The much awaited NRC finally kicked off in Canberra with the Vikings taking on the Perth Spirit at Viking park.
The Vikings were fielding 11 Brumbies contracted players in their starting side but that didn’t deter the Perth Spirit as they came away with a tough 28-23 win. The Spirit came out of the blocks quickly and managed to keep their hands on the ball for the majority of the opening period and kept the Vikings defence working hard. They took the lead after Zack Holmes sliced through the onrushing defensive line to score the opening try after eight minutes and converted give his side an 8-0 lead. The Vikings did have their chances to hit back but were let down by handling errors and some great defence from the visitors who were sell supported by a small section of the crowd. That would be the theme for the half with the Force attacking the line on further occasions only to be repelled by the Vikings defence. The Vikings had to play a lot out of their own 22 and were unable to get much field position. The Spirit extended their lead on 28 minutes with a lick backline move that saw fullback Dillyn Leyds go over for the second Spirit try in the left corner. Holmes could not convert from wide out to leave it at 13-0.
The second half was reverse of the first half with the Vikings having the better of the play early in the half. The Vikings finally got on the board with flyhalf Isaac Thompson scoring their first try in the left corner to make it 13-5. The forwards started to get involved and on one occasion, a rolling maul involved all but three players the ball popped to Thompson who kicked cross field and Robbie Coleman dived on the ball for the Vikings second try. With less than 20 minutes to go, Perth suffered a double blow with two players receiving yellow cards in quick succession. Replacement Richard Hardwick was marched first then just minutes later, prop Alec Hepburn joined him for slowing the play down. The weight of numbers proved too much for the Spirit, and centre Nigel Ah Wong scored in the right corner to give the Vikings the lead. Christian Lealiifano’s kicking woes continued as he missed his third shot at goal. Robbie Coleman claimed his double shortly after after weaving through the line to score under the posts and Lealiifano finally landed a conversion to make it 23-13. The Spirit weren’t giving up and scored two tries in the last 10 minutes, with Heath Tessmann diving over the close the gap and the second went to centre Amman Matuauto who ran 50 metres untouched to the line to get his side back in the lead with only minutes remaining. The Spirit held onto the ball for the last minutes and added a penalty goal after the siren for good measure to complete the 28-23 win.
The Game Changer
The yellow cards the Spirit received in the second half allowing the Vikings back into the game.
A few too choose from the Spirit but I’m giving the nod to Luke Burton.
Players to Watch
Tim Cree got through plenty of work for the Vikings whilst Zack Holmes and Luke Burton showed plenty of promise leading the Spirit backline around.
Score & Scorers
63 mins – Richard Hardwick – Perth (Yellow) 65 mins – Alec Hepburn – Perth (Yellow) 73 mins – Tom Staniforth – Vikings (Yellow) Crowd: approx 1500