Thurrock 25 North Walsham 15: Brave Vikings go down fighting on the road
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham dropped to sixth place in London One North after a narrow defeat at the hands of Thurrock during a pulsating match.
On a bright afternoon on a good pitch the Vikings struck first, with a lightning break by Josh Brown setting up wing Ethan Benney for a touchdown, which Matt Hodgson couldn't add to.
The scrums were evenly contested and the lineouts went with throw, before indiscipline set in and Walsham began to give away penalties. Thurrock centre Jake Barand converted two of these within three minutes for his side to take the lead, which they never relinquished.
Walsham lock Jono Lawson put in some good yards before his opposite number Jock Shaw was sent to the sin bin. Minutes later Matt Hodgson joined him, taking a yellow card for the team when not releasing in the tackle.
Vilikesa Vurewa tweaked his knee, to be replaced by Harry Downing, before Thurrock number five Andrew Nimmo crashed over for a try, converted by Barand.
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Barand missed a further two penalty kicks before his wing Troy Michie made a 35-metre dash down the left for try number two, which went unconverted, to leave Thurrock 18-5 ahead at the break.
Mike Hendry went over for a try immediately after the restart, which Matt Hodgson converted.
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Thurrock then twice went close through Michie and number eight Brad Retigan.
Ed Sampson replaced Lawson as Walsham threatened the home line, and Tom Coller received a red card for an offence which was not obvious from the touchline, leaving the visitors with 14 men for the final half hour of the match. Matt Hodgson rallied his side with a well-taken drop goal, as his brother Will continued supplying good lineout ball, before rotations saw Brown and Mark McCall go off to be replaced by Tim Weber and a restored Vurewa.
Weber upped the pace as both sides continued at full tilt, then Michie burst through for the third home try and Barand finished the scoring with a conversion in off the right upright.
Head of Rugby James Brooks was disappointed to come away with nothing, but couldn't fault the effort of his team, who although behind at half time came straight back into the game after the interval.
He felt there were some tough decisions made against his players in the second half, but he will look at the video.
Prop Tim Weber made an immediate impact from the bench and was named Chalk Hill Brewery man of the match.