The Vikings have given a glimpse of the generation next in Canberra with young guns stepping up in a dominant 47-22 victory over the Melbourne Rising at Box Hill.
Junior Wallabies playmaker Noah Lolesio showed himself to be a star of the future - and the potential replacement for Christian Lealiifano at the Brumbies next season - with a superb outing at no.10. The 20-year-old steered the Vikings around nicely and scored one of the Canberrans’ seven tries in their emphatic win.
The Vikings forwards came into the match expected to flex their muscles but it was the backline who did the damage; every single player in the backs bar halfback Ryan Lonergan crossed for a try, and most picked up try assists for each other as well.
Brumbies aspirants Mack Hansen and Tom Wright were excellent, and so too were speedsters Toni Pulu and Andy Muirhead and the creative Irae Simone.
Longergan made do with a 12-point haul as a dead-eye goal kicker in windy conditions.
The Rising trailed 28-3 at halftime and looked to be in for a thumping but rallied well in the second, when coach Pom Simona rolled out some of his Rebels troops off the bench.
They not only stemmed the damage, but the Rising finished the stronger and scored three tries in the second half to put some respectability on the scoreboard.
The Rising suffered from inexperience in the halves and, compared to the talent on display from the Brumbies generation next, didn’t get enough from their fringe Super Rugby men.
The Rising got on the board first but a lovely linebreak off set-piece for Toni Pulu set up Simone for the first try after seven minutes.
Wright’s dancing feet and sheer speed in the 13 channel would prove damaging all game and he laid on a try for Hansen soon after following a long run up the left sideline.
The Vikings almost went in again shortly after but were held up and the world’s first “held up line dropout” was seen at the 20 minute mark.
The Vikings were attacking down the left edge often and Hansen gave Muirhead a try and in the 27th minute, and when Pulu scored again off a scrum starter - where he bounced through two tackles - the Vikings led 28-3.
After halftime, the Vikings pushed further ahead when they stretched the Rising left and right and eventually gave Pete Samu a try in the left corner. Samu was impressive in his first game since being overlooked for the Wallabies’ World Cup squad.
The Rising were down by 30 points but boosted by their bench, they rallied and would score three tries in the last 25 minutes, to Justin Masters, Semisi Tupou and Ross Haylett-Petty.
A solo try from Lolesio and a brilliant long-range try involving Pulu, Simone and finished by Wright was enough to keep the Vikings out in front, and informing the competition they’ll again be one of the sides to beat in 2019.
TRIES: Wright, Lolesio, Samu, Pulu, Muirhead, Hansen, Simone
CONS: Lonergan 6
TRIES: Masters, Tupou, Haylett-Petty
CONS: Maloney 2