Ruislip 17 North Walsham 26: Vikings made to battle to maintain perfect start to season
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham made it four bonus point wins from four with this solid performance on a wet day at lowly Ruislip.
Score lines and league positions can be deceptive though: Ruislip were way better, especially defensively, than their current League position suggested, whilst the Vikings dominance was such a larger winning margin would not have flattered them.
The visitors got off to a dream start with a converted try after two minutes. They won a penalty from the kick off, kicked to the corner and after winning the lineout Rob King went over in the corner.
Ruislip then enjoyed a good 10-minute spell but the Vikings defence was sound and the only damage was a Daniel Berry penalty. Midway through the half they extended their lead: Chris Godwin ripped out the ball in the tackle 15 metres inside their own half, slick passing took play into the 22 where Matt Hodgson cut inside two defenders to score a try which he converted himself.
The second quarter was all Vikings, as they poured forward getting quickly to the breakdown to maintain momentum. They struggled somewhat at scrum time throughout, but Dan Bird, Royden Miller and Matt Travers, aided by Tom Knight's accurate throwing, were supplying plenty of quick lineout ball whilst Bird, Miller and Frank Scott in particular were making good metres with their driving runs.
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For all their pressure they were struggling to score: handling errors crept in, Mike Braans was forced into touch after a great move by the backs, Ruislip somehow defended a series of forward drives. On the stroke of half time they got there, Godwin being forced over from a five metre lineout to make it 19-3. Given the abundance of possession and the advantage of the slope, the feeling was they should have been further ahead.
The third quarter was similar to the second, the Vikings sticking to their expansive style and playing some good attacking rugby yet not scoring due to some dogged defence and poor finishing. It felt as if they just had to score: they were held up over line but failed to get clean ball at the resulting scrum.
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Midway through the half, with the conditions worsening, the tide turned and the Vikings found themselves defending. With the penalty count against them mounting, they repelled a series of attacks and looked to have weathered the storm only, with ten minutes left, for Matthew Newman to score a well worked converted try - 19-10. Within two minutes the Vikings had cancelled out those seven points. Matt Hodgson's perfect kick off resulted in a Ruislip lineout 10 metres out; Miller rose high to steal it, Scott gathered the greasy bouncing ball to set up the ruck and the ball went along the line for newcomer Donavin Dejongh, on as a substitute, to score, Matt Hodgson converting.
In the final minute Alex Fieldhouse then got Ruislip's second converted try.