Walsham throw away early lead
A delayed journey and late arrival did little to help and then some poor decision making, lack of cohesion and continuity on the field, along with a strong and determined opposition contributed to their worst league result, in points terms, for four seasons.
Southend 41 North Walsham Vikings 29
This was a bad day all round for North Walsham. A delayed journey and late arrival did little to help and then some poor decision making, lack of cohesion and continuity on the field, along with a strong and determined opposition contributed to their worst league result, in points terms, for four seasons.
They matched Southend try for try, with five apiece and the key to the scoreline difference was the kicking of the home side's full back Andy Frost who, in addition to converting all the tries, added a couple of penalties from five attempts .
As expected Jon Curry made changes with Jacques Potgieter coming in at open side, Lee Sandberg at scrumhalf, new signing Matt Bekker on the right wing and Mark McCall for the unavailable Gideon Rossouw.
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Walsham went ahead when a pin point throw from McCall was taken by Iain Beck, the drive crabbed towards the posts, and the hooker claimed the touchdown and Ian Noble converted.
Before Southend could re-group the Vikings were further ahead as Andy Thorpe broke from midfield, the ball was moved left, Will Hughes popped the ball to Potgieter and then executed a neat loop, taking the return and scoring in the corner.
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Twelve points ahead in less than as many minutes and the prospects looked good but the Seasiders struck back immediately. A penalty lineout drive was well defended by the Walsham pack, but when the ball was released to the backs centre Faapulou Soolefai strolled through to touch down.
By the end of the first quarter the lead was lost, never to be regained, when an interception on half way saw Frost touch down and then add the extra points.
From then until half-time Walsham's performance was quite frankly, forgettable and the standard of some of the rugby played was well short of their capabilities. The home side went further ahead in stoppage time when No8 Chris Waring crashed over and the conversion made it 21-12 at the break.
Southend soon stretched their lead after the break with a couple of penalties minutes.
Belatedly the Vikings then began to pick up their game and although it was less than fluid they were playing their best rugby of the game. Bekker showed good pace down the flank before the ball went wing to wing for Thorpe to touch down, Noble's conversion bringing the gap back to eight.
Having worked their way back into the game Walsham then switched off. The referee awarded a penalty to Southend in front of the posts and, assuming a kick at goal, the entire side could only stand and watch as wing Jack Wiggins took the tap option and scooted in unopposed, Frost kicked the extras and the game was all but out of sight.
The lights came on again for Walsham as Bekker was stopped just short before Thorpe, one of the few to play to his normal level dived in for his second.
Suddenly it was the home side that was on the back foot as Walsham swung the ball along the line and teenaged flanker Deaglan Hall took the final pass to score his maiden try.
Southend lost skipper Isaac Cook to the sin bin for stamping and Walsham had a golden opportunity to level the scores but messed up a five metre line-out and the chance was gone.
With the final play of the game Southend stormed down the left, Soolefai joined the drive and claimed his second score and Frost climaxed a sound kicking performance converting from the touchline.
A four try bonus was small consolation for the Walsham players who knew that they had underperformed and let their normal high standards drop.
They now have to re group, put this one in the locker and prepare for next week's visit of Bridgwater & Albion.