North Walsham’s London 1N survival battle gathers pace
North Walsham coach Nick Greenhall couldn't be happier with the way his team are playing as they prepare for the final push in their battle against relegation from London 1N.
Having looked dead and buried six weeks ago following a poor run, the Vikings have strung together four straight wins – with a points tally of 167 – to give themselves fresh hope of avoiding a second successive drop down the rugby union ladder.
Saturday's crushing 55-7 victory at Brentwood put them in excellent heart ahead of their next challenge, a home match with already relegated Braintree on Saturday week – even though they remain in the relegation places. With just two games left Greenhall is well aware that maximum points won't necessarily guarantee safety – but he won't be wasting his time worrying about what other sides might do as he prepares for his side's final home match of a testing campaign.
'We can't start looking at other sides and wondering how they might get on,' he said. 'We have just got to concentrate on our own games and try and make sure we take five points from each of them. The lads have been playing really well recently and we have got to keep that form going.'
Few would have predicted a great escape for the Vikings on February 25 when they suffered a fifth straight defeat, losing at home at Letchworth Garden City to slip deeper into the relegation mire. But Greenhall, who will be presented with his level four coaching badge before the Braintree fixture, always had faith in the side he was developing, and has been delighted to witness their progress.
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'At the start of the season our squad wasn't the strongest and our results reflected that,' he said. 'But since the turn of the year we have brought some new players in and now we have a pretty settled side who are playing well together.
'It was really pleasing to be on the touchline at Brentwood at the weekend and hear the complimentary remarks about the way we were playing, both from our own supporters and those of the opposition. It shows the sort of progress we have made.'
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If Walsham can maintain their high standards against Braintree, and at high-flying Bury St Edmunds on the final day of the season, then there is a very good chance they will avoid a drop down to Division 2NE and a derby with neighbours Holt next season.
Two maximums would take Walsham up to 54 points and leave Rochford needing to win both their fixtures (Ruislip at home and Brentwood away) to finish above them. Even if Rochford did what was required then there would still be hope for the Vikings, with Chingford, Ruislip, Brentwood and Old Colfeians all within range going into the final two fixtures.
The only sour note on Saturday was the nasty injury suffered by hooker Mark McCall, who broke a tibia and fractured an ankle after being trapped under a pile of players. He will be missed in the run-in, but in Ben Campbell and Tim Mason Walsham have a couple of more than capable deputies.