Rugby: North Walsham 29, Lydney 44

North Walsham's dream of a lucrative quarter-final against one of the remaining highly ranked sides in the EDF Energy National Trophy ended with defeat at the hands of fellow National Three side Lydney.

North Walsham's dream of a lucrative quarter-final against one of the remaining highly ranked sides in the EDF Energy National Trophy ended with defeat at the hands of fellow National Three side Lydney.

What a pity though that the dull, dank weather and the lure of watching Six Nations rugby from the comfort of an armchair, kept the crowd down to just short of the 400 mark, when the commitment and effort of both teams warranted at least double that.

This was cup rugby at it's best. There were nine tries and 73 points over the 80 minutes - stretch that to over 90 if you add on injury time - plus entertainment in abundance as the scoreboard kept ticking.

Indeed with 10 minutes left the Vikings had their noses in front by two points, so the 15 point gap following two late strikes by the Severnsiders does not truly reflect the game.


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Both sides made changes from their regular line-ups and of the 44 players on the team sheets around a quarter were teenagers, with Jon Curry blooding 18-year-old Gresham's student Harry de Stackpool on the left wing.

So what was the difference between the sides? One, and it was probably key, was the kicking. Off the ground there was nothing to choose. Walsham's Aiden McNulty missed just once from five efforts, while Lydney's Adam Westall contributed 19 points, with a six from seven record. From hand it was a totally different story. Westall put in an almost faultless performance while McNulty had a forgettable one, with at least two penalty kicks for lineouts failing to find touch and others failing to trouble the Lydney back three. From the touchlines, where it is always easier to play the game from, it seemed that Walsham would have prospered had they kept the ball in hand.

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Some sort of record must have been broken, with Walsham's first score coming with just 27 seconds on the clock. The kick-off was run back by Pena Sokia and an attempted chip was knocked back into the hands of Adam Gowen who hit the gap before putting Tom Holt away for the touchdown. McNulty converted.

Westall reduced the deficit with a penalty before Walsham struck again. The ball was won at a lineout and in a flash it went from Arthur Delport to Chris Godwin. A sidestep took him past the defender and he was in by the posts.

Walsham should have been cruising but a high clearance kick was returned by Westall, two Walsham players got under the ball, neither caught it, and Tom Jarvis was up like a flash to kick ahead and score. Westall converted, and the lead was down to two.

Having got themselves back into contention Lydney's forwards began to rumble and twice in the space of 15 minutes they drove over Walsham's line. Each time No 8 Marriott Kyle claimed the touchdown, twice Westall converted and the visitors had a 10 point lead.

Walsham were unable to breach the defence until just before the break when, out of nothing, the ball came to full-back Gowen close to halfway. He set off seemingly with little chance of a score, but having shrugged off half a dozen tackles he was over the line.

After the break Walsham conceded a couple of penalties, Westall scoring with the first, and then McNulty restored the status quo from in front of the posts.

With the game entering the final quarter Lydney suddenly had their numbers reduced. Replacement James Matthews had not had time to get his hands dirty before he was penalised for pulling down a Walsham forward in a lineout, and while the referee was flourishing a yellow card, prop Paul Price was dealt with similarly for verbal abuse of the touch-judge.

Against a six-man pack Walsham had to take advantage and they did so. A big drive down the right was hauled down illegally. The momentum was re-established while the referee played advantage and then dropped a second time and a penalty try resulted. The lead was back to two points.

Walsham lost prop Steenkamp with an injury and Lydney, back to full strength, began to dominate up front. Walsham kept their discipline but a series of "pick and drives" ended with Price scoring close to the posts. Westall converted the try and, with 10 minutes to go, another penalty.

Eight points adrift meant two scores were needed for Walsham to survive but despite a supreme effort from all the players it was just too much. Some strategic kicking kept them on the back foot and in the final minutes yet another big scrummage ended with Kyle claiming a hat-trick of tries. It would be a harsh critic who found complaint with either Walsham's efforts - or Lydney's rightful passage into the quarter- finals.

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