The University of Canberra Vikings have bolted out to title favouritism, after a dominant 58-20 win over Queensland Country at Bond University on the Gold Coast.
Country were expected to be the big improvers in the Buildcorp NRC in 2016, with the addition of Toutai Kefu and Brad Thorn to their coaching ranks, and with Wallabies lock Rob Simmons released from the national squad for this game, but the young side had few answers for the Vikings’ Super Rugby-laden forwards pack.
“That tight five, they’re so good at the set piece,” Vikings Captain Jarrad Butler told Fox Sports of his forwards immediately after the eight tries to three win.
“The lineout was really good, same with the scrum, and to be able to put pressure on a team when they’ve got the ball as well as when we’ve got it, it’s going to be really important.”
Brumbies and Wallabies lock Rory Arnold and winger James Dargaville enjoyed doubles, and Henry Speight also crossed for two second half tries after returning from the Olympic Sevens squad.
Vikings centre and Brumbies rookie centre Jordan Jackson-Hope made a clean break late in the game to ensure the big win, while Flyhalf Nick Jooste kicked five conversions from eight attempts.
Promising Queensland Country outside back Izaia Perese made a nice line break inside his own half before showing a clean pair of heels to cross for the home side’s first try, and fullback Tom Banks crossed for two late tries.
Earlier, the Vikings jumped out to a 14-0 lead inside fifteen minutes, with Dargaville and Arnold both crossing after some handy passing from scrumhalf Joe Powell.
Soon after, Dargaville crossed for his second but picked up a shoulder injury in the process, forcing him from the field.
The Vikings were in their groove by this stage, and hooker Robbie Abel added to his prodigious try-scoring for Perth Spirit in 2014, crashing over from the back of a strong Vikings lineout drive.
QUEENSLAND COUNTRY 20
Tries: T.Banks 2, I.Perese.
Cons: M.Mason 1/3.
UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA VIKINGS 58
Tries: J.Dargaville 2, R.Arnold 2, H.Speight 2, R.Abel, J.Jackson-Hope.
Cons: N.Jooste 5/8.