rugby in North Norfolk.
Despite this defeat, Holt are still fourth in the table. On Saturday, Woodford, currently placed third five points above Holt, are the visitors to High Kelling. This is a must win game to keep in fourth place while Woodford will be striving to make the play-offs over Ipswich.
The first meeting last September was narrowly won by Woodford 22-18, where Holt had played catch up after being 0-22 down to earn a bonus point. Therefore an interesting game is in prospect in the last fixture of the season.
North Walsham travel to Enfield Ignatians on Saturday looking to build on their 13-point lead at the top.