Old Priorians 5 North Walsham 33 – Vikings get campaign off to a flier

Aki Downing in action for Walsham at Old Priorians.

Aki Downing in action for Walsham at Old Priorians. - Credit: Archant

North Walsham beat a young Priorians side by four tries to one, to top the London One North table at the beginning of the new season.

Jason Mustard on the attack for Walsham at Old Priorians.

Jason Mustard on the attack for Walsham at Old Priorians. - Credit: Archant

James Knight tweaked his left thigh in the warm-up but was ably replaced by Dan Weber in the centre.

The Vikings' pack, containing veterans Stuart Loose and Chris Kent, set off briskly into the stiff cross wind, getting quickly to the breakdown and were completely dominant at the set-piece.

Matt Hodgson struck an early penalty, before being stopped short of the goal line. A take and drive saw the ball swing out wide to Jason Mustard, and back in to Johnny Masters who crossed for the first try after four minutes. Hodgson couldn't convert.

Jake Duffield showed quick hands, feeding his line with long passes to keep up the pressure on the home XV. Tom Williams and Tom Knight carried well from the back row before Mustard lost the ball on the line. The Walsham forwards then pushed the home pack over their own goal line, but no try was given.

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Chalk Hill Brewery Man of the Match Aki Downing, playing at number six, touched down following a five-metre scrum, for Hodgson to add the extras.

Tom Browes' throws to Jono Lawson, Kent and Williams in the lineout kept up the flow of possession as Priorians gave away two penalties in quick succession, both converted by Hodgson. On the stroke of half-time, full-back Harry Downing gathered a kick ahead to score, Hodgson converting, and the Vikings turned around 28-0 ahead.

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Priorians regrouped after the restart, as the rain began to fall, keeping possession as open side George Majrbovic was bundled into touch at the corner flag.

Walsham regained the initiative at the end of the third quarter when Mustard crossed for the bonus point fourth try, which went unconverted, but Priorians struck back minutes later when hooker Andrew Wilkie went over in the corner.

Vilikesa Vurewa came off the bench onto the wing as Ian Webster and then George Rossi provided fresh legs for the pack, but no further points were added.

Head of Rugby James Brooks was pleased with the great start to the season.

He praised the attitude of his players, particularly that of Masters, who came out of retirement to play at tight head, and Stuart Loose who played the whole 80 minutes despite straining a calf in the warm-up.

North Walsham: Harry Downing, Ethan Benney, Dan Weber, Will Hodgson, Jason Mustard (Vilikesa Vurewa 65), Matt Hodgson, Jake Duffield, Stuart Loose, Tom Browes, Johnny Masters, Chris Kent (Ian Webster 65), Jono Lawson, Aki Downing, Tom Knight (George Rossi 72), Tom Williams

Tries: Masters, A Downing, H Downing, Mustard

Conversions: Hodgson (2)

Penalties: Hodgson (3)

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