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North Walsham beat Diss as Norfolk’s top two battle it out for Senior Cup honours at Big Rugby Weekend

PUBLISHED: 10:35 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:35 08 May 2017

North Walsham celebrate after winning the Norfolk Senior Cup final. Picture: Hywel Jones

North Walsham celebrate after winning the Norfolk Senior Cup final. Picture: Hywel Jones

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Watched by a large crowd at Norfolk’s Big Rugby Weekend in Holt, the county’s two leading sides slugged it out for the Senior Cup.

Action from the Norfolk Senior Cup final between North Walsham and Diss (blue). Picture: Hywel JonesAction from the Norfolk Senior Cup final between North Walsham and Diss (blue). Picture: Hywel Jones

Only six points divided them at the break, but two converted tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half put the Vikings 31-11 up. That became 43-11 before two late tries for Diss made the scoreline closer.

Walsham head of rugby James Brooks said: “We prepared for an arm wrestle and that’s what it became. Our defence was solid and we executed well at key moments.”

Despite 10 tries this was no classic. Save for two second-half spells when the Vikings took control, the match was littered with penalties and breakdown ball was slow so play rarely flowed. Nevertheless, it was a great spectacle with two sides giving their all in a full blooded derby.

The Vikings went ahead after two minutes when Jono Lawson, playing his last game before returning home to New Zealand, reached out in trademark style for a try, which Matt Hodgson converted. Sean McLure then kicked a penalty for Diss and after 12 minutes they took a 8-7 lead, Chris Beaird intercepting on halfway and racing over.

Chris Godwin in possession for North Walsham. Picture: Hywel JonesChris Godwin in possession for North Walsham. Picture: Hywel Jones

Their lead was short-lived, two unconverted tries putting the Vikings ahead 17-8 with the game a quarter gone. First the forwards produced a great platform for the backs to show their passing skills, Jake Duffield scoring, then Tom Browes went over from a driving maul following a lineout.

Diss were struggling at the scrums and with the driving mauls, whilst Ed Sampson, who was prominent throughout offensively and defensively, was creating havoc with some mazy running. They stuck at it though and the rest of the half was fairly equal territorially, McLure kicking a late penalty to make it 17-11.

The Vikings took control at the start of the second half, with Will Findlay’s rapid passing and probing kicks driving them forward. Five minutes in Ryan Oakes was driven over for a converted try from another well-executed maul. The captain quickly got his second: Lawson won a Diss lineout deep in Vikings’ territory, the backs broke out and when the move looked like breaking down on the Diss 22, Will Hodgson found Oakes running the perfect line to bound in under the posts to make it 31-11 with half an hour left.

The game became somewhat scrappy for 15 minutes with basic errors creeping in and play mainly in the middle third of the pitch. With 20 minutes to go McLure kicked another penalty.

A Diss player wraps his arms around the legs of Ryan Oakes. Picture: Hywel JonesA Diss player wraps his arms around the legs of Ryan Oakes. Picture: Hywel Jones

Suddenly the game burst into life again. The Vikings’ backs had always looked the more incisive and creative and they produced a wave of attacks before James Knight powered over in the corner with Matt Hodgson converting. Five minutes later another slick move sent Jordan Mustard over.

Diss, who have enjoyed an outstanding season and will be joining the Vikings in London One North next September, then grabbed two tries, one converted, in the last five minutes from Kimi Latu and Jacob Page.

Oakes was named Chalk Hill Brewery Man of the Match.

North Walsham's Ryan Oakes on the run. Picture: Hywel JonesNorth Walsham's Ryan Oakes on the run. Picture: Hywel Jones

Will Hodgson in possession for North Walsham. Picture: Hywel JonesWill Hodgson in possession for North Walsham. Picture: Hywel Jones

Acky Downing on the ball. Picture: Hywel JonesAcky Downing on the ball. Picture: Hywel Jones

Jono Lawson puts the ball down for North Walsham. Picture: Hywel JonesJono Lawson puts the ball down for North Walsham. Picture: Hywel Jones

Jono Lawson has returned to his native New Zealand after impressiing for North Walsham. Picture: Hywel JonesJono Lawson has returned to his native New Zealand after impressiing for North Walsham. Picture: Hywel Jones

Matt Hodgson under pressure. Picture: Hywel JonesMatt Hodgson under pressure. Picture: Hywel Jones

A Diss player prepares to stop Matt Hodgson. Picture: Hywel JonesA Diss player prepares to stop Matt Hodgson. Picture: Hywel Jones


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