Colchester 28 North Walsham 10: Vikings lose crunch game as injuries take toll
- Credit: Archant
It took a last minute try from Colchester to finally silence North Walsham and their 100 or so noisy supporters in this fiercely competitive encounter.
The Vikings, who knew a win would put them in pole position for the play-offs, were just a point adrift midway through the second half.
But Colchester went on to claim a deserved win, even though the margin of victory was harsh on the visitors.
Walsham captain Will Hodgson had to be replaced after just four minutes – the first of two significant injuries that made a challenging task an uphill one.
Both sides were looking to work the ball fast, but with defences on top it wasn't until the 13th minute that Colchester worked the scoreboard through a Higgins penalty. The Vikings responded quickly, Chris Godwin punching through the line and holding off a defender to cross the line on 16 minutes to put the visitors 5-3 ahead.
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On 22 minutes the Vikings suffered their second injury blow, Jake Duffield taking a heavy blow to the head. A reshuffle brought Mike Braans to scrum-half and although he had a good afternoon the Vikings' resources were now stretched to the limit. They conceded another penalty on the same spot as the previous one, Higgins slotting for a narrow 6-5 advantage.
Despite all of the defending, the Vikings went ahead in overtime when James Knight kicked crossfield for Jim Riley to gather and score, Hodgson hitting the post with his conversion. Walsham's lead only lasted three minutes however as Price took the ball off the back of a maul and went over for an unconverted try to make it 11-10 at half-time.
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With the wind behind them Walsham kept Colchester in their own half for 18 minutes after the break, with Hodgson missing a penalty along the way. But the hosts then began to get a foothold in the game and flanker Pickett set up Whiteman to skip over for a try converted by Higgins. Another attack failed 33 minutes into the half but the referee brought play back in front of the posts, giving Higgins an unmissable chance to make it 21-10.
Both sides then pushed for a try, with Walsham needing two to seal a win, and in the end it was Colchester who scored a converted try in overtime to complete the scoring.
The Vikings are now seven points adrift of Colchester in third place although considering the injury blows they could feel well pleased with their efforts, none more so than the Red Lion Coltishall man-of-the-match Joe Milligan.