Perth’s Anaru Rangi diving for the ball at McGillivray (Image: Johan Schmidt Photography)
The Perth Spirit have gone down to the UC Canberra Vikings 26-23 in the fourth round of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship at McGillivray Oval on this afternoon.
The Spirit showed courage in both attack and defence, however two tries by Vikings prop Alan Alaalatoa, as well as some powerful defence helped the Vikings continue their undefeated season collecting their third straight win.
A last-ditch effort by the Spirit almost saw the match end in a draw, with Maalonga Konelio crossing the line to put the Spirit within three points, but the final conversion attempt was wide, seeing the Vikings leave 26-23 victors.
Perth Spirit Captain Angus Cottrell, who was also named Retravision Man of the Match said his side showed positive signs through the amount of energy they brought into the second half.
“Our second half, the energy we brought from half time really showed, and we played some good footy,” he said.
“It’s just those final touches to finish the job that we’ve got to work on for next week.
“The boys scrummed well, there were just a few things on defence where the Vikings really gave it to us up front.
“We will look at that, and work on that, and come back for the Queensland Country match next week.”
Joe Powell was able to open the scoring for the Vikings, finding a hole in the Spirit defence and darting through to score a try on the sideline. Rodney Iona converted the kick despite the strong crosswind, making it 8-0.
The Spirit were soon able to take control of the ball, building up an unsurmountable amount of pressure after Maalonga Konelio burst down the sideline to set them up within metres of the try-line. After an attempted set of pick and goes, Ryan Louwrens was able to set up Junior Rasolea who busted through the Vikings line defence to score. Luke Burton’s successful kick attempt put the score at 8-8.
The Vikings responded quickly, with Alan Alaatatoa using his powerful body to break through the stiff Perth Spirit defence. The try directly under the posts set up an easy conversion attempt for Rodney Iona, 16-8.
Kane Koteka hit back for the Spirit, scoring off the back of a rolling maul. The Vikings maul defence pushed the Spirit back, but Koteka broke free from the maul, finding a hole to break through in the Vikings defence to cross the line. Luke Burton was unable to convert the kick attempt, putting the score at 16-13.
Alan Alaalatoa collected his second of the game for the Vikings, collecting a pass from the breakdown into a large amount of space directly by the goal posts. Rodney Iona’s successful kick from directly in front put the score at 24-13 heading into half time.
Brad Lacey opened the second half scoring, finding an overlap in the Canberra defence after receiving a pass on the wing from fullback Daley Harper. Luke Burton’s kick attempt would not go, leaving the score at 24-18.
In the 76th minute, the Vikings were given a penalty where they made the tactical decision to kick a two-point penalty goal to put themselves in front by eight points, meaning only a converted try by the Spirit could tie the match.
The Spirit looked set to the end the match as a tie, when Maalonga Konelio found a long ball passed from the middle of the field, switching the play and allowing him to cross into the far corner to score. Luke Burton’s kick attempt from the far sideline would not go through, with the whistle sounding to give the Vikings a 26-23 victory.
UC Canberra Vikings 26 (Joe Powell, Alan Alaalatoa 2 Tries; conversions Rodney Iona 3) defeated Perth Spirit (Junior Rasolea, Kane Koteka, Brad Lacey, Maalonga Konelio tries; Luke Burton 1 conversion).