Walsham round off an encouraging season with hard-fought success

Ethan Benney powers forward during North Walsham's final league game of the season. Picture: Hywel J

Ethan Benney powers forward during North Walsham's final league game of the season. Picture: Hywel Jones - Credit: Archant

North Walsham turned in a solid display in their final league match to end the season in fourth place, their highest position since moving into London One North in 2014.

That was a cause for celebration, even if this match didn't quite produce the pace and excitement of the Vikings' previous two games.

After losing fly-half Jake Duffield to injury early on the Vikings edged in front after 15 minutes when Jono Lawson linked with Will Hodgson and drove over.

Old Priorians replied by slotting over a penalty and went ahead 10-5 when Michael Simpson made an interception from 30 metres out and touched down.

A rather turgid first half stuttered to a close with neither side creating opportunities, although the hosts had been strong in defence.

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The Vikings were first out of the blocks in the second half, playing with renewed vigour, and a Lawson, Acky Downing, Tim Weber, Hodgson sequence ended with a trademark Lawson lunge for the try line. James Knight converted, nudging the Vikings back into the lead at 12-10.

Old Priorians were now pinned back by well-placed kicks but the Vikings were unable to capitalise on this advantage. The ever-threatening Simpson gained possession and ran a good 45 metres before desperate defending five metres out prevented the opposition from scoring.

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Penalties continued to be traded back and forth, with neither side gaining an advantage.

The game's momentum seemed to be with Old Priorians before, against the run of play, Josh Brown kicked the ball forward and scored, with Knight adding the extras.

Old Priorians replied by slipping through the Vikings' determined defence, centre Elvin Grant scoring an unconverted try to make it 19-15. A repeat manoeuvre on the other side of the posts was thwarted by a try-saving tackle from Jordan Mustard.

Head of Rugby James Brooks was pleased with the win. He said that he had wanted the Vikings to work hard on defence but perhaps with this focus their attack had suffered.

He named Will Hodgson as the Chalk Hill Brewery man-of-the-match, saying he carried well and was superb in defence.

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