Vikings are held in thriller
Ruislip 29, North Walsham 29: It is not often a side scoring five tries will walk off the pitch without taking all the points. But that is what happened to a Vikings side buoyed by their victory last week who travelled to Ruislip determined to take another stride forward.
First half injuries to Hodgson, (dislocated elbow) and Lockhart, (hamstring) meant further adjustments to an already changed side. Nick Greenhall replaced Hodgson and Chris Kent came in for Lockhart, with Tom Coller moving from the back-row to centre and Chris Borrett to full back.
The Vikings were quickly out of the blocks and scored a try wide through Adam Dye after just three minutes, with Lockhart adding the conversion.
Following a prolonged stoppage to treat Hodgson the Vikings continued to pressure the Ruislip defence. Dean Blyth, who had a busy afternoon, made an interception and with recycled ball from a ruck, Greenhall made a telling cross kick for Dye to collect and score wide out on the left.
The beginning of the second quarter saw Ruislip settling into the game and when a bouncing ball evaded the outstretched hands of a slipping van Vuuren wing Edwards had the simple task to pick up and score.
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A few minutes later van Vuuren received a yellow card for retaliating to a kick on the ground from Fynn, who also went to the sin-bin. Ruislip continued to up their game and on 23 minutes prop Woodstock scored a try and with Mathams converting the scores were level at 12-12.
The Vikings' pack, who as a unit played their best game of the season, earned themselves an attacking scrum on the half hour and with Blyth moving the ball to Greenhall, the centre jinked his way through the defence to score an unconverted try.
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As the game approached half-time Ruislip were awarded a penalty for a collapsed scrum and with Mathams making the kick the visitors had a two point advantage at the break.
The Vikings were again quickly out of the blocks and within four minutes of the restart Mark McCall powered over on the right, following a concerted effort by the pack, with Ethan Reed adding the conversion.
The Vikings pack continued with their high tempo pick and drive game and further good work from the forwards saw McCall again power his way over for an unconverted try.
With the game entering the final quarter Ruislip completed their three substitutions and upped their tempo. With the Vikings' team penalty count increasing Blyth received a team yellow with less than 10 minutes of the game remaining.
Ruislip lifted their attacking game, driving into and through the Vikings stretched defence, and two tries in the final five minutes from centre Grehan and prop Long, converted by Mathams, brought the scores level.
From the restart the Vikings recovered the ball and the forwards had one final thrust up field towards the Ruislip 22. Following several phases of recycled ball the ball was shipped back to Chris Borrett whose attempted dropped goal went agonisingly wide.
This was by far the Vikings' best performance of the season. The players were naturally disappointed at not being able to close the game out but they should be proud of their fighting spirit.