Saffron Walden 7, North Walsham 51
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham resumed normal service with a nine try bonus point victory over an under strength Saffron Walden side, with hat-tricks for wingers Shane van Vuuren and Freddie Henley-Hunter. As a result the Vikings are now 15 points clear at the top of London 2NE.
In heavy conditions and in a biting cross wind the forwards started well, Tom Coller, at lock, stealing opposition lineout ball, and props Aki Downing and Stuart Loose going well in broken play. Mark McCall got the scoreboard moving with a try off the back of a rolling maul which was unconverted.
Three minutes later van Vuuren, on a 40 metre run, cut back inside twice, to touch down, allowing Henry Dewing to add the two points.
Saffron tight head Roy Saunders was then replaced by Chris Beszant, before Henley-Hunter got his first try out wide and then just missed another score when his kick ahead went dead. After 28 minutes Beszant also had to retire, and with sub Joe Robinson without front row experience, this resulted in uncontested scrums for the rest of the game.
Henley-Hunter crossed again on the half hour, and also nine minutes later, with both tries unconverted.
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Pena Sokia came on for the dynamic Chris Godwin and Ben Campbell refreshed the front row before Will Hodgson went through the middle from Kurt Benney's pass, which was adjudged forward.
Full back Harry Downing then broke three tackles in the line to allow Hodgson over on the left, to leave the score 0-32 at the interval.
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Despite coach Nick Greenhall's half time advice of 'don't let up', the Vikings lost their way over the next 30 minutes, allowing Saffron Walden into the game, and centre Mark Kimberley scored a well worked try, which Tom Price converted.
Adie Ball was still running good lines in the centre and open side Luke Hickey was getting over the gain line before Andy Tibbatts and his team regained their composure in the last 10 minutes. Walsham No 5 Chris Kent beat his man for try number seven, before Sokia broke up the right flank for van Vuuren to take his second, the latter converted by Alex Graf-Grote, now on at scrum half in place of Dewing. To round off the revival, van Vuuren sprinted 50 metres up the right touchline to touch down for Graf-Grote to add the extras.
Vikings' thoughts were with Chris Borrett, who is out with a long term ankle injury, sustained in training.