Thurrock 52, North Walsham 25

North Walsham came away from Essex with a hard earned bonus point after giving high-flying Thurrock a decent run of their money.

Whilst there were again lots of points conceded the commitment and attitude of all the squad, coaches and support staff was heartening. To battle right to the end and get something against the league leaders on their own ground was no mean feat. Sadly the euphoria was curtailed by the news that Rochford Hundred, the side immediately above the Vikings, had beaten Colchester.

For the hardy followers it was clearly going to be long afternoon as Thurrock charged down a kick to score under the posts and lead 7-0 within three minutes. The visitors immediately hit back though when the Thurrock forwards infringed and Borrett put the penalty over.

There then followed a period of Walsham play that was difficult to explain. Whilst staring to dominate the scrummage and disrupt their opponents' lineout they contrived to concede two further converted tries, on each occasion being caught out by chips over the top from the base of rucks and mauls.

With only 16 minutes gone and now 21-3 down there was the fear of heads dropping, but this was not the case. A penalty was kicked to the corner where the forwards, well marshalled by Fowles, drove the ball on several times, dragging in the Thurrock backs before releasing it out. Displaying great composure the backs calmly committed the remaining defenders to get Austin over the line to make it 21-8.

Aware that they were being outplayed up front, Thurrock threw everything wide and despite some big tackles from Tibbatts and Van Vuuren they scored another try.

Quickly back into the Thurrock half, the Walsham forwards again gained the upper hand. Penalties were being conceded regularly and on the try line a yellow card was given and Walsham opted for a scrum. A concerted drive took them over the line for Tibbatts to score, making it 28-13.

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A long clearance from the restart was fielded by the Thurrock winger whose pace took him to within metres of the try line for his perfectly timed pass to be knocked on by his supporting teammate. At the resulting scrum Walsham were penalised for talking to the official and they too lost a player to the sin bin. There then followed a purple patch from the home side, who ran in three tries from open play with some wonderful passing and handling but again aided by some weak tackling.

Now 47-13 down Walsham again kept battling away. The forwards continued to dominate and they worked their way up field with great patience and control. With the backs tightening up their defence, all 15 players combined to get the upper hand and when a quick ball was released Hyde showed his ability to run and glide through to score a try close in that Borrett converted.

A turnover then put the ball into Walsham hands and on to the attack, taking it to a metre of the try line and a bonus point try. Unfortunately the ball was lost and Thurrock broke out to the halfway where the ball was kicked on for a race to the line. Forrester got there first but the referee adjudged another try.

Thurrock again set about running the ball, only to be met by a determined band of Vikings on the 22m line who drove them back to the 5m line where a penalty was conceded. Kicked to touch for a lineout, Thurrock conceded penalties twice more for the same to be repeated. With Coller taking each throw the icing on the cake was achieved when Mark McCall burrowed through for that four try bonus point.

n North Walsham Raiders won 31-25 at Wymondham II.

Tries for Angus Briggs and Harry Downing put the Raiders 12 points up but Wymondham struck back and at half-time the lead was down to two.

Injuries had reduced the Raiders to 14 at the break but Briggs got his second and Dean Blyth's touchdown took the score to 24-10. Again the home side narrowed the gap with two touchdowns but with the Raiders now down to 13 Billy Graham-Park made it 31-20. Despite Wymondham pressing and scoring once the Raiders held on. The conversions came from Harry Downing and Billy Graham-Park (2)