No win despite a mammoth effort but brave Walden win new fans with dogged display
PUBLISHED: 06:52 19 November 2019
The score may not suggest it but Saffron Walden will be hugely disappointed not to have come away with a win at Holt.
The record books will record a 41-24 success for the Norfolk outfit, a result which lifts them out of the relegation places and keeps Walden firmly in mid-table.
But considering the circumstances, which saw the visitors travel with just 14 players following numerous injuries and illnesses, this was a display of sheer dogged tenacity that deserved all the plaudits they got.
They were first to score with a penalty after 14 minutes as Holt strayed offside in front of the posts but the home side hit back five minutes later with a converted try following a good break through the centre.
They kept the pressure on but a loose pass was gleefully intercepted by Walden skipper Mark Kimberley and run 90 metres up the pitch and into the corner.
He even converted it from out on the touchline.
An unconverted try from a scrum 15 metres out put the home side ahead again but the topsy-turvy half continued and right from the restart Walden worked the ball deep into the Holt half and forced a knock on.
Ben Stapleton picked up from the resulting scrum, playing a dual role as number eight and winger, and side stepping a couple of defenders he used his strength to reach out and score.
Holt scored their third try when some great passing found the inevitable overlap but a penalty on the stroke of half-time from Kimberley ensured Walden went into the break 18-17 in front.
Another penalty five minutes into the second half stretched the lead further but another fine passing move brought a converted score.
Another penalty brought the scores level at 24-24, this one thumped from just inside the Holt half by full-back Tom Price, but unfortunately that was as good as it got and with Holt bringing on fresh legs, three unanswered tries in the final 15 minutes left Walden with nothing for all their efforts.
A spokesman for the team said: "They all deserve the greatest credit for digging deep and putting their all into the game that so easily could have gone sour.
"All those who made the trip were rewarded with an 'I was there' moment. We witnessed true grit and determination that I am sure every single one of the players will remember for the rest of their playing days."
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