North Walsham and Norwich come out on top in high-scoring games
- Credit: Archant
Eight North Walsham players ran in tries as the Vikings won 57-28 at Southend Saxons in London One North.
The points began pouring in after just four minutes, when a Dan Bird lineout set James Knight over.
Will Swart then broke halfway upfield, but a final pass to Jim Riley went into touch, before Joe Milligan successfully sent Riley over under the crossbar.
Excellent tackling from George Youngs and Lachlan Brown-Bates kept the heavier Saxons' pack in check, yet Walsham gave away the first of several penalties, as they tested the referee's boundaries, for Simon Hoult to convert, followed by a second for Hoult after infringements at the breakdown.
Matt Hodgson scored next, before Southend responded with a mauled pushover for Blue Newton. Milligan then sent Jake Duffield away for the bonus point score on 26 minutes, Hoult countering with a penalty, before Brown-Bates bundled over for Hodgson to add his fifth conversion.
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Southend came back with a left-wing break, Harry Branch handing on to Tom Day for the converted try, the sides turning round 21-35 in the Vikings' favour.
Milligan broke two tackles to take his own goal after the restart, before Knight's interception went forward. Southend scored from the lineout through Rory Inwood, leading Walsham to up the tempo and see a successful penalty hit from Hodgson.
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Riley then launched another foray, resulting in a Roydon Miller touchdown. The home supporters continued to urge on their side for a consolation fourth try, which Walsham prevented, instead rounding off a pleasing afternoon with a converted Dan Smith try.
The division's bottom side, Diss, were narrowly beaten 20-19 at home by Sudbury.
Norwich put together a comprehensive performance, beating Basildon 66-5 and inflict on their hosts their second heaviest defeat of the season to stay ahead of Wanstead in fifth place.
After a slow start, Norwich gradually warmed to their task. Scrum-half Conan Hoey got the first of Norwich's 10 tries to the left of the posts after Norwich hammered the Basildon line, coming up short several times before Hoey spotted a gap and barrelled his way through. The conversion was landed by Theo Elliott.
Basildon hit back quickly and scored their only points of the game, with their heavy pack, from a lineout 15m out as their driving maul rumbled over.
Norwich got into their stride with another try, this time from centre Rudyard Gant who used his 6ft 6in, 20-stone frame to bludgeon his way over tacklers and score halfway out. Elliott added the conversion.
From a free-kick at a scrum, Norwich spun the ball wide to the right and winger Adam Huggins rode two attempted tackles, finishing well, reaching just over the line.
To compound their difficulties, Basildon missed a penalty kick directly in front of the posts, after which Norwich began to show greater patience and improved ball retention, hitting up through the phases until Chris Parrott found a hole in the Basildon defensive line and strolled through to score under the posts. Elliott added the points to make it 26-5 at half-time.
Basildon came out in defiant mood and pounded the Norwich defence in their 22 but, underlining why they have the best defensive record in the league, the visitors held them at bay. Norwich worked their way out and centre Mike Lawton made a lovely break through the Basildon line, drawing the last man and popping the pass to Rob Micklethwaite to go over.
Norwich were totally dominant and shortly after the restart, Chris Parrott kicked ahead from the right touch line and Elliott chased the ball down, putting the defender under a lot of pressure, resulting in a penalty for holding on. From the five-metre lineout Norwich set up a maul from which Andy Hamilton broke down the blindside, going over in the corner. Elliott landed an excellent kick from the touchline.
Hamilton followed this up with another try soon afterwards as Norwich had pulled Basildon wide on the right and then found them stretched on the left allowing Hamilton to cruise over the line unopposed to make it 45-5.
Huggins went over for his second try. Elliott adding the extras, before Lawton added to Basildon's woes by carving a trademark line through their defence to sprint through under the posts.
There was time for one more try as veteran centre Jonny Wheater broke through and popped a lovely ball out of the back of his hand to Hoey to finish off under the posts. The kick was good and the game ended 66-5.
It was a good, solid performance by Norwich and sets up a very interesting game next week against Harlow, who still have a mathematical chance of avoiding relegation if they win.