North Walsham beat closest rivals Colchester 31-26 to go marching on at top
PUBLISHED: 16:00 27 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 27 October 2019
North Walsham's outstanding form continued on Saturday with a memorable 31-26 win at Colchester in a clash of the only unbeaten sides in London One North
On a wet and windy day it was unsurprisingly a bruising and tense encounter, with the lead changing hands seven times.
Throughout the game the Vikings played the conditions expertly, not getting dragged into a forwards' arm wrestle and, whilst inevitably kicking more than usual, still using their backs to devastating effect.
Colchester scored after two minutes through Max Payne, with the Vikings' normally impeccable defence at fault. Five minutes later the scores were level, Joe Milligan gliding over from 20 metres after a great kick chase, with Matt Hodgson converting.
The hosts regained the lead when Mitchell James was driven over at a line-out but six minutes later Jim Riley burst through for a converted try after some intricate approach play. A James Crozier penalty made it 15-14 at half-time.
Two minutes after the break the Vikings went further behind to a disputed try from Payne, only for Callum Anthony to then go over from short range for a converted try. Back came Colchester, Crozier's penalty giving them a 23-21 lead, but Walsham gradually took control and with 15 minutes left a maul was held up over the line and from the resultant scrum, play went across the field and back before George Youngs scored and Hodgson converted from wide out before adding a penalty. With the game's last act a Nicholas Flexman penalty gave Colchester a losing bonus point.
Norwich won a tryless top of the table battle with Southwold 12-6 to retain top position.
With the wind behind them in the first half, Norwich struck first after two minutes when Southwold were penalised in front of the posts and Theo Elliott took the points. Fifteen minutes in Norwich had another penalty in front of goal, when a Southwold prop slipped the bind on a scrum, and Elliott again took the points.
Southwold struck back with a close-range penalty from Luke Wade just before half-time and Wade levelled after the hosts had been penalised for offside. But with 20 minutes to go Norwich were awarded a scrum penalty in front of the posts which Elliott converted.
After being held at bay illegally, Norwich stretched their lead to six points and they then defended superbly in the closing stages to see out the win.
Diss moved up to third thanks to a hard-fought 22-15 win at Romford and Gidea Park.
With the wind behind them Romford led at half time but solid Diss defence limited the home side. Changes at the break, combined with the conditions, allowed Diss to totally dominate the second half, with Declan Hall, Rob Silcocks and John Bergin all creating chances.
Hall scored from a line-out drive and two further tries from counter-attacks secured a well deserved win.
Holt secured their first league win and a four try bonus point with a 24-15 success over bottom of the table Epping Upper Clapton at Bridge Road.
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Holt were soon on the scoreboard when fly-half Tom Jackson made a clever break to put away Aaron Tagg who scored an unconverted try. Jackson was involved again when his kick through was touched down by Ollie Woodrow and he converted to make it 12-0. Woodrow then set up Tim Allen for Holt's third try before Epping responded with an unconverted try.
Within a minute of the restart the visitors closed the gap further and a third uncoverted try made it 17-15.
Holt then raised their game for the last quarter and Jimmy Goodliffe won a chase for a loose ball behind the Epping line to stretch the home lead, with Jackson completed the scoring with his conversion.
Wymondham drew a blank against Ipswich at Barnard Fields, going down 13-0.
West Norfolk moved back to the top courtesy of a comfortable 35-3 win at Fakenham.
Thetford continue to look like promotion contenders after edging past Ely 22-19 to condemn their visitors to a first defeat while the basement battle saw Crusaders beat Beccles 29-24 at Little Melton.
Norwich Union moved five points clear at the top after a hard-fought 12-3 win over fellow high-flyers Diss II.
Jon Spicker and Craig Dunbar scored the tries, with stand-in scrum-half Jay O'Brien converting the opening score.
In the other matches played Watton beat Norwich Medics 33-7 and Wymondham II won 7-0 at Norwich II.