North Walsham coach wants fast start against strugglers
PUBLISHED: 06:49 08 February 2019
Following the disappointment of the cancellation of their Norfolk Cup semi-final against Diss North Walsham return to action in London 1N on Saturday with a home game against Luton.
The Bedfordshire side, who look doomed to relegation, started the season well with three wins before September was out, but since then it has been an unbroken run of defeats.
Ruislip, who were thrashed 76-7 at Scottow, beat them 100-0 the following week and they lost 54-17 at home to Colchester last time out.
Knowing that in the past the Vikings have been slow starters after a week off coach Johnny Masters will be emphasising the need for them to get into their stride as quickly as possible.
With George Youngs away, Frank Scott heading for Australia for six months and Acky Downing moving to Ipswich front row options are limited. The versatile Will Swart is likely to switch to the back row where his pace off the flank could prove decisive. Having suffered a dead leg at Old Priorians Roydon Miller is likely to be rested.
In the back line Mike Braans is also unavailable but Jake Duffield has recovered from the head injury sustained at Colchester and will resume his pairing with Matt Hodgson. In the backs James Knight, Joe Milligan, Jim Riley and Dan Smith seem certain to return and Donavin Dejongh makes his final appearance before deploying to Kenya with his regiment. It will be a landmark day for Ryan Oakes as he clocks up his 100th appearance.
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 Milligan, J Riley, J Cherry, D Dejongh, D Canning.
Diss are at home to sixth placed Amersham & Chiltern who beat them 39-3 in a reverse fixture that had to be re-arranged after the visitors failed to make the original due to traffic congestion.
Now 10 points adrift at the foot of the table after losing 41-0 at Old Haberdashers last time out, Diss had a blank weekend when they were unable to raise a side for their scheduled Norfolk Cup semi-final.
Norwich, with a run of five straight league wins behind them, have a tough game as league leaders Woodford visit Beeston Hyrne.
Last week’s uncharacteristically flat and error strewn performance in the Intermediate Cup defeat at Letchworth will have served as a wake-up call ahead of the fixture. Woodford have only lost once this season, to second placed Romford & Gidea Park, so the size of Norwich’s task is obvious. Theo Elliott and Jonny Wheater are unavailable so Chris Parrott moves to 10 and either Laurence Austin or Dave Micklethwaite will have to fill in at 12.
Captain Matt Selby said: “This promises to be a fantastic game after a disappointing performance last week in difficult conditions. Woodford play a brand of rugby similar to our own, looking to move the ball into the wide channels with pace. We will take confidence in our spirited second half performance against them in October that saw us miss out by four points and will be looking to put our home advantage to good use.”
Southwold are at home to Saffron Walden in a mid-table battle that pits seventh against fifth.
A big crowd is expected at Bridge Road when title challengers Holt and Wymondham go head to head in an eagerly awaited match.
Holt won the reverse fixture - the first to be staged at Barnard Fields - 25-17 back in October but since then Wymondham have been more consistent and went top when they won their previous fixture at Thurston 94-7 while their rivals were having a weekend off.
They lead the way by a point from fellow contenders Ely, with Wymondham two further back with a game in hand on both the teams.
It is doubtful there will be many changes from the Wymondham team that played so well at Thurston although talisman Charlie Delaney is doubtful following a training ground injury. The pack will have to raise their game significantly following the defeat earlier in the season when they were comprehensively beaten by the dynamic Holt forwards.
Ely host Thurston while the other games featuring Norfolk sides are Fakenham v Wisbech, Woodbridge v Thetford and Ipswich YM v Crusaders.
The second stage of the season gets under way with Eastern Counties IN teams taking on opposition from the West and South sections. The top two in each division will be playing their rivals at home and away - with the process being repeated for those finishing third and fourth, fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth.
Beccles begin their bid to reach London 3EC with a home game against Colchester III while Norwich Union host Cottenham Renegades. In the Plate North Walsham Raiders host Bury St Edmunds II and Norwich Medics entertain Shelford 111.