Match Report – Westcombe Park Vs Vikings, 17th February 2024

02/18/20240

Westcombe Park 47 North Walsham Vikings 39

 This felt as close as the scoreline suggests and more evidence of the progress the Vikings since the turn of the year. Park won the October game at Scottow 7 – 59 and something similar looked possible when the hosts took a 21- 3 lead after 15 minutes, but the Vikings bounced back to score six tries to Park’s seven, outscoring their opponents in the second half 12 – 24. It was a match they could well have won, Park, amongst the League’s highest try scorers, fortunate their kicker found his form kicking 12 points compared with his match average of six.

The Vikings went behind after two minutes Taine Wagstaff crossing after a catch and drive from a five metre lineout; Nathan Wyman made the first of his six conversions. To make matters worse they had to reorganise their pack, Charlie Fethney taking a nasty knock and having to be replaced by Ethan Holmwood with Billy Tait moving into the back row. Five minutes later a Lucas Atherton penalty got the visitors on the scoreboard but two more converted tries soon followed for Park. First Toby Wallace chased his own deft 30 metre kick to touchdown, then Wagstaff got a carbon copy of his first.

Park looked well in control, consistently crossing the gain line, offloading well in the tackle and using the maul effectively. Suddenly though the Vikings, who’d looked good ball in hand, began to go forward, pinning their hosts in their 22 for the next five minutes which ended with Hudson de Lucchi piling over direct from a 10 metre tapped penalty. Atherton converted to make it 21 -10 at the end of the first quarter which had amazingly been without scrums. Briefly the visitors were in the ascendancy, Atherton rattling the upright with a penalty.

The rest of the half ebbed and flowed but Park stretched their lead with two more converted tries from Wallace, either side of Tawanda Kandemwa’s eighth try of the season. This came after Wes McQuire and the Langbridge brothers had broken down the right and the ball quickly worked back across the field. Whilst they fully deserved to be in the lead, the 20 point halftime margin perhaps flattered the hosts.

Within seven minutes of the restart that gap was down to eight and the Vikings had a bonus point. Two minutes in the influential Harry Langbridge ghosted through a defence stretched by a patient buildup and slick handling. Then came a cracking converted try begun on their 22: Kandemwa took a high ball in heavy traffic, quick hands took the ball along the line, McQuire beat his man to burst clear then drew the final defender before finding Connor Dudley on the inside. A first victory looked possible but those hopes were dented within three minutes, Park’s first attack of the half ending with a try for Joe Ratcliff: 40 – 27.

With the pack more than matching their much heavier opponents at the set pieces and in the loose, the Vikings surged back, seven minutes later narrowing the gap to six. A penalty was drilled into the corner, lineout cleanly won, possession retained through six phases, try for Billy Tait; Atherton converted. Two minutes later, in a rare attack, that score was cancelled out, Wallace getting his fourth; Park were clinical about taking their scoring opportunities. 47 – 34 with 25 minutes left.

Remarkably those last 25 minutes of this pulsating encounter yielded just one score though it felt, with the visitors in the ascendancy, one could come at any time. With 12 minutes left, Harry Steward bounded over in the corner after a tapped penalty under the posts. That had been preceded by an outstanding move, the backs taking the ball 50 metres before Henly Brightman raced 30 more scattering defenders. Continuing to do the basics well, the Vikings kept searching for more scores but Park’s defence held out.

“The boys bounced back really well after last week’s disappointment and can be really proud of today,” said Niall Lear. “It’s frustrating though because we could have won; we scored some good tries and after those early scores defended well.” He nominated Brightman and Tait as joint Lacons Brewery Men of the Match. Next week Tonbridge visit Scottow.

 

Team: 15. Lucas Atherton 14. Wes McGuire 13. Dan Smith 12. Benji Hewitt 11. Tawanda Kandemwa 10. Harry Langbridge 9. Connor Dudley 1. Tim Weber 2. Ewan Kingdon 3. Henly Brightman 4. Hudson de Lucchi 5. Billy Tait 6. Leo Langbridge 7. Jobe Brooks 8. Charlie Fethney

Interchanges:

Ethan Holmwood/ Fethney (2 mins)

Danny Whittred/Brooks (50 mins)

Harry Steward/McGuire (50 mins)

Alfie Coop/ Hewitt (60 mins)

Brooks/de Lucchi (62 mins)

Russell Arnold/ Weber (75 mins)

Scorers:

      Tries: de Lucchi; Kandemwa; Harry Langbridge; Dudley; Tait; Steward

Conversions: Atherton (3)

Penalties: Atherton

Yellow Cards: Holmwood

Red Cards:

Referee: Jack Sutton

 

Paul Morse

180224

 

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