Vikings 24 Colchester 37 Report from Seb Sutcliffe
Vikings strive but fall short to strong Colchester side
The Vikings conceded 24 points to seven in the second half to lose the first match of the new season to recently relegated Colchester.
Optimism was high as high as the temperature before kick-off, after solid pre-season friendlies suggested that the Vikings might be able to improve on last season’s fourth place in London North 1, but Colchester quickly proved that they were going to be no pushovers. North Walsham had barely spent any time in the Colchester half before they had their first significant chance, a missed drop-goal by fly-half David Higgins. The reprieve was short lived – winger James Crozier going through the middle for the first points, converted with a drop-goal by Higgins. 0-7
Against the run of play, the Viking were next to score on 14 minutes as Will Hodgson made good use of James Riley’s run to set up Jake Duffield for a try between the posts; Duffield safely converting for 7-7. Parity lasted a little while when on 17 minutes Higgins scored a penalty. 7-10
Possession was mostly Colchester’s, and play was nearly all in the Vikings’ half, and the pressure eventually told on 28 minutes when Higgins scored his second penalty to make it 7-13. It was looking like it would be a long afternoon for the hosts!
However, a fine try by debutant Roydon Miller, finishing off good work by Hodgson and Duffield – who converted from a tight angle – put the Vikings in front again, 14-13. The score swung the match in the Vikings’ favour and they finished the half strongly with a penalty kicked by Duffield. Colchester thought they would regain the lead on the stroke of half-time, but their penalty line-out was thrown in askew! Half time: 17-13
The second half started off at tremendous pace, deep kicks opening up space at both ends, and just when North Walsham looked like their running game would punch them through the Colchester defence, a superb interception from the flanker Dan Whiteman brought them the score instead, converted again by Higgins. 17-20
After six minutes North Walsham topped that try, scoring the best try of the game when Duffield finished off a move involving Miller, Will Findlay (both twice), Riley and Josh Brown. Duffield converted for 24-20.
Unfortunately that was the end of the Viking scoring as Colchester took control of the match over the next 15 minutes using the little used tactic ‘don’t give the ball away, don’t make any errors. Despite fine defence, Colchester’s lock Joe Colcomb pushed over for a Higgins-converted try to make it 24-27; and then Colchester made their best score straight from the restart. Colchester slowly worked the ball upfield, won a penalty 12m from the Vikings’ line, Higgins making it 24-30.
On 30 minutes Colchester’s domination of territory and possession won them another try after two weak tackles on their scrum-half Brett Cutbush, and Higgins completed the scoring with his seventh successfully placed kick out of seven.
Things got interesting again in overtime when Colchester’s Liam Pickett was yellow carded for a try-saving block, but the Vikings couldn’t quite squeeze the penalty over. Full time: 24-37
After the match the coach James Brooks said that Chris Godwin was the Chalk Hill Brewery man-of-the match, earned with his high tackle count and zero penalties conceded. Brooks was frustrated that his side had come so close to a double losing bonus, but was delighted with the Vikings’ best play and with the work of the scrum.
North Walsham scorers – tries: Duffield (2), Miller; conversions: Duffield (3); penalty: Duffield.
North Walsham Vikings: 1. Acky Downing, 2. Lachlan Brown-Bates, 3. Tim Weber; 4. Ryan Oakes (C), 5. Roydon Miller; 6. Tom Knight, 7. Chris Godwin, 8. Will Hodgson; 9. Will Findlay, 10. Jake Duffield; 11. James Riley, 12. James Knight, 13. Michael Braans, 14. Vilikesa Vurewa; 15. Josh Brown. Substitutes: 16. Johnny Marsters, 17. Adam Howe, 18. George Rossi.