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Canterbury 52-38 North Walsham Vikings
Canterbury 52-38 North Walsham Vikings

Canterbury’s season ended as it began with victory over North Walsham but it took a spectacular second half performance to rescue a game in which the visitors at one stage led by 28 points. 

The Vikings went into this match needing a bonus point to guarantee their survival in National 2 East and they achieved it with four tries in the first 23 minutes as their skill and determination left Canterbury looking for an escape hatch.  

An attack masterminded by fly half Matt Hodgson and a pack effective at close quarters saw tries from Oliver Coates, Ethan Holmwood, Hodgson and Ryan Oakes. 

The city side’s only reply was an early score from Jesse De Vries after a powerful run through the defence. 

When wing Shaun Blyth piled on more pressure with a fifth touchdown and Hodgson nailed his fourth conversion the scoreboard read 33-5 and Canterbury faced a long and daunting road back.

They took steps along it in the last ten minutes of the half, winning penalties, building pressure and finding two converted tries. 

Tyler Oliver crossed after hard work by the pack and Tom Best forced his way over by the posts. Conversions from Frank Reynolds raised hopes further. 

Best’s 50/22 kick minutes into the second half helped to turn those hopes into reality. From it hooker Sam Rogers, on his 250th appearance for the club, completed a catch and drive score which Reynolds converted and a revitalised Canterbury took control.

By the hour mark they had wiped out the Vikings advantage and gone ahead through converted tries from prop Billy Young and a second by Oliver. 

The only blip on the march to victory came via a good Walsham score from wing James Riley which brought them back to within two points. 

It made no difference to confident Canterbury as full back Charlie Kingsman joined a driving maul to register his side’s seventh try and in the last minute the city men signed off their season with a stunning solo effort from young flanker Harvey Furneaux. 

Acting as an emergency wing for the injured Frank Morgan he fielded a Vikings kick, spun, stepped and shouldered his way past three tacklers and raced 50 metres to the posts. It was a fitting finale to a huge team effort.

Canterbury: C.Kingsman, T.Halliday, W.Waddington (repl L.Hollidge), T.Best, F.Morgan (repl B.Cooper), L.Hollidge (repl F .Reynolds), B.Cooper (repl T.Williams), B.Young, S.Rogers (repl B.Dunkerley), D.Herriott (repl E.Lusher), D.Irvine, J.De Vries, J.Stephens, H.Furneaux (repl A.Evans, T.Oliver.

Pictures supplied by Phillipa Hilton.