Walsham hit back in style

Cinderford 26, North Walsham Vikings 32: Winning has never been everything for Jon Curry. He is not content to “win ugly”. He sets the bar high and expects the level to be reached each and every week.

Cinderford 26, North Walsham Vikings 32

Winning has never been everything for Jon Curry. He is not content to “win ugly”. He sets the bar high and expects the level to be reached each and every week.

So far this season's five from six win rate is one to be envied by many less successful clubs, but the performances have not matched the results and poor sides have not been despatched as they have in previous seasons.

A major factor has been the constant, but necessary changes due to a high injury rate and the inclusion of new players to the system. So it was no surprise that with seven changes, four of them positional, the early stages were a poor reflection of what the side is capable of.

For much of the first half hour the Vikings looked disjointed as they struggled to come to terms with the changes by which time they were had conceded a first minute penalty which fortunately fell short. It was to get worse before it got better. Three minutes in and a Walsham forward was penalised from breaking early from a scrum and Tristan Roberts had the score board ticking.

A brief Walsham flurry produced ended with a poor pass that was kicked up field and a neatly taken drop goal by Roberts doubled the advantage. Walsham were clearly struggling to get a grip of the game and passes were doing to ground or forward, tackles were being missed, penalties conceded and they were in danger of being only crucified by a side that failed to beat fourteen man Dings the previous week.

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Walsham's only attack of note in the first quarter ended with Sokia being bundled into touch at the corner flag. While at the other end try saving tackles by Sokia, Thorpe and Holt kept the line intact another penalty was conceded Roberts made it three from four. Poor restart ball handed the initiative to Cinderford and when Noble was hurried into a clearance kick it was charged down and Eric Maroni scored wide out.

Fourteen points adrift and the question was being asked: “How many more before the break". But then Walsham began to gel. The forwards led by Rossouw broke down the left the ball came to Chris Borrett who headed for the line, passed to Thorpe who with Holt in support dummied the defence, touched down and Noble converted.

Now it was nearly all Walsham, Borrett back at Scottow after a hard cricket season and refreshed by a short break began to bubble. Cinderford hoker Nigel Matthews was yellow carded for obstructing a penalty. Walsham took the lineout, piled forward and it was Arnold who emerged to claim his second try for Walsham. A dash down the left flank by Thorpe ended with an injury which sidelined the full back allowing Rob Clymer his second taste of league action. With the passes beginning to stick the moves began to flow but the final score of the half fell to Noble who completed a spirited turn round by converting a penalty for a single point interval lead.

It was not just the players who were lifted by the turnaround, the travelling support was more upbeat as with the breeze at their back the omens looked good. No-one however could have foreseen what happened next. From the kick off Walsham won possession on the left Groom broke the defensive line, Herrington pounded goalwards and Borrett on his right shoulder took the final pass and touched down under the posts as 30 seconds came up on the clock, Noble converted and Walsham were it seemed, back to their old selves and in control.

Cinderford lost their influential flanker Young to the sin bin. Walsham camped in the home side's half, Groom was held up short but eventually the ball was popped up to Noble who had little to do but flop over the line and then converted. Having been on the rack for twenty minutes Cinderford finally broke out of their own half and at this point the game could have swung back in their favour.

Walsham lost new boy Faleono Seve, whose contribution had been solid and had indicated that he will be an asset to the squad, was sinbinned and then scrum half Lee Sandberg picked up a leg injury. Phil Binneman came on to join the forwards with Pistone dispatched to the wing and Noble moving to scrum half.

As Seve returned, Ian Noble was sinbinned and Cinderford took the line out and despite some valiant defence flanker Isiah Young was driven over. Back at the other end Walsham were offered a penalty which Iain Young stroked over and in stoppage time winger Lee Douglas took advantage of a stretched Walsham defence to score in the right hand corner and Roberts' kick, the most difficult of the afternoon, earned his side a point.

Even if his side did not quite meet his targets, their performance in the middle third of the game must encourage Curry to believe that it will not be long before they do, and when that day comes there could be fireworks. Having gained the fifth, bonus point Walsham waited for the other results, and had difficulty believing that Southend had beaten leaders 81-16, doing the Vikings an enormous favour as despite the lost points they are still in fourth place just five points behind leaders Westcombe Park.