Strength and determination to the fore as Saffron Walden hand Southwold a first league loss
PUBLISHED: 09:45 07 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:45 07 October 2019
Saffron Walden secured a fantastic and hard-fought 20-17 home win as they ended Southwold's unbeaten start to the London Two North East campaign.
It was not without its trials and its stresses but tries from Sam Butler and Vili Navia ensured the Springate-based rugby club were standing tall at the final whistle.
They had bagged the first points of the game with a penalty but the squad, already affected by injuries and absentees due to holidays, suffered more disruption when fly-half Conor McCabe limped out of the action.
The resulting reshuffle saw Mark Kimberley going in at 10, Navia coming into the centres and Jake Freeman coming off the bench on the wing.
Perhaps still adjusting to this but Walden conceded the first try on 18 minutes with Southwold utilising some good pick-and-go drives to score close to the posts.
Their lead didn't last long though as Navia's cut back against the grain caught the visitors' defence napping and created an overlap that Butler took full advantage of.
Kimberley kicked the conversion to put Walden 10-7 ahead but a Southwold penalty ensured an equal half would end all square.
Parity was broken again after 10 minutes of the second period as pressure from the Suffolk side forced a penalty at the scrum and quick thinking by the scrum-half made it 17-10.
For the next quarter of the game Walden gradually started to dominate territory with some good runs by George Menhinick forcing Southwold to concede a penalty, Kimberley calmly slotting the three points.
A poor restart from Southwold gave Walden a scrum on half-way and from there they marched into the 22 with some fine work by Walden's make shift second row of Will McGinn and Jo Turner and flanker Sam Eardley, all three playing out of position.
As Southwold tried to kick the ball clear it fell into Navia hands running forward at pace and he broke three tackles to score the try.
It would prove to be the final score of the game as although the final 10 minutes ebbed and flowed, Walden stayed strong in defence to close out the win, Karl Tagg and Harry Stocking especially proving their worth.
Man of the Match was awarded to Nik Baker who was playing his first league game of the season after an injury in pre-season.
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