Saffron Walden played host to Ipswich, with a gale blowing the length of the pitch it was always going to be a tough game.
Walden kicked off into the wind, forced a turn over and attacked towards the Ipswich try line but were unable to break through in the early skirmishes.
It was Ipswich who scored first after 10 mins as they used the wind forcing their way into the Walden 22 with some close range work. Several phases later they scored under the posts to go 7 ahead.
The next 15 mins saw the sides evenly balanced but 25 minutes into the half some good attacking wide out from the visitors and a couple of missed tackles saw Walden concede two quick tries and Ipswich were 21 points up after 27 minutes and things looked bad for the home team.
However no further defensive errors in the half and with the scrum and line-out working well Walden started to steady the ship and come back into the game.
This was capped up with a try of their own with Ipswich giving away a series of penalties which in many other games might have resulted in a 'team' yellow but the Referee seemed determined to keep everyone on the pitch. From one of these penalties 15 metres out Walden took it quickly and after a couple of phases had created an overlap for left winger Villi Navia to power his way over in the corner. 5 - 21 33 minutes and it remained that way until half time.
With the wind now in Walden's favour they started the second half strongly and set up a series of attacks. On the 50 minute mark they got the ball over the line after a series of pick and goes but it was held up. From the subsequent 5 mtr scrum Walden's No8 Nik Baker got their second try to narrow the gap to 12 - 21.
Walden continued to look the most likely to score and continued to push Ipswich back. As Walden attacked, the visitors were caught offside as they tried to defend some quick ball. Captain Mark Kimberley elected to kick the 3 points from in front of the posts to get Walden into losing bonus point range at 15 - 21.
But Walden were not content and went looking for the win. They thought they had it when a series of determined runs gained ground sucking in the Ipswich defence. The ball was spun wide, substitute wing Nick Brown went over in the corner unopposed and with Kimberley kicking a fine conversion Walden were in front 22 – 21 with 7 minutes left on the clock.
Then the drama, as Walden pinned Ipswich back and some loose ball was nearly gathered by Walden only to be knocked on. From the subsequent scrum Ipswich used their forwards to gradually work the ball up field and kicked a penalty towards the corner gaining a line-out 15 metres out, the Ref called 2 mins to play.
The line-out was thrown long to the back, the wind got hold of it and the Ipswich jumper took the ball about a meter from the centre but the Referee missed it and played on. 2 passes later Walden were rightly penalised for a high tackle just to the right of the posts and understandably Ipswich opted to kick regaining the lead as they went back ahead at 22 – 24. The Ref blew the final whistle despite Walden still thinking there ought to be time for a restart.
It was not to be and Ipswich were jubilant knowing they had sneaked the victory and Walden were left disheartened that they had come so close.
On reflection gaining a losing bonus point from 21 points down against the 2nd placed side in the league might just prove crucial at the end of the season.
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