Vikings’ Renaissance Continues With 23-23 Draw at Wimbledon
It was another early start to Wimbledon. The coach left Scottow Park at 7.30. Unfortunately the intestinal virus which is going around North Norfolk had struck down Henly Brightman overnight and due to the early start a replacement front row could not be found to travel. So the team left with 19 players. On the bright side 5 were qualified for front row duty but I think three of them classed primarily as hookers so there would be a load on Tim Weber and John Clarke.
Never to be accused of being short of incident, on reaching Wimbledon up the A3 and nearing the ground the coach turned up a cul de sac. Driving down the cul de sac, no turning point could be found so we reversed 100m and backed out across a service road on to a busy A3. This necessitated a brave traveller, Simon Locke sans gilet jaune, descending to stop the heavy A3 traffic and let the coach reverse out. We eventually arrived at the ground at 12.15.
In the match the Vikings renaissance continued to a hard fought 23-23 draw.
It has been a difficult season for the Vikings so far, rebuilding after many players moved on for work, retired etc. leaving a mainly untested or geriatric squad to start the season. With 16 matches gone, all four league points have been gained in the last three games. With two of the points against top three teams. and 10 matches left (5 home, 5 away) in the season, this new, young, team is maturing fast. Make sure you take a look.
Starting with a solid Vikings scrum, after a short Wimbledon kick off, play moved into the Wimbledon 22 where they conceded their first penalty of many. This set the tone for the match.
The ensuing 15 minutes continued in similar vein. Possession and territory to the Vikings but no score. The spell then broke. Wimbledon swept into the Vikings’ half, caught Vikings offside on 30 metres, kicked the penalty for a 5 metre lineout, and drove over the line (unconverted) 5-0. On 25 minutes the Vikings transgressed again with a similar outcome. Penalty to touch, 5 metre lineout, driven over for Wimbledon’s second unconverted try 10-0.
Throughout the match the Vikings were boosted by the unstinting endeavours of Niall Lear’s Lacons Brewery man of the match Charlie Fethney.
The Vikings first score, on 35 minutes came from yet another penalty to the Vikings being put into touch about 8 metres out from Wimbledon’s line. Subsequent play drove the Vikings back about 15 metres before another Wimbledon transgression on their own 22. This penalty was popped over by Ross Magnus 10-3.
As the half wound down Wimbledon got a penalty 30 metres out, put the penalty in touch on the Vikings’ 5 metre line, won the line out and drove over for Wimbledon’s hooker Devlin Hope’s hat trick driven maul try. Wimbledon’s Edward Morgan’s conversion closed off the first half 17-3.
The Vikings faced an uphill struggle but started the second half brightly. From a 7 metre lineout excellent Viking interpassing was halted by an interception on the Wimbledon line. However, play was brought back for a 5 metre penalty for the Vikings. This led to another penalty close in on the other side of the pitch which the Vikings converted into a 5 Metre lineout. Unfortunately the lineout was adjudged not straight and Wimbledon cleared their lines from the scrum.
Soon after, in the 48th minute on Wimbledon’s 22 a quick penalty, taken by Connor Dudley, triggered a sweeping Vikings back move well finished by Tawanda Kandemna 17-8.
A little laater the Vikings were pressing close to Wimbledon’s line. A Wimbledon lineout was overthrown. Jobe Brooks got the ball, drove over the line but the ferocity of the defending tackle meant he was held up over the line and play went back for another Wimbledon penalty. Magnus added the penalty on 55 minutes 17-11.
Wimbledon restored a 9 point 20-11 lead on 65 minutes with a penalty.
Following the restart Dan Smith made a scintillating break up the right hand touch line. But this break was snuffed out with a penalty to the Vikings and a Wimbledon yellow card. Soon after this all led to Vikings’ Billy Tait going over for a converted try 20-18 helped by Magnus’ conversion going in off the post.
Wimbledon’s last score was from a penalty almost on halfway. Some in the crowd felt this attempt was to lock down the game and end it all. In actual fact when taken it flew true through the posts to bring Wimbledon’s lead to 5 points 23-18.
Finally came the best move of the match. Starting deep in their own half the Vikings swept up the pitch for Kandemwa’s second try. This was far out and the conversion fell short but left the final score 23-23.
After the match Director of Rugby Niall Lear said “We had a poor first half. But the boys proved their worth, came back strongly and drew a match which in the final analysis we really should have won.”
The return trip was interesting. The boys were pleased but not necessarily jubilant. There was a feeling they could, or even should, have won. But there was a rehydration stop to look forward to at the Angel Larling. We had a warm welcome from landlord Andrew and his staff. But some of the drinkers in the public bar were somewhat startled by the entrance of the Viking horde. Friends were soon made however.
It was well worth the long trip – I left the house at 7.00 and returned tired and emotional at 22.00 to find Evri had left the new clutch set I had ordered for my motorhome in the garage. A hard game fiercely contested in front of a meagre 120 spectators with very even scoring. Three forward tries driven in by Wimbledon with one conversion and two penalties. Three tries scored by the Vikings from good interpassing play with one conversion and two penalties.
I look forward to 10th place Sevenoaks at Scottow Park next Saturday. I also look forward to Wimbledon’s visit on 6 April. Let’s get behind the team and cheer them to some home victories.
North Walsham Vikings: 15 Benji Hewitt, 14 Wes McGuire, 13 Dan Smith(c), 12 Archie Bryan, 11 Tawanda Kandemwa, 10 Ross Magnus, 9 Connor Dudley, 1 Tim Weber, 2 Ewan Kingdom, 3 John Clarke, 4 Hudson de Lucci, 5 Billy Tait, 6 Peter De Lange, 7 Jobe Brooks, 8 Charlie Fethney. Replacements: 17 Ethan Holmwood, 18 James Douglas, 19 Harry Steward, 20 Alfie Coop
Substitutions: 41m Harry Steward for Wes McGuire, 47m Ethan Holmwood for Pieter de Lange, 53m Alfie Coop for Archie Bryan, 64M James Douglas for John Clarke
Yellow Card: 75m Ethan Holmwood
Tries: 48m, 78m Tawanda Kandemwa, 66m Billy Tait
Conversions: 67m Ross Magnus
Penalties: 34m, 54m, Ross Magnus
Referee: Neil Sweeney
Half time Score: 17-3
Full time Score: 23-23
Richard Hewitt 07825156875