NWRFC Vikings 7 vs Worthing 45, 2 September 2023
Many Vikings players retired or moved away for work reasons this summer. Thus a much changed and very young Vikings team was fielded with debutants in double figures and eight under 21s in the team. Though one 43 year old had been summoned to the bench to boost the average age! In fact, I think, only four of the team which secured league 2 status in the last game last season at Canterbury were in the team. For this first match of the new season against last season’s fourth placed Worthing, supporting them was a brand new coaching team led by the new Director of Rugby Niall Lear.
Retrieving the Vikings’ kick off Worthing got away quickly, driving back to halfway. Then in the second minute they were awarded a penalty near halfway and kicked into touch about 15 metres from the Vikings line. Winning the lineout Worthing created a well-managed driving maul and convincingly drove the Vikings back the 15 metres for an unconverted Jack Dooney-Palmer try.
Restarting, the Vikings grasped the game. They defended fiercely close to the breakdown and wide out. Tackling fiercely, with Jobie Brooks and Ethan Holmwood making standout tackles near the breakdown, they dislodged Worthing ball in the tackle a couple of times, scooped up the loose ball and rapidly turned defence into attack. The attacks were very keen; Connor Dudley (and later Alfie Coop) was keen to run tap penalties from scrum half and at one point made over 30 metres. In addition, the Vikings seemed to be keen to hang onto the ball, drive it forwards, and only to kick in extremis.
In the 26th minute Russel Arnold and Callum Howe were rested until the 60th minute, being replaced by Frank Scott and Mark McCall, Mark responding to the call to arms for front row experience. Old stagers will remember 43 year old Mark McCall as a fearsome hooker/prop who had played many games for the Vikings before many of his teammates today were born.
Almost immediately Worthing’s Will Wriggleford broke free to score, converted by Louis Ellis. Five minutes later another Worthing tight driven maul gave a second try to Dooney Palmer.
Towards the end of the half the Vikings were pressing the Worthing line. They crossed the line but were held up. However, a minute or two later with a pushed over maul they secured an Ethan Holmwood try converted by Lucas Atherton on the stroke of half time. Mark McCall who was perhaps not as speedy around the pitch as in the past, toiled manfully for his shift in the murky regions of scrum and maul being a key player in the maul for the try. In fact, I thought he had scored it as it was a try of a type he had trademarked in the old days!
All this left the halftime score at 7-19 to Worthing.
The Vikings’ second half started well and cheered the crowd. Early in the half Connor Dudley initiated a great break. The ball ended up with Ethan Holmwood who thundered down the touchline to the raucous cheers of the crowd before a despairing tackle knocked him into touch in the Worthing 22.
Driving Worthing back to their own line, frequently catching Worthing offside as they did all match, they were unable to score.
Eventually Worthing’s Dan Sargent escaped to go the length of the pitch for a try in the 48th minute which was quickly followed by a try for Charlie Spencer.
At this point Jon Younie was substituted for Alfie Coop. This occasioned a reshuffle in the backs: Connor Dudley moving to stand off and Lucas Atherton going to fullback.
The scoring finished with two good long distance tries for Jack Forrest around the 66th minute exhibiting his speed and elusiveness.
Then for the last quarter of an hour the Vikings took a lot of possession and territory, but a second score was elusive, with Worthing defending manfully and repulsing all Viking advances.
The final score was 7-45 to Worthing.
A hard game deservingly won by Worthing but bestowing experience on the new Vikings players which will be valuable as the season progresses.
At the end, Director of Rugby Niall Lear named Jobie Brooks as Lacon Brewery Vikings Man of the Match for his defensive efforts. He said of the game “It was a solid start to the season. We have a young, untested, team and they will learn many lessons from this encounter.”
North Walsham Vikings: 15 Tom Younie, 14 Harry Dye, 13 Dan Smith(c), 12 Benji Hewitt, 11 Jon Younie, 10 Lucas Atherton, 9 Connor Dudley, 1 Callum Howe, 2 Pieter De Lange, 3 Russel Arnold, 4 Ethan Holmwood, 5 Billy Tait, 6 Tom Watson, 7 Jobie Brooks, 8 Charlie Fethney; Replacements: 16 Kit Brodie, 17 Mark McCall, Karl Ehret, Frank Scott, Alfie Coop
Tries: 40m Ethan Holmwood
Conversions: 40m Lucas Atherton
Drop goals: none
26m Frank Scott for Callum Howe, Mark McCall for Russell Arnold, 37m Hurt Ehret for Charlie Fethney, 48m Alfie Coop for Jon Younie, 60m Russell Arnold for Mark McCall, Callum Howe for Frank Scott, Jon Younie for Tom Younie, 74m Kit Brodie for Billy Tait
Worthing:15 Curtis Barnes, 14 Charlie Spencer, 13 Tom Derrick, 12 Jack Forrest, 11 James Maher, 10 Louis Ellis, 9 Will Wriggleford, 1 Ethan Clarke, 2 Jack Dooney-Palmer, 3 Dan Sargent, 4 Jack Lake, 5 Fraser Bruce, 6 Leo Ravaudet, 7 Joe Knight, 8 Frank Taggart Replacements: 16 Grant Gatford, 17 Harry Alexander, 18 Finlay Glass, 19 Iago Danes, 20 Tom Surrey
Cards: 5m yellow Dan Sargent
Tries: 2m Jack Dooney-Palmer, 26m Will Wriggleford, 31m Jack Dooney-Palmer, 47m Dan Sargent, 53m Charlie Spencer, 65m Jack Forrest, 68m Jack Forrest
Conversions: 26m, 31m, 54m, 66m, 69m Louis Ellis
Drop goals: none
Referee: Peter Connor, Assistants: Paul Clayton, Steve Milligan
Half Time Score: 7-19
Final Score: 7-45
Rugby Paper Star Player: Louis Ellis, Worthing