Praise for North Walsham players after superb comeback against Barking

Jacques Olivier brings the ball out for North Walsham against Barking on Saturday.

Jacques Olivier brings the ball out for North Walsham against Barking on Saturday. - Credit: Archant

On a glorious afternoon North Walsham pulled off a superb comeback victory on Saturday to get their season back on track after a couple of disappointing results.

The Vikings were 28-15 down at half-time against Barking and looked to be facing a third successive defeat. Their position improved a minute after the break with a converted try but Barking dominated the next half hour before the Vikings took the lead with a minute of normal time to go. The drama did not end there as it was another 13 minutes before the final whistle blew.

Coach Nick Greenhall was in a buoyant mood afterwards, commenting: 'This performance exceeded expectations.

'I'm very pleased for the players. They are a strong group, they worked hard for each other and never gave up.'

A converted try each in the first three minutes set the tempo. The Vikings received the kick-off deep in their half, ran it and James Knight, Pieter Claussen and Rhys Davies-Horne combined well for the latter to score, with Henry Dewing converting.

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Barking responded instantaneously with a Shaun Turner try, converted by Ben Lloyd, but five minutes later the Vikings regained the lead. Wayne Williams won an attacking lineout and after good work from Jacques Olivier, playing at centre, and Knight, Claussen scored.

Dewing's conversion hit the post and on the quarter hour a Lloyd penalty made it 12-10.

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Inexorably the momentum then shifted towards Barking. Another penalty gave them the lead midway through the half and seven minutes later Sam Randle scored and Lloyd converted from the touchline. A 40 metre Dewing penalty quickly followed but another try and penalty gave the visitors a 13 point lead at half-time.

Only four players touched the ball in the second half before the deficit was cut to six. Barking returned the kick-off for Knight to gather and carve through the defence on a 40 metre run and the supporting Ashley Speight raced over.

Thereafter it was mainly Barking going forward and an outstanding defensive display kept them out with strong tackling, few penalties and no yellow cards. Lloyd hit the post with a penalty and the rebound created danger but it was expertly snuffed out. Good line kicking from Davies-Horne gave the Vikings occasional respite as Barking's frustration at not turning pressure into points became palpable.

In the 79th minute the Vikings suddenly scored. A quickly taken free-kick just inside the Barking half induced them to concede a penalty 20 metres from their line; another quick tap and the forwards were hunting second phase ball ten metres out. It was slow ball, but out it came and Chalk Hill Brewery Man of the Match Knight took the pass to storm over, taking two would be tacklers with him. Dewing's conversion gave the Vikings the lead.

The 13 minutes of time added on seemed interminable but the Vikings stayed composed. Play was mostly in the middle third and Barking threatened just once.

Finally, after hitting the upright with a long range effort, Dewing completed the scoring with a 20 metre penalty.

Before the game there was a minute's applause in tribute to Under 13s prop Rhys Yates who tragically died after a car accident. Rhys, who recently joined the club, was enjoying his rugby and doing so well he was man of the match in what sadly turned out to be his final game.

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