GALLERY: Ipswich 19 North Walsham 19
- Credit: James Ager
Ipswich led 19-5 but had to settle for a draw as they protected their unbeaten home record against the last side to win at Humber Doucy Lane, back in January 2013.
Newly-promoted Ipswich dominated their opposition upfront supplying good quick ball from the outset which saw Carlton Littlechild, Jermaine Watson and Chris Kolapo-Ajala tear holes in the Walsham defence.
However, from one such attack, it was the visitors who opened the scoring on five minutes.
Deep in their own half, a quickly-taken free-kick found space as Ipswich were caught napping, resulting in the Walsham wing running 75 yards and scoring against the run of play.
Ipswich hit back and from one strong drive and ruck, Walsham failed to roll away, but Alan Barker failed to punish the infringement, pushing the resultant penalty wide.
From the restarting 22 Ipswich defended strongly, overturning the ball, and mounted a sustained attack on the Walsham line. As the pressure grew, Ipswich retained possession and Watson dived in the corner. Barker failed with the conversion.
Ipswich ran the kick off straight back and, from quality possession, Littlechild fed the free-running Kolapo-Ajala who sprinted in from 35 yards, Barker adding the two points for 12-5.
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Ipswich sensed the game was theirs for the taking and scored another converted try when Watson showed good strength to go over in the corner with Barker succeeding with a difficult conversion.
With five minutes left of the half, Ipswich had the chance to finish the game with a five-metre scrum in front of the posts. With options galore, they showed their inexperience at this level and gave away a soft penalty which allowed the opposition to clear and then mount relentless attacks on the hosts’ line.
In the second half, Barker missed another penalty, against the wind and, having escaped further damage, Walsham made good ground with 30 minutes left.
Ipswich tired and fell off tackles, while changes in the hosts’ front-row saw Walsham gain an upper-hand.
Constant pressure was rewarded when full back Knight scored by the posts for a simple conversion 19-12.
Ipswich then seemed to have won the game when Walsham were held up and, from the resultant five-metre scrum, stole the ball.
The elation was short-lived, though, as the Walsham 8 shoved the Ipswich pack back on their own ball that saw quick possession moved wide for Hodgson to score untouched. The conversion brought the sides level at 19-19.
With five minutes left, Ipswich attacked to win the game and were rewarded with a penalty 40 metres out that Barker pushed wide against the wind.
From the clearance, Littlechild found space on halfway and just failed to find Kolapo-Ajala who had a clear run into the line.
However the referee had seen another infringement and Ipswich, with no time for the attacking lineout, were forced to kick to win it, but Denham’s kick fell short.
Walsham ran back at Ipswich, reaching the 22, before the game was brought to a conclusion by a thunderous Graham tackle.
PHOTOS BY JAMES AGER