Walsham youngsters far from disgraced
Bridgwater 33, North Walsham 14With North Walsham having a completely new set of backs, missing key defender Chris Godwin and top try scorer Andy Thorpe, a repeat of last week's stunning win was always a slim prospect.
Bridgwater 33, North Walsham 14
With North Walsham having a completely new set of backs, missing key defender Chris Godwin and top try scorer Andy Thorpe, a repeat of last week's stunning win was always a slim prospect.
So it turned out, but the scoreline does not reflect the effort expended by the players throughout.
Amazingly Jon Curry, with three matches of the season remaining, was, for the first time, able to field the same pack and halfbacks as the previous week, an indication of the problems he has had to overcome to keep his side in the top half of the table.
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With Godwin, Thorpe and Jimmy Bardgett all unavailable he called up two of the successful Colts side, full back Barry Frost and wing Simon Carty for their debuts. Their inclusion brought the average age of the team down to 22 years and 10 months, almost certainly the youngest Walsham side to take the field for a league game.
In sharp contrast to the abortive trip in January, the swamp like conditions had changed into something akin to a dustbowl, ensuring that the game would be played at pace.
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Two minutes into the game the home side were awarded a penalty on half way but an injudicious comment to the referee saw it advanced to within kicking distance. Christian Wulff took the points but he, and later Andrew George, failed with each of their six further efforts. The lead was stretched to eight when the ball was spread to the left and hooker Simon Hafoka exploited the overlap to touchdown.
Walsham struck back when a big tackle from Gideon Rossouw was rewarded with a penalty, taken quickly by Sam Herrington who with Mike Howard in support broke through, shrugged off a tackle to touchdown and Iain Young from wide out on the right converted.
The score settled the Vikings and they began to play some nice rugby, a blindside break at a lineout by Sandberg and Hall showing real flair.
Walsham suffered a double blow, with Rossouw and Stuart Loose both yellow carded for alleged for dissent. The resultant penalty lineout was speedily driven over and prop Andy Isaac claimed the score.
With Walsham back to full strength early in the second half, it looked as though they would take control when they took the lead through Iain Young.
Mike Howard, again superb in the line-out, secured the ball on the 22. Sandberg, de Stacpoole and Holt moved the ball to the wing and Young chipped the cover and took the bounce to score behind the goal and add the conversion.
The lead was shortlived as three minutes later, winger Jon Edwards scored and then at regular intervals, Wulff, replacement prop James Bryant and Shane Kingsland added their names to the scorers' list. With little to be lost or gained, Curry gave all his replacements a run-out.
Despite the result there were many positives to be taken from the game - Deaglan Hall's dynamic running off the line-outs, Young's improved defence, Harry de Stacpoole's growing maturity, the contribution of Frost and Carty and of course the old hands up front, who continue to perform at a high level.