NRC: Vikings ready for all-out Perth effort in chase for maiden title

NRC
by Emma Greenwood

It was almost a lesson learnt the hardest way but Canberra coach Nick Scrivener hopes his Vikings will be able to apply the wisdom gained in their semi-final fightback in Saturday's NRC decider.

Down 22-0 at halftime against the Fijian Drua last week, the Vikings brought energy  and effort to the second half, two things Scrivener knows must be present from the kick-off if Canberra are to claim a maiden NRC title in Perth on Saturday.

"The learning out of that is that in this knock-out rugby, you need to be at your best or very close to your best and we were far from that in the first half," he said.

The Vikings celebrate their miraculous comeback win. Photo: Getty Images

"The message was pretty direct at halftime and it wasn't about tactics or points or whatever, it was just about getting back to our process and trying to get some traction and grab little bits of momentum int eh game to build on.

"I just didn't think we gave ourselves any traction into the game in the first half because we played poorly.

"We just needed to get back to our process and not worry about outcome - we forced outcome a lot in that first half, pushing passes, instead of sticking to our processes and working bloody hard.

"So the message out of that was, don't look for easy outcomes."

Rob Valetini charges into the Sydney defence. Photo: Vikings Media

The Vikings have suffered a selection blow for the final, with big guns Rob Valetini (ankle) and Toni Pulu (hamstring) unavailable.

But Scrivener has full faith in the players picked.

"We've got really good backs and if we do enough work, the opportunities will come without them even thinking about it because they are good footballers," he said.

"When we think about it and overcomplicate it and look for easy outcomes, it doesn't happen for us.

"We've got to be prepared to work hard and roll our sleeves up and get stuck in and the rest of it will take care of itself."

 

The "shuffling of the decks" that occurred for the Vikings early in the NRC season as players pushed for spots in the World Cup squad has long since settled and while Valetini and Pulu are unavailable, the Vikings have plenty of big guns, with Tom Banks, Joe Powell and Pete Samu fit and firing.

"The guys that didn't make the Wallabies that we thought might have - or possibly should have - have done really, really well for us and they've slotted in here and have been fantastic," Scrivener said.

"And that's one of the things that's good about the NRC as well.

"We've got young players, uncontracted guys that are training and playing and being around Wallaby players and they've been really good.

"So once the dust settled and everyone knew what was going on, we got into a bit of rhythm with selection and probably from week two or three we were a bit more settled."

 

Having not been at the helm of the Vikings when they made NRC grand finals in 2015 and 2017, Scrivener said it was not up to him to say whether the club was in the best position in its history to win a title.

"But it's a grand final and we're in it, so a good performance from us will give us every chance to be the first Viking team to take the title in this competition," he said.

"We're in a good position - we've had some injuries late and every team has them - but every guy that's come in has been playing well throughout the year, so we'll be aiming to give it a good crack.

"We went over there during the round games and didn't play well, we weren't at our best, so that's forefront of their minds as well, knowing that if we don't play well, it's going to be a difficult day.

"We've won the last four and had a really good second half against Fiji, so we're ready to go, the preparation's been done.

"It's a hit and run mission to go over there and have a crack."