Gritty Vikings hand Force first NRC defeat

NRC
by Max Hope

The Canberra Vikings have defeated the Western Force 29-19 in a gritty contest at Viking Park.

A calm and sunny afternoon greeted the two sides, with the visitors hoping to remain up the top of the ladder and the home side looking to register their second win of their campaign.

The Vikings opened the scoring after a beautiful cut out ball from fly-half Wharenui Hawera found winger Andy Muirhead, who weaved his way over from 10 metres out.

The Force camped themselves inside the home side’s 22m, and their dominance in the forwards was rewarded when flanker Chris Alcock worked his way over from close range.

Jordan Jackson-Hope’s individual brilliance saw the Vikings retake the lead in the 22nd minute, when the Vikings inside-centre chipped and chased from 40m out and had too much pace for the covering Force defenders.

Hawera knocked over an easy penalty goal from in front to give the Canberran’s a 17-7 lead, before the Force hit back just a few minutes before half-time through a strong run from Henry Taefu.

With under a minute on the clock before the oranges, ‘Rocket’ Rod Davies split the Vikings defence and placed a perfectly weighted grubber kick, forcing a 5-metre scrum.

The Force subsequently pushed their way over to take the lead through no.8 Brynard Stander and headed to the sheds leading 19-17.

The second half began in a similar fashion to that of the first; with the Force setting up base camp inside the Vikings’ half, however the Vikings defence proved up to the task, holding off numerous waves of pick-and-drive footy from the visitors.

When the Vikings did manage to work their way down the other end of the park, they were good enough to capitalise and turn it into points.

Another beautiful cut out pass from Hawera forced an overlap and quick movement through the hands saw Muirhead dive over in the corner for his second of the afternoon.

The Vikings seemed to be thoroughly enjoying a change of scenery from their own half, and when Hawera danced through the Force’s defence and crashed over, the home side had somehow managed to grab a 10-point lead with as many minutes remaining.

The Force used all the skills in their arsenal to try to haul in the deficit, however when fullback Jack McGregor lost control of the ball in the process of grounding it with six minutes to go, the Force’s hopes of a victory went with it.

The Vikings wound down the clock in a controlled manner and registered their second win of the season in the process.

Vikings captain Ben Hyne told Fox Sports after that match that although not perfect, it was a good hard fought-win.

“Yeah, really happy to get the points. Super pleased with the effort from our boys, it could have gone either way there but very important that we could hold on.”

On the other end of the spectrum, it was nothing but a case of ‘what could have been’ for opposite skipper Ian Prior.

“Just a frustrating day. We created heaps of opportunities, they just did really well to shut us down. Their defence was solid all day and we just couldn’t break through when it mattered.

The Force will now travel north to take on defending premiers Queensland Country, whilst the Vikings will do battle against the winless NSW Country Eagles.

Vikings

Tries: Muirhead (2), Jackson-Hope, Hawera

Conversions: Hawera (3)

Penalties: Hawera

Force

Tries: Alcock, Taefu, Stander

Conversions: Prior (2)

For match details see all the stats in our match centre.

TEAMS

Vikings team to take on Force 

IN: Tom Banks, Rob Valetini, Josh Mann-Rea, Joe Powell 

OUT: Chance Peni (concussion), TP Luteru, Luke Kimber, Jacob Abel 

1. Sione Taula

2. Connal Mcinerney

3. Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin

4. Blake Enever

5. Darcy Swain

6. BJ Edwards

7. Michael Oakman-Hunt

8. Ben Hyne

9. Ryan Lonergan

10. Wharenui Hawera

11. Andy Muirhead

12. Jordan Jackson-Hope

13. Len Ikitau

14. Lausii Taliauli

15. Tom Banks

Reserves 

16. Josh Mann-Rea

17. Vunipola Fifita

18. Tom Ross

19. Rob Valetini

20. Brodie Leber

21. Joe Powell

22. Irae Simone

23. Mack Hansen 

Force to take on Vikings 

IN: N/A 

OUT: N/A

1. Harrison Lloyd

2. Harry Scoble

3. Kieran Longbottom

4. Fergus Lee-Warner

5. Jeremy Thrush

6. Tevin Ferris

7. Chris Alcock

8. Brynard Stander

9. Ian Prior

10. Andrew Deegan

11. Rodney Davies

12. Henry Taefu

13. Marcel Brache

14. Masivesi Dakuwaqa

15. Jack McGregor 

Reserves

16. Heath Tessmann

17. Cameron Orr

18. Chris Heiberg

19. Leon Power

20. Harrison Orr

21. Issak Fines

22. Rodney Iona 

23. Peter Grant