Vikings 15 Fullerians 15 Report from Sebastian Sutcliffe
Vikings and Fullerians fight out entertaining draw
The Vikings played out a thoroughly entertaining draw at soggy Scottow against a well-organised Fullerians team who relished the soft ground.
It was cold, the pitch was heavy, and there was a light drizzle soaking players and fans alike as North Walsham kicked off following the minute’s silence for Irmi Howard. The Vikings took immediate control: a penalty was kicked to touch, the line out was won and Lachlan Brown-Bates assisted by Dane Canning took the ball over for the first try, Jake Duffield narrowly missing the conversion. 5-0
The Vikings were still in control on 15 minutes when they scored their second – but final – try. Tom Younie made inroads down the left, Chris Godwin caught a Fullerian line-out ball that missed the catchers, forward pressure built and Will Hodgson carried over; Duffield managing this kick. 12-0
North Walsham were in calling the shots, but it was true that the game hadn’t really caught fire yet. Players were moving at training game pace, going through the motions. The second quarter saw both teams start to get more ambitious and the tempo raised. Fullerians were playing themselves into the contest, and their pack started to take control of the set pieces. The more pressure the Fullerian forwards put on their Viking counterparts, the more penalties were conceded. On 38 minutes a Fullerian scrum moved dangerously close to the North Walsham try line, Fullerian No.8 Barrett peeled off the back and over the line for 12-5, his colleague Fawssett missing the conversion. Half-time: 12-5
Fullerians’ heavy pack was making good use of the heavy ground, and the more nimble Vikings were getting bogged down. The second half began with Fullerians taking control of the pace of the game, and the Vikings had to work hard to keep them out. Even their resourceful defending wasn’t enough on seven minutes. A rare North Walsham turnover gave Mike Braans a chance to clear, but he knocked on. The Fullerians dominated the resulting scrum and their lock Boyd carried the ball deep into Vikings territory where scrum half Hancock finished off the move. Fawssett converted to tie the scores with Fullerians looking strong. 12-12
It was fascinating rugby, but it was all Fullerian pressure with the Vikings barely making the opposition half. On 26 minutes try-scorer Miller was yellow carded with Vikings seemingly at breaking point: and yet their defence held. Finally, on 30 minutes Duffield’s kick made it to the Fullerian half and his follow up steal gained possession. Fullerian frustration of not turning pressure into points caused a mass brawl to began ten metres from the Fullerian try line! The referee sorted out that mess without resorting to cards, allowed Miller to return, and North Walsham’s brief visit to the Fullerian half bore fruit when Duffield sent a very short kick between the posts for a slender 15-12 lead.
The clock said two minutes to go, but the referee was to add plenty for injuries and fighting! The action returned to the Vikings’ try line, and once again terrific defence looked to have won them the match, until a penalty kick was given for a high tackle in the 47th minute. Seven metres out, dead centre, the fly half Toon sliced his kick but just managed to squeeze the ball inside the right hand post. Full time: 15-15
A draw was a fair result, rewarding both Fullerians’ strong pack and the superb Viking defence. James Brooks, the North Walsham coach, was content with the result, feeling that Fullerians used the conditions really well to make it hard for his team. The Chalk Hill Brewery man of the match went to second-row Todd Scotland, whose workrate energised the entire North Walsham pack.
North Walsham: 1. Lachlan Brown-Bates, 2. Will Swart, 3. Dane Canning; 4. Ryan Oakes ( c ), 5. Todd Scotland; 6. Roydon Miller, 7. Chris Godwin, 8. Will Hodgson; 9. Jake Duffield, 10. Mike Braans; 11. James Riley, 12. Hal Riley, 13. Dan Smith, 14. Tom Younie; 15. Harry Downing. Replacements: 16. Tom Browes (for Canning, 48 mins), 17. William Haynes (unused), 18. Ben O’Hickey (for Braans, 58).
Scorers: tries – Miller, Hodgson; conversion – Duffield; penalty – Duffield.
Referee: Toby Rowe (East Midlands).