Inaugural holders of the Horan-Little Shield, the Melbourne Rising have completed the second change of hands for the challenge trophy in 2016, with a 60-44 win over the University of Canberra Vikings.
A treble to stand-in Rising captain Tom English and a double to Lloyd Johansson led the way for the visitors, wrapping up the nine tries to six win in a see-sawing second half at Viking Park in Canberra.
Melbourne will now defend the Shield against the Western Sydney Rams in Melbourne next Sunday.
English scored the first try of the match in the 14th minute, but it represented the first time the Rising hadn’t let themselves down with their execution to that point.
The Rising pushed on, with lock Sam Jeffries crashing over from close range ten minutes later, which with Debreczeni’s conversion put Melbourne ahead 14-0.
Melbourne had played the first half almost entirely in the Vikings half, and Debreczeni extended the lead in the 32nd minute to 20-0, strolling through out wide after running around a couple of teammates.
The Vikings finally got on the board through their lineout drive, with hooker Josh Mann-Rea scoring twice off the back in the last four minutes before the break. Isaac Thompson missed with both conversions, making the score 20-12 at halftime.
English repeated his first half effort by scoring the first try of the second half in the 44th minute, but when Canberra flanker Tom Staniforth crashed over under the posts on the pick and drive and Thompson converted, the Vikings had clawed the margin back to 26-20.
The second half burst into point-scoring life inside the last half an hour, with Mann-Rea scoring a third rolling maul try for the Vikings, Rising centre Lloyd Johansson crossing in the corner, Canberra and Brumbies lock Sam Carter using his reach advantage to get the ball down, and Johansson crashing over in the corner for his second.
Rising lock Alex Toolis scored in the 67th minute, and English crossed for no.3 in the 69th minute to push the Rising ahead 54-36 with ten to go.
Thompson scored and converted for the Vikings to bring the margin back to ten with seven minutes to play.
A Sione Tuipulotu try on full time wrapped up the Horan-Little Shield for the Rising.
UNI OF CANBERRA 44
Tries: J. Mann-Rea 3, T. Staniforth, S. Carter, I. Thompson
Cons: I. Thompson 4/6
MELBOURNE RISING 60
Tries: T. English 3, L. Johansson 2, S. Jeffries, J. Debreczeni, A. Toolis, S. Tuipulotu
Cons: J. Debreczeni 3/9