Woodford 27, North Walsham 12
- Credit: Archant
North Walsham went down to only their second defeat of the season, by three tries to two, in a riveting encounter – but still remain top of London Division 2NE with a game in hand.
The Vikings showed seven changes from last week, yet strength in depth allowed them to be in contention until the final quarter, when they were eventually outmuscled up front.
Woodford started at a gallop, putting the visitors under pressure for the first quarter of an hour, but the Walsham defence was sound. Returning outside half Jack Hoyles was kicking well out of hand and Jon Younie made some good yards in the line from full-back.
The first score went to Woodford captain John Dwight with a penalty after his side had disrupted a Walsham scrum. Play then moved to the other end, when home No 8 Robbie Connell was yellow carded for taking out Chris Godwin without the ball. Home prop Elliott Kayser joined him in the sin bin two minutes later for stamping.
Will Quinn and Dom Roberts were carrying over the gain line and Dan Goodrich stood up well in the loose before Danny Berghan broke up the left, putting in Hoyles for a try out wide which Henry Dewing couldn't convert.
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Just before half-time, Walsham were too eager at the ruck, going over the top, and Dwight converted the penalty to leave the score 6-5 at the break.
Woodford lock Jack Sullivan touched down under the posts just after the restart, converted by Dwight, before Will Hodgson responded with a bustling run up the right wing, for Dewing to convert his try. Dwight then missed another penalty, leaving the score at 13-12 going into the final 20 minutes.
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James Knight continued to tackle well in the centre before Alex Graf-Grote came on at scrum-half. Dewing headed to full back and Tim Mason replaced Goodrich in the front row.
Increasing pressure on the Walsham goal line resulted in a yellow card for Berghan and eventually a penalty try to Woodford, converted by Dwight.
Luke Hickey replaced Chris Kent in the Walsham forwards for the final six minutes, allowing further progress up field, but no further score.
Vikings' coach Nick Greenhall felt the home side had carried well, kicked wisely and outmuscled Walsham, but was pleased his much changed squad had gelled together well, and had not conceded a fourth try.
Next Saturday sees a home league tie against tenth placed Stowmarket.