Old Priorians 31 North Walsham 38: Excellent win for battling Vikings
- Credit: Archant
A determined second-half display took North Walsham to a memorable victory on London Irish's 4G pitch against their rivals for sixth place.
An OPs try on the stroke of half-time, followed by two converted ones soon after, had seen a Vikings' 19-7 lead become a 26-19 deficit.
But back they bounced, despite playing into a keen wind, outscoring their opponents three tries to one in the last half hour. Their defence in the final quarter was outstanding, while in attack they remained disciplined to score two converted tries in the last eight minutes.
The Vikings conceded a soft early try to Joe Wellings, Jack Dever converting. Two contrasting tries from Jordan Mustard, one converted by Lee Thomson, then saw them into a 12-7 lead after 10 minutes. For the first he sliced through in midfield from 30 metres; the second was from short range following a powerful run by Lachlan Brown-Bates.
Then the hosts won their ball from a line-out but the Vikings prevented them clearing, Ryan Oakes ripped out the ball in the tackle and Ed Sampson went over for a converted try.
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Two minutes from the break Simon March's try cut the lead to seven and changed the contest's dynamics.
OPs soon drew level after the break with a converted try, March squeezing over after sustained pressure, and with half an hour left they went ahead, Dever converting William Clark's try.
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The Vikings looked in defensive disarray but five minutes later, with their first attack of the half, Dan Smith scored after the pack won an OPs' scrum. Within three minutes, though, Clark got his second and at 31-24 it seemed the Vikings' revival could be a brief one.
The visitors then began to play some well controlled rugby, retaining possession through multiple phases, and controlling the scrums. With eight minutes left it became 31-31 after a scrum was won against the head on OPs' 22, and Will Hodgson broke through to score a try converted try by Smith. Five minutes later pressure led to a penalty 10 metres out and Walsham took the tap option and Acky Downing made ground before offloading for Brown-Bates to score, Thomson converting.
'Massive win, great collective effort,' said head of rugby James Brooks, so he decided that naming a Chalk Hill Brewery man-of-the-match was inappropriate in the circumstances.