Staines 26, North Walsham 10
After successive games against the top three teams there was hope among North Walsham's travelling fans that the Vikings could come away with a bonus point if not a win to aid their relegation battle.
It was, however, not to be – despite a wholehearted effort from a team that is still developing.
The pitch was firm and ideal for running rugby, but there was a fierce wind driving into one corner and an opposition pack which considerably outweighed their visitors.
Staines won the toss and chose to give Vikings the first use of the wind. In the first quarter Vikings had plenty of possession, but were not able to create territorial advantage because their kicking was generally under pressure as a result of the early dominance of Staines forwards.
Only twice in first 20 minutes did the Vikings get into the Staines 22 metre zone. As half-time approached, the scrappy nature of the game resulted in yellow cards for Sandberg and Walsh – Vikings scrum half mixing it with an opposition prop,
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At this time Staines were putting Vikings under pressure, but at last a long relieving kick took play into Staines half and from a set scrum fly-half Jack Hoyles sold two dummies and ran 30 metres for a solo try under the posts. Harris drop kicked the conversion in order to reduce the influence of the wind.
Staines hit back with a try from a rolling maul with scrum half Robinson nipping round the blind side. From kick-off Staines were offside and Harris kicked the penalty for 10-5 at half-time.
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This was never likely to be a big enough advantage, and although it took 15 minutes for Staines to get the next score thanks to Vikings determination to hold their hard earned lead, they were gaining field position, with some effective line kicking.
Vikings defence, particularly the back row, worked extremely hard to keep Staines at bay and were able to get some attacking positions, once after a long solo break out from Hoyles, which came to an end when the stamina ran out.
But the half was dominated by Staines with tries from Junior Harrison who was driven over by sheer weight, Liam Shanahan, whose try came after quick recycling led to a 20 metre break by three unopposed forwards and, finally, from Staines No 8 Mursel – who was dominant all game.
The attritional nature of the game told at the end as all Vikings substitutes were used including Chris Godwin, returning after a 10-month lay off with injury. Vikings finished with 14 fit players when Stuart Loose was yellow carded.
The heavier and well-drilled Staines forwards gave their half-backs a sound platform, with influential fly-half Richard Mahony, formerly of London Welsh and Rosslyn Park, using his experience and composure to kick effectively with the wind.
This Saturday the Vikings travel to fellow strugglers Tring.