Vikings Match Preview v Canterbury (A) – 09/03/24

03/07/20240

CANTERBURY v NW VIKINGS 09.03.24 PREVIEW

It’s an early start for North Walsham Vikings this Saturday as they head off on a 350 mile round trip to Canterbury. Buoyed by last weekend’s 35 – 26 win over Henley they will be looking to avenge the 10 – 54 defeat the Kent side inflicted on them at Scottow in November. At halftime in that game the Vikings were very much still in it at 10 – 16 but the visitors, with their pack dominant, ran in six second half tries, three in the first 15 minutes after the break. They lie eighth in the table with nine wins from 20 and have lost their last three against promotion contenders Barnes and Dorking and, more surprisingly, Westcombe Park.

“Canterbury have a deep and experienced squad,” said Niall Lear. “Even by the standards of this League their pack is huge. They are also very mobile and good at set pieces; they are going to be a handful.” Their leading try scorers are all forwards, perhaps indicative of their style of play. Experienced hooker Nathan Morris (ex-Blackheath, London Welsh & Wasps) has 13, and flanker Eoin O’Donaghue and second row James Stephens six apiece. No back has scored more than five. In fly half Frank Reynolds, who averages 10 points per game from the tee, they have the league’s leading points scorer and someone adept at controlling matches.

Niall is not expecting many changes to the squad that won last weekend, save that Russell Arnold is likely to be included. He commented, “the boys richly deserved that win, they’ve been improving week on week for a long time now. They’ve taken a lot of confidence from the victory but know they’re going to have improve again to be competitive for 80 minutes this week,”

This is only the sixth match between the two Clubs. After two games in 2007 – 8 they didn’t meet again until last season when Canterbury won both times: 22-38 at Scottow, 52 – 38 in Kent. The latter, on the final weekend, saw the Vikings get the bonus point needed to retain National League status.

Paul Morse

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