North Walsham 5, Westcombe Park 41

Promotion chasing Westcombe Park kept the pressure on leaders Southend with this comprehensive defeat of North Walsham, the 36 point margin being the biggest deficit for five seasons and the biggest at Scottow for 10.

Promotion chasing Westcombe Park kept the pressure on leaders Southend with this comprehensive defeat of North Walsham, the 36 point margin being the biggest deficit for five seasons and the biggest at Scottow for 10.

However disappointing this result, those who saw last week's defeat at Hertford would probably agree that this was a vastly better performance. Last week tries were softly conceded whereas this time around, with one exception, they all came at the end of some solid defending.

Combe controlled of the first half and had the bulk of possession in the second, but by a much smaller percentage.

The visitors came into this game as clear favourites, both on the basis of still being in the promotion hunt and for having a much more settled side.


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It has been the story of Jon Curry's season that he has not been able to pick the same side for successive matches but crucially has had to field eleven different half back partnerships, certainly no recipe for continuity. This week was no different. Just as Carel Swanepoel and Andy Thorpe reported fit again he lost Josh Reeves through injury and on loan Aidan McNulty. With Chris Borrett having ended his season to prepare for cricket Curry was fortunate that Jimmy Bardgett, on the books since the pre season but recovering from a shoulder injury, was available to make his debut.

It would be a gross injustice to Combe to suggest that they were anything other than the best side on the day but Walsham's commitment could not be faulted. Iain Young, partnering Swanepoel at half back for the first time, raised his tackle count to new heights, particularly in the early stages, while Chris Godwin and Bardgett faced up to their much larger opposite numbers without a backward step.

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Walsham started impressively, pressuring the visitors' line, but they could not reach or breach it. The first real attack by Combe produced a well controlled drive before Tom Hayman grounded the ball and James Whittingham converted, following up with a penalty five minutes later.

With a 10 point lead Combe began to dominate but the conditions had an effect on the next score, when Sokia, trying to break off a scrum, lost his footing.

Ian Hardcastle grabbed the ball and broke through to touch down and give Whittingham the easiest of conversions. Almost from the restart the Combe backs stretched the defence with a wide spread move, Thorpe was committed to tackling the ball carrier but wing Sam Naden was on hand to finish off.

Walsham finished the half in attacking mode but lacked the cutting edge to make the breakthrough.

Both sides resumed unchanged, but it was more of the same from the visitors and it took a great a tackle from Godwin to keep them out. But relief was temporary as a quickly taken penalty caught the defence napping, the forwards drove linewards and scrum half Roux had his name on the score-sheet.

The game was entering the final 10 minutes before the line was breached again when centre Purdy went over.

Harry de Stackpool, who had earlier replaced Tom Holt, moved to outside half and undeterred by the magnitude of his task started off with a big tackle. And then, five minutes from the end, he put a beautifully weighted chip in front of Thorpe who outpaced the cover to hack the ball over the line and dive on it for a belated but well deserved score.

With the clock running down Combe found time for one last attack, Roux claimed a double and Whittingham, who had directed his backs and called the shots all afternoon, slotted his sixth kick from seven attempts.

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