Match Report – Vikings Vs Henley, 2nd March 2024

03/03/20240

North Walsham Vikings 35 Henley Hawks 26

 

After a string of improved performances since the turn of the year the Vikings deservedly got their first win of the season in this enthralling nine try encounter. It looked bleak at halftime at 7 – 19, but three converted tries in the first twelve minutes after the break saw them surge ahead. Henley then got back to 28 – 26 setting up a tense final quarter, game in the balance until Tawanda Kandemwa scored to conclude the match’s final play.

Henley were soon into their stride pinning the hosts in their 22 but the defence was solid until the eighth minute when Tom Emery scored from a driving maul, a tactic deployed to good effect by both teams throughout; Jordan Oatley converted.

Undeterred the Vikings began to apply some concerted pressure themselves, making the score all square just before the end of the first quarter: a maul went 20 metres and, whilst that was repulsed, they patiently retained possession through five breakdowns before Billy Tait scored. Ross Magnus converted, the first of his five, three from out wide: a 100% record in challenging conditions.

Possession and territory was pretty even for the rest of the half, both sides keeping the ball in hand and willing, the Vikings particularly, to attack from deep. Scoring opportunities were rare, both defences sound, winning key moments. Ethan Holmwood won a Henley lineout deep in the 22, soon afterwards Lacons Brewery Man of the Match Tait came off the back of a five metre scrum to make 20 metres, a scrum penalty was won. The Vikings had some promising attacks too with Henly Brightman, Holmwood, Ewan Kingdon and Tait all prominent, but a mix of imprecision and Henley’s organisation saw them extinguished.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, three minutes before halftime, the deadlock was broken by a try for Oatley and to make matters worse he got a second one, which he converted, with the half’s final play. Both were the result of defensive errors which, like all quality sides, Henley exploited expertly.

Twelve points ahead at the break Henley began the second half by putting the Vikings’ line under pressure but the defence held and a relieving penalty won. This prefaced a remarkable ten minutes, the Vikings scoring three converted tries to put them 28 – 19 ahead. The first started ten metres inside their half, Harry Steward making a 40 metre run before passing inside to the ebullient Connor Dudley who scored. Then, after winning a scrum penalty, Holmwood was driven over from a well-executed catch and drive. Finally, Kingdon burst his way through three tackles in a 20 metre run coming off the back of a maul.

It had been raining heavily on an already heavy surface since halftime so by now the conditions for handling were becoming very difficult. Consequently, the tactics changed with more kicking, and passing restricted mainly to close quarters. Henley soon regained their composure and, using the aforementioned approaches took up residence in the Vikings’ half as the hosts conceded a string of penalties. Seemingly inevitably, in the 60th minute the gap was reduced to two, Alex Bradley the try scorer after a catch and drive.

The scene was thus set for a dramatic final quarter, tension writ large on supporters’ faces. Both teams however retained their composure, going through the phases as they searched for an opening and maintaining their defensive shape. Whilst Henley had their moments, as the minutes ticked slowly by the Vikings increasingly looked the likelier to score. Ten minutes out Dudley, Kandemwa and Kingdon nearly created a try from a blindside move, then after winning a scrum penalty and the consequent lineout a promising position was lost. Finally, right at the end, quick hands took the ball across the pitch for Kandemwa to get his tenth try of the season.

Unsurprisingly there were great scenes of celebration at the final whistle and beyond. “A richly deserved victory,” said Niall Lear. “The boys been improving week on week for a long time but the win has eluded us until now. They should feel very proud, they stuck at it and were the better team today.” Next week they travel to Canterbury.

 

Team: 15. Benji Hewitt 14. Harry Steward 13. Dan Smith 12. Ross Magnus

  1. Tawanda Kandemwa 10. Harry Langbridge 9. Connor Dudley 1. Tim Weber 2. Ewan Kingdon 3. Henly Brightman 4. Hudson de Lucchi 5. Ethan Holmwood 6. Leo Langbridge 7. Jobe Brooks 8. Billy Tait

Interchanges:

John Clarke/Weber (57 mins)

Danny Whittred/Brooks (66 mins)

Unused Substitutes: Alfie Coop, Mark McCall, Wes McGuire

Scorers:

      Tries: Tait; Dudley; Holmwood; Kingdon; Kandemwa

Conversions: Magnus (5)

Penalties:

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards:

Referee: Alex Rose

Paul Morse

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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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