Rugby Union: North Walsham prepare to host leaders Rocford Hundred in London 1N
PUBLISHED: 07:45 01 March 2019
North Walsham face what is certainly their hardest fixture of the run-in when runaway leaders Rochford Hundred visit Scottow on Saturday.
The well financed Essex side have recruited well and with the exception of the Vikings and second placed Colchester have pretty much overwhelmed the rest of the teams in London 1N.
In doing so they have accumulated 1,221 points to a meagre 166 and with a full rack of bonus points sit 14 clear of Colchester with the Vikings a further three points behind in third.
Johnny Marsters is not the sort of coach who dwells too much on what the opposition are likely to do. He knows that Rochford’s side is built around a big strong pack but will be looking instead to the strengths of his own squad. He will be hoping in particular that they will be quickly into their stride and impose themselves on the opposition.
Centre Joe Milligan has fully recovered from the non rugby injury that kept him out of the Eton Manor game while Roydon Miller had an energetic 80 minutes with the Raiders without any problems. Both will, as a result, be back in the mix for selection.
A large crowd is expected at Scottow, with kick-offs now at 3pm.
North Walsham (from): L Brown-Bates, W Swart, N Rokodinono, T Browes, D Bird, M Travers, R Oakes, C Godwin, J Duffield, M Hodgson, D Smith, J Knight, A Dunn, J Riley, J Cherry, M Braans, G Youngs, R Miller, D Canning.
Diss are able to field a strong side for their home match against fifth placed HAC.
The return of Peter Bray to the front row and John Laurie to the back row will bolster a pack that has more than held their own for the majority of the season. Callum Roberts also returns to the open side.
The midfield of Warren Wilby and Tom Miller will give the ever improving George Jones every opportunity to release the three quarters while Chris Beaird and Freddie Precious return to strengthen the back three. The return of Cutu Serruys to the bench after a spell out will also help Diss as they go looking for what would be only their second win of the season.
Norwich return to league action with a home match against second-placed Romford and Gidea Park.
The hosts will be determined to get their campaign back on track after an indifferent run of form. They go into the match with a Norfolk Cup win at Thetford behind them - although they needed a late try to edge home 34-31.
“Again we gave a lacklustre performance and the squad have to realise that they are letting themselves down by not performing to the level that they are capable of,” said director of rugby David Everitt. “They are working hard at training and the coaches are identifying the areas that they need to work on but they are just not doing it on match day. If we do not improve significantly on Saturday we will be in for an uncomfortable afternoon.”
Norwich will be without Laurence Austin and Josh Wilson, the latter getting injured last week. This will result in Jason Hynd moving to the second row, with Dave Micklethwaite continuing at eight in the absence of Austin. Mike Lawton returns at 14 and Theo Elliott at 10.
Southwold will have a point to prove when they take on bottom team Basildon at The Common. They are the only side to have lost to them so far season, crashing to a painful 54-24 defeat in Essex back in November.
Holt face another big promotion showdown when they entertain fellow challengers Ely.
The home side will be looking for a repeat of their previous match at Bridge Road in early February when they beat Wymondham, the third side in the title race, 18-16.
A 25-18 defeat at West Norfolk the following weekend left Holt third in the table, three points behind the top two with a game in hand and only one team going up automatically.
Wymondham travel to Fakenham and know it will be a tough game despite a relatively comfortable win at Barnard Fields earlier in the season, with Fakenham having grown in confidence since then.
Lee Bartlett is unavailable so versatile front-row Ollie Coleman is likely to called into the squad.
Wymondham felt their 22-15 victory over Ely last time out should have been far more comfortable, with a number of try scoring chances being squandered, and this may cause a re-shuffle in the back division.
West Norfolk will be aiming to consolidate fourth position when they entertain Crusaders.
Beccles resume their quest for promotion when they travel to Newmarket. Following their excellent win over Hadleigh in their previous fixture Beccles lead the Shield table by two points.
Norwich Union travel to Colchester III while in the Plate leaders North Walsham Raiders visit Cambridge III and Norwich Medics travel to Bury St Edmunds III.
Lakenham Hewett Lionesses were unable to complete a double over Woodbridge Amazons but pushed them close, going down 20-15 in Suffolk.
They twice went behind in the first half before replying with tries of their own to go in at the break level at 10-10.
Prop Chloe Halliwell scored their first following a powerful run from Dani Pluckrose while Jasmine Donovan picked up and darted through for Lakenham’s second.
Woodbridge were put under some pressure early in the second period but defended well and made it count when they got into away territory, with two unconverted tries taking the score out to 20-10.
The Lionesses weren’t finished however and when Jess Underwood was tackled just short of the line scrum-half Sophie Bambridge was on hand to touch down with three minutes remaining.
The visitors pushed hard to get back on level terms and managed to drive over the line but they were unable to ground the ball and Woodbridge held on.
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