The Canberra Vikings have put the NRC on notice with an impressive 47-22 win over the Melbourne Rising in windy conditions at Box Hill Rugby Club. The Vikings dominated the opening half with four tries that put them ahead 28-3 at halftime.
Whilst the Rising showed some promise when they were able to hold onto the ball, the Vikings today established themselves as favourites for this year’s competition. The chief destroyers were playmaker Noah Lolesio and centres Irae Simone and Tom Wright, who opened up the Rising backline and caused havoc in the 25 point victory.
The Rising would open the scoring in the first three minutes, with Michael Moloney slotting the penalty at his home ground to push Melbourne in front 3-0.
The Vikings would hit back when Toni Pulu steamrolled over Maloney and Semisi Tupou, popping the ball off to Irae Simone who crossed under the post for a 7-3 advantage.
They would extend their lead after a nice set piece from the scrum, which saw Tom Wright burst away from the defence and draw the fullback for Mack Hansen to score in the corner. Ryan Lonergan would nail the conversion from the sideline for the 14-3 lead inside 15 minutes.
The Vikings looked to compound their misery from the 5m scrum, however, the Rising would hold up Connal Mcinerney over the line, earning themselves the relieving drop-out.
However, the Rising was not able to take advantage of prime field position, gifting away possession on multiple occasions due to sloppy handling and soft penalties.
The Vikings would take advantage of the wasteful Rising, with Andy Muirhead twisting his body and stretched out over the line, with Lonergan continued his strong day with the boot to extend the lead to 21-3 after 27 minutes.
Their dream day continued when Pulu burst threw off the scrum for a try of his own, pushing the score out to 28-3 at half time.
Half Time: Canberra Vikings 28-3
The Rising burst out of the gates when Ross Haylett-Petty thought he was his brother Dane and went for a chip and chase, sadly, it was cleaned up by the Vikings back three.
Unfortunately for the home side, the Vikings would pick up where they left off from half-time, with the Vikings backs opening the game up before Melbourne born Pete Samu finished the play off with a try.
The Rising day was summed up in the 50th minute when they had the perfect opportunity to pin the Vikings inside their 22 with a kick for touch, however, they failed to find the line and coughed up possession.
Justin Marsters would eventually find space down the blindside to score the Rising’s opening try, reducing the margin to 33-8 at the 55-minute mark.
The day would belong to the Vikings, with flyhalf Noah Lolesio taking advantage of a strong run from Simone to score a well-deserved try.
Rising captain Semisi Tupou would get on the outside of the Vikings defence and crossed the line to make the score slightly better for the home side, leaving the scoreline at 40-15 with ten minutes to go.
However, the Vikings would save their best for last, with Tom Wright starting and finishing off a full field try that saw the ball go through five different hands to secure the win.
The Rising would eventually earn a consolation try with time expired when Ross Haylett Petty muscled his way over to reduce the margin to 47-22 at full time.
Full time: Canberra Vikings 47 – Melbourne Rising 22
The Turning Point
The 15-20 minute of the match saw the Rising pepper the Vikings line with the game still in the balance. Unfortunately, they were sloppy with possession, providing the Vikings with the perfect opportunity to extend their margin through tries to Muirhead and Pulu, which secured the result.
The GAGR MOTM
The MOTM is a tough choice, as it could have gone to any of the Vikings centres. But I’m going to give it to Irae Simone, who scored a try and set up another. He looked dangerous every time he got the ball in his hand and he looks like a game-breaker for the Canberra outfit heading forward in the competition.
Rising Star Watch
The Rising Star Watch focuses on players who have yet to establish themselves within Super Rugby, having played less than three games. Vikings prop Fred Kaihea was the stand out forward today, impressing with every hit up and was an integral part of the dominant Canberra scrum.
Canberra Vikings 47
Tries: Simone (8’), Hansen (12’), Muirhead (27’), Pulu (34’), Samu (42′), Lolesio (59′), Wright (75′)
Conversions: Lonergan 6/7
Melbourne Rising 22
Tries: Marsters (55′), Tupou (63′), Haylett-Petty (80′)
Conversions: Maloney 2/3
Penalty Goals: Moloney 1/1