Vikings are on march
North Walsham made it seven wins from eight with this thoroughly deserved victory. The visitors arrived with an excellent away record of played three won three, claiming the bonus point on each occasion.
North Walsham 24, Hertford 12
North Walsham made it seven wins from eight with this thoroughly deserved victory.
The visitors arrived with an excellent away record of played three won three, claiming the bonus point on each occasion. They left Norfolk pointless, whereas the Vikings took the maximum five.
It was a bruising encounter, indicated by the referee adding on nine minutes to the second half and both sides making three injury substitutions. For the Vikings those included playing the final quarter without a specialist scrum-half as Arthur Delport was forced from the field with a leg injury.
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The game's two halves were very different and the scoring in them reflected how the game changed. The Vikings' 12-0 half time lead slightly understated their superiority, but Hertford came back strongly and it was 19-12, with the fourth try still unclaimed, as the game entered the last minute of normal time.
For the first time this season Jon Curry was able to field the same set of backs. In the forwards there was just one change compared with the eight who finished against Dings, Jacques Potgieter replacing Juan Pistone.
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The Vikings' intentions were clear at the outset and a move initiated by Ian Noble nearly resulted in a try. His pass put Chris Godwin into space and the winger raced 30 metres before putting in a clever kick. The ball came to Pena Sokia, who beat two defenders but was hauled down close to the line.
On 11 minutes the Vikings were rewarded. After good ball retention by the forwards, Noble saw a gap in the defence and darted through for a try which he converted.
Ten minutes later the lead was extended with a wonderful long distance try. Sam Herrington broke off a maul deep in Vikings' territory and made a 40 metre run. Iain Beck and Mike Howard were in support and slick passing sent the ball on to Noble, Sokia and Rob Clymer, who showed impressive strength and acceleration to break a tackle and race over from 25 metres.
The Vikings pounded away at the visitors' line for the last ten minutes of the half, but they held out, aided by some less than clinical finishing.
Hertford began the second half brightly and the Vikings initially struggled with the higher pace of the game. It was no surprise when, on 50 minutes, following sustained pressure, Hertford scored through a Simon Lawrence try which he converted himself.
Hertford continued to be the more dominant side, with Walsham disrupted by the loss of Delport who was replaced by Will Hughes, Tom Holt moving to scrum half. The Vikings, though, dug deep and in the 63rd minute scored a try from a seemingly unpromising position.
Hughes gathered a kick 10 metres inside his half and made ground before linking with Howard. Incisive passing then took the ball on to Sokia, Hughes again and then Gideon Rossouw, who sprinted 25 metres to score with Noble converting.
Leading 19-7 the search was on for the fourth try and the bonus point but Hertford refused to lie down. Six minutes later Luke Sloan went over for a try following some slack tackling and there were some concerned faces amongst the home supporters.
Play was now end to end but the Vikings were not to be denied.
In the 79th minute Beck won a five metre line-out and a perfectly executed rolling maul took Herrington over for the try.
This win, and results elsewhere, mean the Vikings are now just two points behind leaders Southend.