The University of Canberra Vikings have stunned Buildcorp NRC Champions Brisbane City, with a thumping 52-20 bonus point win and claimed the Horan-Little Shield in the process.
The Vikings scored 30 unanswered points in the second half, with three tries in the last 13 minutes to run away with the game played in beautiful sunshine at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane.
It ends Brisbane City’s hold on the Shield that stretched back to Round 2 last season, and it’s the first time Canberra have taken the challenge title.
Brisbane City were on the board first through lock Isi Naisarani in just the third minute of the game, but the Vikings were able to hit back minutes later through a sneaky lineout set move from five metres out.
Canberra hooker Robbie Abel threw to backrower Tom Staniforth at the front, who passed it straight back to Abel, and from there he simply strolled over the line untouched to put the ball down one-handed.
City hit back through Wallabies and Queensland Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby in the 16th minute, who took a quick tap and challenged the UC Vikings line, squeezing through a gap to score out wide.
But again, it was the Vikings to score next, when no.8 OJ Noa crashed over in the corner after multiple phases and sustained attack on the Brisbane City line. Isaac Thompson’s sideline conversion pushed Canberra ahead for the first time.
The Vikings then stretched that lead only minutes later, with Andrew Robinson coming off the blind wing and cutting the City defence apart, stepping the fullback Brad Lacey and dotting down under the posts untouched.
Brisbane City centre Chris Kuridrani profited from a lucky bounce off a loose Vikings pass inside their own 22m, to score next to the posts and bring the margin back to just 22-20 at the halftime break.
Abel notched his double shortly after the break, after Canberra were quickly able to build the pressure on the Brisbane City defensive line; a nice Dean Oakman-Hunt offload sent the Vikings hooker over under the posts for number two.
Jarrad Butler came off the bench inside the last twenty minutes for the Vikings, and scored in the 67th minute after Kuridrani was shown a yellow card for a no-arms tackle, and when Sam Carter stepped off his right to score in the 74th minute, the Horan-Little Shield was heading to the nation’s capital.
Wallabies-bound winger Henry Speight ran in a late try to seal a remarkable turnaround from last week’s thumping at the hands of NSW Country.
BRISBANE CITY 20
Tries: I. Naisarani, N. Frisby, C. Kuridrani
Cons: J. McIntyre 1/3
UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA VIKINGS 52
Tries: R. Abel 2, OJ. Noa, A. Robinson, J. Butler, S. Carter, H. Speight
Cons: I. Thompson 3/4, N. Jooste 1/2, H. Speight 1/1