The Canberra Vikings have snapped a two-match losing streak with a comprehensive 66-5 win over the Fijian Drua in Canberra.
It was an impressive all round display from the home side as they racked up ten tries in total with Tom Cusack collecting a hat trick in a man of the match display with Tom Banks and Faalelei Sione collecting doubles. It was a return to form for the Vikings in this top four battle that sees them jump to the top of the table with a healthy for and against.
The home side enjoyed all the possession in the opening five minutes and aided by a penalty, the Vikings kicked to within 15 metres of the Fiji line but their usual rolling maul weapon was disrupted but it only took a few more phases for Andy Muirhead to open the scoring. Whareni Hawera converted for a 7-0 lead.
That seemed to spark the Drua into action and armed with a big scrum, they worked down towards the Vikings line but a knock on from Eroni Vasiteri near the Vikings line saw them come away with nothing.
The visitors did not have to wait too much longer to get on the board with the Vikings unable to exit their end effectively and with some good field position, scrum half Frank Lomani was able to dive over from close range to make it 7-5.
The Vikings extended the margin after 22 minutes on the back of a Fiji error after they kicked out on the full and made things worse by conceding a penalty in their own 22. The Drua were able to nullify the initial maul but couldn’t keep out Vikings prop Faalelei Sione. Hawera’s second conversion made it 14-5.
The points kept flowing for the home side as they added another try five minutes after with captain Tom Cusack burrowing over to make for 21-5 lead with Fiji struggling to get out of their own half.
The Drua had a few chances to hit back before the break but a wayward kick on one occasion and some determined Vikings defence held them out to leave it 21-5 at the break.
The Vikings started the second half where they left off with Cusack collecting his double within five minutes of the restart after being put through by Muirhaed who found space out on the right wing.
The forwards continued their try scoring feats with Sione following Cusack with his try scoring double. Small gains with pick drives sucked in the Drua defence and Sione scored from close range. Hawera continued his 100% kicking record with his fifth conversion to make it 35-5 after 50 minutes.
The Fijians had limited chances to hit back in the second half but were unable to capitalise inside the Vikings 22 and before they knew it, were under their own sticks after the sixth Vikings try of the night. Muirhead set it up with a nice run down the left wing before Robbie Abel pinned his ears back and looked inside and found Tom Banks who rolled over in the tackle to score.
Banks was it again only five minutes later as he swooped in on a grubber from Hawera in the right corner to make the margin 40 with 20 minutes still remaining.
With the Vikings clearing the benches, they still had more points in them with Robbie Abel getting his name on the try scorer list as they ticked over the half century mark. And there was more with Cusack collecting his third and replacement Harry Lloyd put the icing on the cake with time up to end a sorry night for the visitors at 66-5.
No real moment as the Vikings put the Drua to the sword but the two tries early in the second half seemed to halt any chance of a Fiji comeback
The G&GR MOTM
Tom Cusack. A big game from the Vikings captain with a hat trick and leading the line in defence
Score & Scorers
Tries: Cusack 3, Sione 2, Banks 2, Muirhead, Abel, Lloyd
Conversions: Hawera 5, Lonergan, Rolando 2
Nil- Although keep an ear out for more on an alleged eye gouging incident around the 20th minute.