Walsham aiming to shake losing habit

NATIONAL 3 LONDON & SE: Newly-promoted Staines are the visitors to Scottow tomorrow as North Walsham look to halt a run of four successive league defeats.

Staines – comfortable winners against Diss last weekend – beat Civil Service to the title by a point last season, after finishing as runners-up in the previous two campaigns.

Although there is no league history between the clubs there have been a couple of meetings in cup games, both down in Middlesex, and both times Walsham came out on top.

This, however, will be a totally different meeting as Staines are in fifth position, albeit 10 points adrift of the teams above them, having won four of their seven games. The Vikings have continued to struggle at the wrong end of the table.

Although Walsham were well beaten last week, it was generally agreed that Ampthill were the strongest of the sides they have met so far. The Vikings, for long periods, did not play like a side in the lower reaches of the table.

Coach Nick Greenhall will be without scrum-half Lee Sandberg, who is on duty with the Swedish team in Zagreb, and his place could be filled by Alex Graf-Grote or Neil Peacock, who made his full debut last week. Although playing out of position on the wing, Peacock looked confident and well worth his place in the side and with scrum-half his favoured position, he should be able to showcase his skills in front of a home crowd.

With Jamie Burroughs sidelined for a second week, the centre partnership of Adie Ball and Jack Hoyles is likely to continue. Hoyles, making just his second start last week, impressed with his flair and composure and his early try showed great maturity.

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Iain Young has filled the number 10 shirt for a couple of weeks but if, as expected, Rhys Davies-Horne is home for the weekend, he could move into the back line to replace the unavailable Shane van Vuuren.

Grant Furlong is available this week so he will be competing for a slot in the second row with Josh Reeves and Leon Davies. There is a spot in the squad for Ewan Wilson who moved over from Norwich in the close season and he could be in line for a long delayed debut.

Also named in the squad is full-back Warren Abrahams who has been out with injury but his training has been restricted so Greenhall may decide to keep him under wraps for another week.

The Raiders, who had to call off their visit to Rosslyn Park last week, host Staines' second string, but with injuries and non-availabilty depleting numbers, the Warriors have had to concede the game and Merit table points to scheduled opponents Holt.