Walden narrowly lose to league leaders.
A pulsating game with the result in doubt until the last play of the game.
After a well attended VP's lunch for the last home game of the year, Saffron Walden entertained top of the table Woodford under the lights.
Walden were hoping for a better performance after a string of bad results, but it was the visitors who were first on the scoreboard, the home side gave a penalty away and Woodford kicked to the corner, a well executed catch and drive they drove their way over the try line for a converted try after only 6 mins.
Walden were struggling in the scrums and therefore Woodford had most of the ball and territory in the first quarter of the game, scoring their second converted try on the 20 min mark when they broke through the centres to score under the posts to go 14 points up.
At this point Walden could so easily have caved in but to their credit they were gradually getting back into the game with some good defensive work.
On the half hour mark Woodford had once again worked their way deep inside the 22 metre area and were looking to get an overlap on the right but the final pass was read by Walden’s left winger Paul Marshall who intercepted and raced the length of the field to score Walden’s first points and give them belief that they could get something out of the game.
With no more points in the rest of the half the at the break was 5 – 14.
After half time it looked a different game, some great pressure by the home team forced a knock on by Woodford, a solid scrum gave Walden the edge and forced a penalty.
They elected to kick to the corner for a 5 metre line-out. It looked like Walden were setting up for a driving maul but No8 Nik Baker peeled off the back catching the visitors by surprise and dived over the line. 10 -14 after 43 mins.
3 mins later Walden forced Woodford to stray offside, fullback Tom Price stepped up to take a long range penalty to put Walden only 1 point behind 13 – 14.
Walden were now playing the better rugby and not only gaining parity in the scrums but actually pushing Woodford back on a couple of occasions.
15 minutes into the half it was from one of these scrums that forced another penalty in front of the posts, Price kicked and Walden took the lead 16 -14.
This spurred the visitors into action and they set up a series of phases to drive into Walden’s 22. They then passed the ball out wide and some good hands found just enough space to put the right winger over in the corner to retake the lead. 16 -19.
Walden equalised when they gained yet another penalty when Woodford were penalised for hands in the ruck, 19 each with only 10 mins to go.
Unfortunately for Walden a stray pass was intercepted and Woodford made good ground into Walden's half, a penalty for slowing the ball down and Woodford took the 3 points, 19 - 22 with 8 mins left on the clock.
But try as they might Walden could not score any further points and Woodford were grateful to kick the ball out to end a pulsating game.
Walden had to settle for a losing bonus point but showed a lot of heart in pushing the league leaders all the way.
A couple of good training sessions and with some players looking to return they can take some confidence into the two away games at South Woodham Ferrers and Cantabs before the Christmas break.