Walsham go through after tough battle
Tony MarcantonioNorth Walsham 13, Beccles 0: Sometimes cup games provide excitement and occasionally David beats Goliath. Not this time though. The rugby on offer largely matched the weather - dull and uninspiring - and the senior side deservedly made their way into the semi-finals of the Woodforde's Norfolk Senior Cup, beating a game and resolute Beccles.Tony Marcantonio
North Walsham 13, Beccles 0Sometimes cup games provide excitement and occasionally David beats Goliath. Not this time though.
The rugby on offer largely matched the weather - dull and uninspiring - and the senior side deservedly made their way into the semi-finals of the Woodforde's Norfolk Senior Cup, beating a game and resolute Beccles.
The lure of international rugby on the television meant that the crowd was sparse by normal standards and those that stuck it out to the end in the dank cold conditions deserve as much credit as the players.
The relative positions of the sides in the rugby pyramid may have pointed to a home banker but the Vikings were made to fight all the way, their tries coming in the first and last minutes, although the final result was never in doubt.
The intention of the Walsham coaches to field their strongest side was negated by mass call-offs, resulting in the side showing eight changes from that selected for last week's game. Further disruption followed when second row Ian Webster limped out of the warm-up with a pulled thigh muscle.
Walsham were quick to put points on the board when, from a line-out, Tom Coller, outstanding all afternoon, took the catch and dropped the ball into the hands of Pena Sokia who blasted his way through the defence to score.
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Beccles fought back and had a penalty attempt but Luke Wade's well struck kick hit the top of a post and rebounded into Walsham hands.
Justin Keyser made a good break from the back of the scrum but what Walsham lacked in attack was more than compensated for by their defence and good work by Loose and Ball held the line. Neither side was able to build a platform but the visitors were well drilled and were able to thwart the efforts of Walsham's makeshift back line, although both youthful wingers Sam Rhodes and Matt Jarry-Ryan were able to show some nifty footwork and Ross Nicholson, making his first start for the senior side, impressed with his tackling and ball carrying.
Walsham lost Iain Young on the half hour with a hand injury and had to re-shuffle the back line, and the remainder of the half was mostly forgettable.
Chris Borrett made his entrance from the bench after an absence of two and a half seasons and showed the old pace and sidestep is still there. Beccles lost flanker David Rix to the sin bin but Walsham were unable to take advantage of the extra man, although most of the second period was played in Beccles' territory. Borrett put Rhodes into a gap and he made good yardage before Adie Ball was stopped five metres out but soon increased the lead with a penalty.
Although Beccles never really looked likely to cross the Walsham line they hammered away and showed why they are challenging for promotion, but always found one defender too many.
Tony Kingsmill made his return with 10 minutes to go as replacement flanker. With time running out Sokia made a break from the back of a scrum five metres from his own line and scorched upfield and started what was to be the final but most impressive phase of the game. A couple of driving mauls close to the line brought no success but a third ended with Soul Phoenix claiming the score just before the final whistle.