HAC 18 North Walsham 29: Vikings come through tough away test with bonus point win
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham came through a tough challenge in London with a bonus point win to remain just three points behind third-placed Colchester in London 1N.
Starting the game by playing into the strong, rain-laced wind the Vikings were immediately on the back foot, conceding an uncoverted try and losing Jake Duffield with hamstring trouble.
With Tom Knight coming on as hooker and Will Swart moving to the wing Walsham then got a foothold in the game and after a period of pressure Joe Milligan broke away to level the scores.
The Vikings then got pinned into their own 22 for an extended period and a penalty made it 8-5 to HAC. The hosts then withstood some pressure themselves before an excellent break took them nearly the length of the field for a second try which was converted to make it 15-5.
The next piece of excitement came quickly. Matt Hodgson, deep in his own half, put up a cross-kick to winger Jim Riley who collected it on the full just in the HAC half and beat the remaining defenders to score a try which was converted to reduce the deficit to just three points.
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The third Vikings' try was a strange one. They were pressing on the line and all of a sudden Matt Hodgson emerged unscathed from the fray to put the ball down, making it 15-19 at the break.
Just before half-time Roydon Miller sustained a hip injury, with Ed Sampson replacing him.
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The Vikings were playing with the wind behind them in the second half and the first real action came after a raking cross-kick by Matt Hodgson. This bobbled up close to the HAC line and Coltishall Red Lion player of the match Swart swooped in from the wrong wing and flattened the HAC defender as Riley helped put him in touch. However in their first drive of the second half HAC secured and converted a penalty to make it 18-19.
The next period of Vikings' pressure resulted in a penalty to take back the lead at 18-22. Getting back into the HAC half from the restart the Vikings sprung a surprise and scored a try to match Riley's first half effort. Instead of kicking for the corner Matt Hodgson moved the ball out, it went through the backs' hands and Milligan beat a couple of men before finding himself all alone to run in an excellent converted try to complete the scoring.
Head of Rugby Johnny Marsters felt it was an excellent away win against a good side and praised Swart's contribution as he proved what a versatile player he is.