Vikings hand Drua a reality check

NRC
by Brett McKay

Any concerns that might’ve existed about the Canberra Vikings have been erased, after their huge 66-5 win over the Fijian Drua in Canberra.

In their best performance of the season by some margin, the Vikings picked up a valuable bonus point in the 10 tries to one win at Viking Park, and has shot them to the top of the NRC table.

“That’s what we’ve been building for, over the first four weeks of the competition,” Vikings skipper Tom Cusack told RUGBY.com.au after the match.

“It was very pleasing to finally out it together. We’ve had a few shaky training sessions and a few shaky games with two close losses, and it’s great to come out with the energy we needed to give a performance like that.”

“They were on the top of the table, deservingly so after their first four games, so it’s great to get a result like that when the competition is so close.”Andy Muirhead and the Vikings completely outclassed the Drua. Photo: Getty ImagesThe game was marred by an early eye-gouging allegation against the visitors, and which is sure to come under further scrutiny, after referee Angus Gardner labelled the incident at the time, “unacceptable, completely unacceptable”.

The Vikings opened the scoring through winger Andy Muirhead, with the Brumbies try sneak unleashing a big left foot step to find the line in the fifth minute.

The Drua’s attacking intent was clear from the outset, though their handling was often letting them down, Eroni Vasiteri looked certain to score, only to lose the ball in contact

Scrumhalf Frank Lomani ran over from close range in the 18th minute, but it was all Vikings from there on.

Prop Sione Fa’alelei barged over in the 22nd minute, and then skipper Tom Cusack reversed over the line to score in the 28th minute, Wharenui Hawera had the radar working well, converting all three tries to this point, for Canberra to lead comfortably.

In what was probably their most complete half of the season to date, the home side took a well-deserved 21-5 lead into the halftime break.The Drua were met with Vikings defenders at every turn. Photo: Getty ImagesCusack was in for his second again just minutes after halftime, and Fa’alelei followed suit soon after as the Vikings maintained the momentum after the break.

Hawera’s kicking from the tee was faultless, and the Vikings led 35-5 heading into the last half an hour.

The Drua just couldn’t get into the game, and the Vikings were only too happy to capitalise, borrowing from the Fijian playbook to send Tom Banks over in a definite Try of the Year candidate in the 56th minute.

Ryan Lonergan’s conversion made it 45-5, and it was hard to see how the Drua would get from there.

It got worse when Banks crossed in the corner for his second on the hour and when hooker Robbie Abel crashed over, and the big win was confirmed when Cusack crossed late for his third try in a man-of-the-match performance.

SCORE

Vikings 66

Tries: Cusack 3, Fa’alelei 2, Banks 2, Muirhead, Abel

Cons: Hawera 5, Lonergan, Rolando

Drua 5

Tries: Lomani