Tough trip to Essex set to test Vikings’ mettle following big derby win

Hal Riley in full flight for North Walsham during Saturday's derby win over Diss at Scottow. Picture

Hal Riley in full flight for North Walsham during Saturday's derby win over Diss at Scottow. Picture: Hywel Jones - Credit: Archant

Following their comprehensive 53-19 defeat of local rivals Diss last week North Walsham are fully aware that this week's opponents Brentwood will be a totally different proposition.

Brentwood has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for the Vikings who have registered just one win and one draw in five visits, although a couple of the defeats have been by narrow margins.

The Essex side have had a good start to the season with a six from eight win record, with the defeats coming at the hands of Colchester and Amersham & Chiltern, and having conceded an average of 11 points per game they will probably be hard to break down.

With minimal knowledge of the game plan of the opposition coach James Brooks concentrates his efforts on the individual and collective strengths of his squad.

The usual selection questions will have to be addressed but up front they should be resolved by the return to action last week of Will Hodgson and the return this week of Lachlan Brown-Bates, who missed out through injury, and Todd Scotland who was unwell.

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One definite absentee from the back line is full-back Josh Brown who has suffered a non-rugby related shoulder injury but Brooks could draft in new signing Ben O'Hickey. He could also have the opportunity to blood another new arrival, from New Zealand, Lee Thomson at scrum-half.

The Walsham second XV, the Raiders, who suffered a 29-17 defeat against Diss Saracens last week, will be eager to get back to winning ways against Swaffham at Scottow (kick-off 2pm) and will also be subject to at least four changes as two players suffered concussion and will take the mandatory break and two, centre Adam Howe and wing Vilikesa Vurewa, picked up leg injuries.

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Although last week's Warriors (third XV) game was called off there is every hope that they will travel to Wymondham.

• Diss look to bounce back from their defeat to the Vikings with a home game against mid-table rivals Saffron Walden in London One North.

It will be just the fourth game at Mackenders of the campaign but they have been high-scoring encounters so far, beating Letchworth 47-41 but losing 50-14 to Brentwood and 47-43 to Eton Manor.

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