Walsham ready for title challenge

North Walsham open their season tomorrow with a trip to Lydney - and opening fixtures don't come much tougher.Lydney on their own ground at any time of the season are a hard nut to crack - as Walsham's record of two wins from seven visits proves.

North Walsham open their season tomorrow with a trip to Lydney - and opening fixtures don't come much tougher.

Lydney on their own ground at any time of the season are a hard nut to crack - as Walsham's record of two wins from seven visits proves.

The most recent win was just last season when Walsham, having struggled to find form and with their campaign to all intents and purposes over, turned in an awesome performance to end Lydney's season-long unbeaten record with a five-try 34-27 win.

But with no form book to consult it is impossible to know what coach Jon Curry's side will face in their National League Division Three South opener.


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But Curry has prepared his squad well and most of the key personnel are fit, the only exception being prop Beyers Visagie (back).

However, he has three other props, Joe le Roux, Jake Titterington and John Parker, to select from. Iain Beck, Mike Howard and No8 John Kelly, missing for a variety of reasons last week, all trained on Tuesday and are likely to figure in the starting line-up.

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Two outings for Chris Godwin at openside mean he is more likely to be selected there throughout the season than he was previously in the centre; what he lacks in stature he more than makes up for in spirit and his tackle count.

By the latter stages of last week's friendly game the half-back pairing of Carel Swanepoel and Jamie Burroughs was beginning to flourish and could be retained, and developed, although Lee Sandberg and Cam Caine are likely to provide strong competition. The arrival of centre Adie Englebrecht provides a new dimension and he is likely to be the first choice kicker. Andy Thorpe will captain the side from full-back.

Elsewhere, after two successful warm-up matches against Norwich Union and Lowestoft & Yarmouth, Crusaders begin their new season campaign with an EDF first round Senior Vase match against Haringey Rhinos. Beccles are away to Fullerians in the same competition.

Holt host West Norfolk tomorrow in the last of their pre-season friendly games.

Coach Chris Fletcher again has a large squad to work with and will look to use them all in a number of combinations.

The team that starts takes the same format as the one that defeated Boston convincingly last weekend. Prop Duncan Richards is likely to start and appears to be the find of pre-season as he has put in a number of impressive performances in recent weeks.

Bill Parker took a knock to the head in training and is unlikely to feature, but ever-present Guy Roper is back to full fitness and will remain in his preferred tighhead berth. Another change in the pack is Simon Gibbs, who joins the mobile back row of Wright and Child, with Ashley Woods dropping to second row joining Amiss.

In the backs Bruce van Poortvliet and Joe Burn are looking good as the half-backs with van Poortvliet proving to be a real thorn in opposition sides with a number of tries already to his name.

Jo Buxton and Tim Allen make up the centre partnership with both combining hard running and tackling giving Holt a decent backline which will produce points.

"I am very pleased with how the pre-season campaign has gone so far, with the youngsters really stepping up to the mark. Back-rows Wright and Woods have really matured and look like being an asset to the club since they have stepped up to first team status," said Fletcher.

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