Ruislip 7 North Walsham 12 – In-form Vikings just six points off the top

Will Catchpole marks his North Walsham Vikings debut with a try at Ruislip on Saturday afternoon. Pi

Will Catchpole marks his North Walsham Vikings debut with a try at Ruislip on Saturday afternoon. Picture: HYWEL JONES - Credit: Archant

North Walsham's impressive form continued with a solid win over dogged Ruislip in London One North.

An eighth victory of the season meant they retained fifth place in London 1N, just six points behind leaders Brentwood. They were worthy winners in a defence-dominated game they were the more creative attacking force and a wider winning margin would not have flattered them.

Twelve points up early in the second half, they looked in the ascendancy but were thwarted by good defence and poor finishing and had to survive a tense final 15 minutes after Ruislip scored in a rare attack.

Most of the first-half play was in the middle third of the pitch with Ruislip having marginally more possession. The Vikings' defence was superb, pressurising their opponents into mistakes so that the home side rarely threatened the line; the one time they looked like scoring Ethan Benney made a try-saving tackle.

Vikings also had their moments before a swift passing move down the left was halted on the line and, with the defence sucked in, Ryan Oakes strode over under the posts with Matt Hodgson converting.

The Vikings played a more expansive game after the break and were rewarded within four minutes. Benney made another incisive run down the left before the ball was shifted right where Jon Younie passed to debutant Will Catchpole. Faced with three defenders 15 metres out he feigned to go one way but, with a burst of speed, went the other to make it 12-0.

Going into the final quarter Ruislip briefly burst into life and a driving maul resulted in a converted penalty try.

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The visitors almost replied immediately. Tom Williams gathered Matt Hodgson's restart kick before the pack, with Tom Coller and Wayne Williams prominent, took play over the line, but Ruislip won the five-yard scrum and the position was lost. Thereafter, with the Vikings showing great discipline to retain possession, most of the play was in Ruislip's territory and what felt like a long 15 minutes was expertly navigated through.

Coach Nick Greenhall was delighted, saying afterwards: 'That was a great team effort.

'They showed outstanding resilience, adapting well to the different phases of the game.'

From a wide field of candidates, Will Hodgson was Chalk Hill Brewery man of the match.

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