Lead changes 10 times in Christmas cracker but Saffron Walden finally prevail over Chelmsford

PUBLISHED: 14:00 21 December 2016 | UPDATED: 14:01 21 December 2016

Ivan Karsten surging for the line. Picture: Jamie Pluck

Ivan Karsten surging for the line. Picture: Jamie Pluck


Four Ivan Karsten tries helped Saffron Walden to a dramatic triumph over struggling Chelmsford on Saturday.

In an extraordinary match the lead changed hands no fewer than 10 times between teams of contrasting styles.

Chelmsford relied on the forwards and Walden tried to play quick running rugby, using their pace across the park.

Walden were first on the scoreboard when winger Karsten latched on to a fine pass, putting him in just enough space to touch down in the corner.

Chelmsford hit back a couple of minutes later when they regained possession and chipped through.

The bounce of the ball beat the Walden full-back and they were first on to it to score a converted try.

However in a frantic opening 15 minutes Walden retook the lead when they regained the ball from the kick-off.

Flanker Matt Holden jumped highest to catch the ball and the attack was set-up.

Several phases later, with forwards and backs combining, they got close to the line with Harry Stocking diving over from close range and Karsten converting for 12-7.

Chelmsford were inevitably next to score with another converted try after just 15 minutes.

There was a 10-minute lull in the half where neither side scored but Karsten was proving a thorn in Chelmsford’s side, receiving the ball in the centre of the field 25 metres out, running a diagonal line towards the corner and leaping over for his second of the afternoon.

The visitors responded when one of the Walden pack was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on deep inside his own half and now with the extra man in an already dominant scrum they pushed Walden back over the try-line to score.

With the score at 21-17, Karsten then notched Walden’s fourth, and bonus-point try, with another fine backs move which saw him clear and he touched down in the corner.

Nevertheless, in the last play of the half Chelmsford kicked a penalty to lead 24-22.

The second half was more attritional as both teams tightened up in defence and the weather closed in.

Walden were first to score as although Walden’s forwards were having a tough time in the scrum, they were competing well around the park and it was fitting that when Walden gained a penalty 30m out they kicked to the corner.

A well set-up catch and drive move saw Holden at the tail of the maul as it went over the try-line to score.

In the 56th minute Chelmsford worked the ball back into the Walden 22 and nearly scored, only to be held up over the line.

But from the resulting five-metre scrum that had to be reset a couple of times, they eventually pushed their way over to score their fourth try retaking the lead for the last time at 31-27.

For 15 minutes, despite having most of the ball, Walden could not make the breakthrough and knowing one more score from the visitors would probably take the game away from them perhaps nerves started to play a part.

But they dug deep and eventually managed to get on the front foot just inside the visitors’ half.

Karsten received the ball 30m out and seeing his opposite number in front he kicked through, muscled his way forward before jumping onto it to complete the superb topsy-turvy victory.

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