Woodforde’s Norfolk Cup: Diss 22, North Walsham 10
Diss ploughed through the Mackenders mud in impressive fashion yesterday to deservedly lift the Woodforde's Norfolk Cup.
The hosts won the battle up front to grind their rivals into submission on a pitch saturated by days of heavy rain, with two first half tries from speedy youngster Shaquille Meyers setting up the victory.
North Walsham gave their all just a week after the bitter disappointment of relegation, and briefly threatened a comeback after the break when Will Hodgson touched down.
But the side who comfortably out-performed them in London 1N this season always appeared to have enough in the tank to haul themselves over the line – and so it proved, with two second half penalty tries confirming their superiority.
'It was good to see all our hard work pay off out on the pitch today,' said triumphant skipper Matt Richards. 'We knew that whoever wanted it more was going to win it at the end of the day. It's a fitting reward after a long, hard season.
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'We kept it tight, as we knew we had to in the conditions, and just stuck it out.'
The captain played tribute to his side's two-try hero, adding: 'It was pleasing to see Shaquille make an impact. He has been about the place a lot but this is just about the first time he has played for us because of all his other commitments. He did really well and hopefully he'll be available a lot more next season.'
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With a large crowd looking on after the official opening of the new clubhouse facilities at Bellrope Lane, Walsham were the first to threaten but after working themselves into a promising position a penalty from James Forrester was way off target.
For the remainder of the opening quarter it was generally Diss in the ascendancy and the deadlock was eventually broken on 20 minutes when Meyers, who has represented England at Schools and Colleges level, darted over in the corner after some intense home pressure.
Chris Beaird was off target with a difficult kick from the cloying mud but five minutes later David Treglown showed it was possible to bissect the posts when he converted a penalty from an admittedly easier position to pull three points back.
That was as close as the visitors ever got to getting their noses in front, with Meyers' second try arriving on the half hour mark. This time the No 7 pounced on a loose ball after good work from Deaglan Hall and touched down on the other side of the field, with Beaird again missing a difficult kick.
Diss were 10-3 up and looking good but the yellow carding of the influential front row forward Tim Groom for a missed punch was an untimely setback just before the break, and the Vikings piled on the pressure as the whistle approached, with a misplaced pass eventually letting the hosts off the hook.
Walsham also started the second half strongly, with Treglown's penalty attempt off target, but the yellow carding of Hodgson for not retreating set them back and Diss began to lay siege to the visitors' line.
Referee Dave Speck awarded several penalties as Walsham used illegal methods to prevent a pushover and after Stuart Loose had been sin-binned the official eventually lost patience and awarded a penalty try, which Beaird converted, to stretch the Diss lead to 17-3 after 65 minutes.
To their credit the Vikings refused to let their heads drop and briefly threatened a comeback when they finally managed to cross a well defended Diss line.
Hodgson benefitted from a successful line-out to touch down under the posts, with Treglown adding the extras to bring the visitors to within a converted try of parity with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
When home No 9 Will Farrer became the fourth player to see yellow one sensed Walsham had a real chance but the impressive Diss forwards then simply rolled their sleeves up and saw their side over the line.
With full-time approaching they were firmly encamped near the opposition try line and with the defence becoming increasingly desperate, and the penalty count rising, a second penalty try provided the icing on the cake for Diss, with Beaird's missed conversion attempt of no consequence.
Walsham coach Nick Greenhall conceded afterwards that the final result was a fair reflection of the game.
'The muddy pitch didn't help us at all but, all credit to Diss, they played the way they have being playing all season. They kept the ball well, had more possession and more territory than us and deserved to win.
'I expected the lads to fight all the way through to the final whistle and to be fair they did – the atmosphere and the culture we have got at this club will always ensure that.'
• Diss: Richards, Bray, Groom, Abercrombie, Crotty, Rodgers, Meyers, Hall, Wilby, Seward, Wishart, Peacock, Farrer, Winslet, Beaird. Reps: Chartier, Holt, Cooper, Paske, McQueen.
• North Walsham: Loose, Campbell, Praat, Hamilton, Kent, Coller, Hegarty, Tibbatts, Hardisty, Forrester, Wilson, Hyde, Hodgson, Borrett, Treglown. Reps: Mason, Roberts, Henley-Hunter, Graham-Park.