North Walsham Vikings 8 Old Albanian 35
An improved performance from the Vikings was still insufficient for them to earn those elusive first points, Old Albanian finishing up worthy winners running in five converted tries for their fifth victory of the season. The Vikings were 8 – 7 ahead after a first half hour they had dominated territorially, but 14 points for the visitors in the ten minutes before half time gave them a grip on the game which they were never going to relinquish.
OA were shocked to find themselves behind after just a minute, Harry Langbridge the try scorer after brother Leo had made a break and exchanged passes with Wes McGuire. Play for the first 15 minutes was almost exclusively in OA’s half, the visitors conceding a string of penalties, but the Vikings failed to create any clear scoring chances and basic errors cost them good positions. OA only threatened twice during this period, Benji Hewitt managed the first situation authoritatively whilst on the other Connor Dudley showed his skills dealing with a greasy ball emerging from a retreating scrum.
OA’s third attack though saw them clinically grasp their first scoring opportunity. The Vikings conceded a rare penalty on their 22: kick to the corner, five metre lineout and Charlie Fleckney scored from a well-executed driving maul, Sam Jones’ conversion giving them the lead after 16 minutes. Back bounced the Vikings but they continued to struggle to turn pressure into points. For example, after conceding a penalty OA survived two shortrange lineouts unscathed before the Vikings themselves were penalised. A 35 metre Ross Magnus penalty then regained them the lead just short of the half hour.
Play was fairly even for the rest of the half but OA grabbed their two scoring opportunities with aplomb. Fleckney’s second converted try three minutes after the penalty was a carbon copy of the first, then a minute before the break OA’s forwards patiently worked their way through a long series of pick and drives before Kennedy Sylvester scored, Jones again converting to make it 8 – 21.
The first half had been an exciting spectacle with both sides showing outstanding handling skills in difficult conditions. The second though was very different, with the heavy pitch taking its toll through dropped passes and slower breakdown ball. A minute in the Vikings lost their own scrum on their 22 but showed their defensive qualities, a three minute onslaught on their line going unrewarded. With their scrum increasingly struggling and a steady flow of penalties being conceded for a range of offences, the home side continued to be on the defensive, and it was no surprise when Jarryd Sage crossed for a converted try in the 52nd minute.
The Vikings enjoyed a brief better spell after that score putting together some promising moves, but any momentum was short lived and increasingly the game became bogged down in a series of set pieces, mainly in the host’s half. With ten minutes left OA, after some sustained pressure, completed the scoring with perhaps the best try of the game, Harrison Legg touching down following a deft kick through by Lewis Jones, Sam Jones converted.
Niall Lear was frustrated and pleased in equal measure. “Overall, it was the best we’ve performed this season against a good team, but we just weren’t clinical enough and we made too many errors which, at this level, get punished.” He named Hudson de Lucchi, prominent throughout offensively and defensively, as Lacons Brewery Man of the Match. Next Saturday it’s the East Anglian derby, Bury St Edmunds visiting Scottow Park.
Team: 15. Benji Hewitt 14. Wes McGuire 13. Dan Smith 12. Ross Magnus
- Harry Dye 10. Harry Langbridge 9. Connor Dudley 1. Callum Howe 2. Pieter de Lange 3. Tim Weber 4. Hudson de Lucchi 5. Billy Tait
- Leo Langbridge 7. Jobe Brooks 8. Charlie Fethney
Jamie Hooker/Hewitt (46 mins)
Tobias Sokia/Howe (46 mins)
James Baldwin/Tait (50 mins)
Russell Arnold/de Lange (53 mins)
Hewitt/Magnus (60 mins)
Howe/Weber (71 mins)
Tawanda Kandemwa/McGuire (71 mins)
Tries: Harry Langbridge
Referee: Alex Rose