Walsham unable to hold on to lead

North Walsham 12, Brentwood 19: North Walsham were unable to hang on to a half-time lead in their latest London 1N match, going down to Brentwood by three tries to two, but they did pick up a losing bonus point.

Walsham, unbeaten in their previous two league games, had put out a very strong pack, including returning tight head Ben Campbell, but against much heavier opponents lost a couple of early strikes against the head.

Brentwood applied the initial pressure, outside half Daniel Whitehead seeing a drop goal attempt drift wide. However, following a break by Viking lock Chris Kent, the ball went through several pairs of hands before Adam Dye touched down to the left of the posts, Ethan Reed duly converting. Walsham were taking good line-out ball at the back, courtesy of Tom Coller and Gerald Hegarty, but neither side was able to advance far enough over the gain line because of vigorous tackling. Reed missed a penalty just before the half hour, and Kent made another line break, but the final ball went astray.

Brentwood, despite having a player in the sin bin, recycled the ball to Jonathan Wylie who put wing Scott Dowler in for a try just before the break. Whitehead was unable to convert, leaving the Vikings ahead at the interval.

Early in the second period, the ball went out along the Walsham line, and was then passed back inside to Chris Godwin, who sped through the gap to score, Reed missing the conversion. Adie Ball, back after a break, then replaced Tony Kingsmill in the centre.

Brentwood now began to apply relentless pressure, taking strikes against the head and pinching the home line-out ball. Second rows Josh Woodcock and Tom King were prominent in the repeated picks and drives six metres out from the Vikings' line. Woodcock appeared to have touched down, but the referee was unsighted.

Hegarty took a yellow card before Brentwood wing forward James Metcalfe touched down. This was disallowed by the referee who had already awarded a penalty to the visitors, but two minutes later the latter were awarded a penalty try, Whitehead converting, to bring the scores level.

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The pressure kept coming, despite heroic defence from Shane van Vuuren at full back. Into the last quarter Whitehead struck a penalty, which bounced back off the crossbar into the arms of Dowler who crossed for a try under the posts. Whitehead was successful with the conversion.

Walsham were now stung into a barnstorming final eight minutes, applying their own relentless pressure at the other end, captain Iain Beck leading by example. Despite conceding a string of penalties, and clattering runs from Kent and Nick Austin, Brentwood held out.

Next Saturday sees a vital game at bottom of the league Braintree, before the much anticipated home pre-Christmas derby game against Diss on December 17.