North Walsham’s relegation woe
BRACKNELL 44, NORTH WALSHAM 13: North Walsham were relegated from the National League on Saturday after losing to a well-drilled Bracknell side by six tries to two.
Despite losing to the same opponents as a week ago by a bigger margin, Walsham played with spirit and at times with some panache – but it was not enough to keep them in with a chance of finishing outside the bottom three.
The Vikings will now join Diss in London 1 North next season.
Mark McCall was back as captain following a recent broken right forearm, and together with Stuart Loose and John Pymm in the front row he set up a stable scrum for the afternoon. Walsham were attacking the opposition ball much more vigorously than of late but still giving away far too much possession by poor kicking out of hand.
Bracknell scored first with penalties at five and 13 minutes, both converted by Ben Nowak. Following a break over halfway by Nick Austin in the centre, Shane van Vuuren ran to just short of the line before being well tackled, but sharp backing up by Mike Henry, playing more freely at No 8, resulted in a try, converted by Jake Harris. This gave Walsham the lead for the only time in the match at 7-6.
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Bracknell player coach Darian Uys touched down in the second quarter, Nowak converting, to put the hosts back in front and two minutes later Tom Coller and Bracknell open side Michael Clarke were yellow carded after punches were thrown.
Lee Sandberg set up repeated phases of attack with good handling and miss-moves between Jack Hoyles, Austin, and Harris on the opposition 22 metre line, but the defence allowed no progress. Even with runs and kicks over the top, by Henry Dewing on the wing, and Rhys Davies-Horne coming into the line, further Walsham scores were proving elusive. And just before half-time, Bracknell No 8 Nico Maybury scored under the posts, Nowak converting, to make it 20-7.
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Four minutes into the second half, Clarke scored a try for Bracknell, converted by Nowak. Ten minutes later Maybury got his second, not converted this time. In the meantime Tim Weber was on for Pymm, fitting in well to the Walsham front five, later joined by Tim Mason, on in the back row for Henry.
Bracknell substitute Luke Batten went over at 59 minutes, the try being converted by Nowak to bring the tally to 39-7.This spurred the Vikings into a sustained period of pressure near the opposition line, resulting in numerous penalties and the sinbin for Bracknell centre Nowak.
Sandberg came off, van Vuuren going to a successful spell at scrum half, and Pat Reed came on to the wing in his stead. Coller and Gerald Hegarty still had their hands full with the Bracknell back row, while Leon Davies and Chris Kent remained prominent in broken play.
Following a pick and drive by Mason, Kent scored a try, converted by Harris, bringing the score to 39-14. With 11 minutes remaining the impetus swung back in favour of the home side, No 5 Andrew Ball getting their final touchdown, the conversion coming back off the left upright.
Attention is now focussed on the Norfolk Cup game at West Norfolk on Wednesday (8pm).
• North Walsham Under-17s reached the final of the London Division Bowl yesterday when they won 29-5 at Brentwood. Toby Fletcher (2), Max Moore, Harry Carver and Nick Moore scored the tries, with Harry Barratt adding two conversions.