Match Report – Barnes vs NWRFC Vikings, 27 January 2024


Defiant Vikings gain try bonus point

The defiant Vikings’ were beaten 42-24 by Barnes. However they gained a try bonus point, greater confidence, and the respect of their coaches and travelling support for the spirit and continuing improvement of this young side.

The day started early, and in the dark, for Niall Lear and Derby Hooker who loaded all the team’s paraphernalia to the team bus for a 7.30 start from Scottow Park. It was to be a 14.00 kick off in Barnes. (Recent away trips have been victims to traffic and other delays resulting in late arrivals for away games so this was scheduled particularly early. Though I expect next week’s trip to Wimbledon will leave almost as early.)

Arriving in Barnes at about midday the bus faced a daunting approach to the clubhouse, changing rooms, and pitch. Barnes RFC clubhouse is about 30 metres down a narrow road lined with cars. The changing rooms and pitch are a further 5 minutes drive (at a stiff walking pace) past the London Wetlands Centre to the Barns Elm Sports Centre. It is a credit to our driver that he negotiated that part of the trip unscathed. The Sports Centre also houses the Barns Elm Beach Volleyball Centre which provided the boys with some pre-warm up entertainment.

The weather was mild, sunny, and there was a gentle breeze blowing diagonally across the pitch. The Vikings started the match with what breeze there was and the sun over their right shoulders. The only problematic feature was the fine layer of goose ordure covering the pitch, presumably a byproduct of the residents of the Wetland Centre.

The match started badly for the Vikings. Barnes kicked off, and immediately got the ball back from the Vikings. A swift back move gave them a try (converted as were all their seven tries). 7-0 in the first minute.

Ten minutes later Tawenda Kandemwa got his first opportunity to demonstrate his skill, strength and speed. Setting off in his own 22 metre area he made a good break, covered 40 or 50 metres to the Barnes rearguard before handing off the ball. Unfortunately a later pass did not go to hand and the ball was turned over.

On 20 minutes the Vikings were laying siege to the Barnes line. Showing great patience they developed enough space for Harry Langbridge to streak under the posts, converted by Ross Magnus 7-7. Barnes were giving penalties away and suffered a yellow card on 25 minutes. Meanwhile Director of Rugby Niall Lear’s Lacons Man of the Match Hudson de Lucci was beavering away tirelessly both in defence and attack.

There was a second Vikings’ clean break (from an interception) at about the 30 minute mark. Gaining 30 or 40 metres from their own 22 the final pass did not go to hand about 15 metres into the Barnes half with the try line beckoning.

As the half wound down Barnes took a driving maul 30 metres to the Vikings’ line. The try made the half time score 14-7.

The set pieces had been running fairly well. The lineout was firing pretty well and the tight scrum was holding well having garnered at least one penalty for the Barnes front row going up.

The second half also started badly for the Vikings. Retrieving the restart on their own 22 Barnes rapidly advanced to the Vikings’ 22. From there they scored a 41st minute try, 21-7.

From the restart John Clarke broke clear. A slick offload allowed speedier players to advance up the field where further offloads resulted in a Wes McGuire try, 21-14.

The Vikings struck again on 50 minutes making it 21-19. A 60 metre move with great interpassing while under heavy Barnes defensive pressure resulted in a fine Kandemwa finish.

In the 60th minute the game turned sour for the Vikings. Barnes put the Vikings line under sustained pressure. A two minute period resulted in two Vikings’ yellow cards and Barnes awarded a penalty try, 28-19. Barnes scored two further converted tries to extend their lead to 42-19

On 78 minutes Kandemwa scored his second try, 42-24. This gave the Vikings a bonus point end the match.

After the final whistle Director of Rugby Niall Lear was greatly encouraged by the performance. He said “The team is really beginning to build. We played exciting attacking rugby and defended strongly. However we need better consistency. National League rugby punishes any mistake harshly.”

It was a hard fought game. In defence the Vikings tackled hard and accurately for the most part. In attack the team seems to be gelling. Breaks are being made, offloads are working, ground is being made, and tries are being scored, just losing out on occasion to the inaccuracy of that final pass..

Unfortunately as Niall says it is the small mistakes which are now making the difference. Barnes were good at punishing the small errors and thus won deservedly. After gaining bonus points from second and third in the table in their last two games I am looking forward to how the Vikings perform against thirteenth in the table – Wimbledon – next Saturday.

North Walsham Vikings: 15 Benji Hewitt, 14 Tawanda Kandemwa, 13 Dan Smith(c), 12 Ross Magnus, 11 Wes McGuire, 10 Harry Langbridge, 9 Connor Dudley, 1 John Clarke, 2 Ewan Kingdom, 3 Tim Weber, 4 Hudson de Lucci, 5 Billy Tait, 6 Peter De Lange, 7 Leo Langbridge, 8 Charlie Fethney; Replacements: 16 Henly Brightman, 17 Kurt Ehret, 18 Tom Watson, 19 Lucas Atherton, 20 Harry Steward

Substitutions: 56m Henly Brightman for Tim Weber, 67m Harry Steward for Wes McGuire, 75m Tom Watson for Leo Langbridge, 75m Lucas Atherton for Benji Hewitt, 79m Kurt Ehret for Billy Tait

Cards: 58m Dan Smith yellow, 60m Connor Dudley yellow

Tries: 23m Harry Langbridge, 42m Wes McGuire, 49m, 78m Tawanda Kandemwa
Conversions: 24m, 43m Ross Magnus
Penalties: none
Drop goals: none
Referee: Tom Bird
Half Time Score: 14-7
Final Score: 42-24

Richard Hewitt

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At North Walsham Rugby Club, our 1st XV (Vikings) are playing at National 2 level. Mini and Youth Rugby caters for Under 6s to U18s. Three Senior Men’s teams. Senior Women’s in affiliation with UEA ladies rugby. Four Girls teams Under12s, 14s, 16s and 18s.


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