Vikings beat Brisbane City in NRC slogfest - Green and Gold Rugby
Brisbane City NRC

Vikings beat Brisbane City in NRC slogfest

Vikings beat Brisbane City in NRC slogfest

With a place in the finals on the line, the Canberra Vikings travelled to a sodden Easts Rugby Club in suburban Brisbane to take on home-town Brisbane City. Which team would handle the conditions best? Who would emerge with a daunting semi-final trip to Fiji?

The Match:

As the game started, it was obvious that whoever adapted first to the diabolical wet would probably end up on top. Standing water was everywhere and much of the touchline closest to the clubhouse was a line of dirt and mud.

So it was the Vikings who made the first error, with Hawera kicking the ball dead in goal from half-way, giving City an early scrum. Off the feed, City couldn’t get a strike on it and the ball hung there tantalisingly until the Viking pack folded. This scrum pressure exerted by City was a continual feature of the game against what had been, until today, an equally strong Viking pack.

After around ten minutes of loose play, misfiring lineouts and loose carries, it was the Vikings who seemed to be warming to the task a little better, and indeed they struck first.

A Scott Gale box kick was counter attacked and the ball quickly went wide left where Len Ikitau strolled through a yawning gap and went over. Hawera converts and it is 7-0 Vikings after 13 minutes.

The Vikings continued to win the territory and possession battle through most of the first half, and they weren’t afraid to spread it and Hope and Ikitau were making some serious metres in the centres, and both Vikings wingers were also seeing a lot of ball. Brisbane City in contrast looked to work it through the middle when they had it but struggled to hold ball in contact and continually put themselves under pressure.

As the half hour ticked by, City’s scrum reasserted themselves as a series of penalties saw them piggybacked downfield, A scrum close to the Vikings line saw another penalty and in the resulting confusion, Quade Cooper took the quick tap and dived over in the left corner. He pushed the resulting kick right and it is still anybody’s game.

Right before the break the Vikings earnt a penalty for the jackal right in front of the posts, and Hawera puts it through and we go into the sheds with the Vikings holding onto a 10-7 game.


Scott Gale spots a gap in the Canberra defensive line

The second half began and the showers and strong wind continued. The Vikings won an early penalty and Hawera stepped up to take a 35m kick from the right of the posts, which was a bold call in the conditions. Off the boot though, it never looked like missing and the Vikings were out to an eight point advantage, vital given the weather.

Brisbane City began to play like they needed to score twice and began to take the ascendancy across the park. Some fierce defence from the Vikings with Valetini and Ikitau in particular putting on some big hits.

City took advantage of some of this field position and after a series of dives at the line it was Brandon Paenga-Amosa who crossed and City was right in it. Cooper missed the relatively easy conversion but at 13-10, it was still anyone’s game.

Another couple of scrum penalties saw the Vikings pack get a warning and it soon saw someone in the bin, with tighthead Tom Ross earning a spell, wiping a big clod of mud from his eye as he made his way to the naughty chair.

If City were going to win it, this was their time to do it but they simply couldn’t take advantage of the situation, with some dedicated Vikings defence and the injection of wily half Joe Powell seeing the Vikings actually come closer to scoring. Powell was excellent in his limited time on the field, marshalling the troops and holding out the City attack.

Eventually, Damon Murphy had enough of the bog and blew his whistle and it was the Vikings who booked their ticket to the semi finals and left Brisbane City wondering what might have been. To their credit, the Vikings probably deserved to win, they controlled the game better and overcame a wonky set piece to edge out a gallant, but perhaps a little too one dimensional City outfit.


The Vikings pack were out-muscled in the scrum but relentless around the field

The Game Changer

City had the chance to win the game when they had the man advantage and just couldn’t do it. Other than that it was a tight affair that was hamstrung by the diabolical weather.


In such a tight affair, it was not an easy job to pick. Len Ikitau was strong and dangerous as was Tom Banks, but for my money it was Wharenui Hawera who controlled the pace of the game and spun it wide when needed. His goal kicking was the ultimate difference in a game where City scored more tries..

Rising Star Watch

To fit in with the new award being awarded by the NRC for those with limited Super Rugby (or test in the Drua’s case) experience, the brains at GAGR will also be picking their Rising Star in each game. Both City and the Vikings put up contenders today but it was City number 8 Sam Wallis who stood out today. He got through a mountain of work and was solid in defence. The City game plan demanded a lot of the pack today and Wallis delivered in spades.

Scores and Scorers

Brisbane City: 10

Tries: Quade Cooper, Brandon Paenga-Amosa

Conversions: Quade Cooper 0/2

Canberra Vikings: 13

Tries: Len Ikitau

Conversions: Wharenui Hawera 1/1

Penalties: Hawera 2/2

Photo Gallery (courtesy Stephen Tremain)


  • Gipetto

    Cooper was excellent but some of his team mates thought they had his skill; they were sadly mistaken. Sorovi replaced Gale at the 70 minute mark – Heenan is not a great coach. Gale made some poor decisions. Paenga-Amosa, the Smiths and Wallis were great.


      Those Smith boys are an absolute joy to watch.. .. and I’m no forwards guy whatsoever. QUADE was absolutely brilliant at times. . ..and considering it was very wet and muddy.. ..even more impressive. Well done Vikings.

  • Bobas

    Whilst I think the better team won this game, the referee was only ever happy to referee the ruck if he had to acknowledge its formation after an attempted maul hold up. It was pretty much a free for all unless he had to call ‘tackle’.

    • MST

      Fortunately the referring did not influence the result but it did leave me puzzled. Right from the first scrum I think we got a clear insight to the (already decided based on previous games) picture he was going to see with the scrums all day. City 9 fed the ball in and it stayed at the feet of BPA as he was unable to strike at the ball. So when the scrum goes down he penalises the Vikings; not the team who was unable to strike at the ball.

      I also agree with your free-for-all comment.

      My favorite was the short-held up call to deny the Vikings a try. Yelling it short at the Vikings player then calling it held up as he is trying to play it still has me stumped.

      Great game to watch considering the awful conditions.

      • Bobas

        Yeah the short then held up was a classic soft call. But there really was no line due to the pitch conditions there.
        How did Valetini get back in after being subbed? Blood? There is no HIA for NRC.

        • MST

          No line would have made it hard but shouldn’t that tend to favour the attacking team when you that close if here is no line? No idea with the subs.

      • disqus_NMX

        There is no obligation to hook the ball in a scrum. I don’t understand why you think that would cause a penalty reversal.

        • Nutta

          Law 19.22 – The hooker from the team which threw in the ball must strike for the ball. Sanction: Free-kick.

        • disqus_NMX

          I stand corrected. There are some strange laws in this game!

        • Nutta

          The early sub-part to the law talk about any front-rower may strike and also winning possession by walking forward etc etc but it’s not until you get down as far as .22 that they actually just come out and say it. Convoluted way of doing it.

        • disqus_NMX

          19.18 Possession may be gained by pushing the opposition backwards and off the ball.

          19.20 Front-row players may gain possession by striking for the ball but only once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel. Sanction: Free-kick.

          19.22 The hooker from the team which threw in the ball must strike for the ball. Sanction: Free-kick.

          The problem with just reading the laws is the interpretation. Yes, it says the feeding team’s hooker must strike for the ball, but it doesn’t give a time frame. And it is clear from 19.20 that he doesn’t have to be successful with his strike, as any other front rower is also allowed to contest for it by striking.

          So my question is, did he strike for it and miss it, and thus fulfilled his obligations? Or did he not yet strike for it, but the opposition collapsed before the required time frame for the strike had expired? Or did the ref make a mistake and miss this law?

        • Nutta

          What did the Ref actually do? Law 6.5.A. Buggered if I know but it stuck.

          Given the height and power of scrums these days, if a prop takes a foot off the ground to strike then he is likely making a career ending decision

          I do remember back in the mid 90’s I played with a particularly short and powerful front row at a country NSW club relatively well-known for good scrums. We would drive opposing front rows down onto their thighs to disrupt their shape and we kicked a ton of 3pters out of it. But it made striking from such a low height very hard for me (as the hook). So we developed a process where I didn’t strike per-se but just dragged my left knee up and angled out so i didn’t have to spoil my shape and we could stay low. Our halfback fed the ball by bouncing it off the outside of my knee back into the channel1. As long as the breakaway was aware it worked well – solid target, good angle and pretty easy to coordinate. The best bit was it doesn’t make the Hook twist his hips out of shape or have to lift up to make the strike. Then scrums got higher with the introduction of the calling requirements and it all changed. Now the game has moved on again and we’ve gone back to good scrum height again I’m going to give it a go with a scrum this next season.

        • MST

          No attempt due to strike I assume due to the pressure. The Referee was not looking under the scrums most of the game. A few of the City players clicked to this (fair play to them) and actually had knees on the ground post engagement to help with stability in the slippery conditions then stood up after the weight had come on. In another you could see the City players head go down first. Generally he was looking from above and guessing. Overall the City scrum was much better and stronger the majority of the time so it was pretty harsh on the few occasion the Vikings got it right but copped the raw end of his calls.

        • Brumby Runner

          You are just wrong Disqus. It is a law that has been consistently applied by refs this year until this game.

  • Huw Tindall

    So are the Vikings any chance next week? Can they contain Fiji through tight disciplined rugby? Seems like you can’t keep the Drua out if they’ve got a bit of space. Their offload game is up there with the ABs.

    • MST

      They could do it. They were close last week going down by 5 to the Drua in Fiji. They came back from a fair deficit but blew a few chances late on and fell short.

      • Huw Tindall

        That was sans Banks as well. TK could be a very slim chance of coming back next week too I believe.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Problem for the Vikings is that they will need to be disciplined for the full 80. If they play poorly for even a 10 min stretch the Drua could easily score twice or even three times and that will be that.

    • Nutta

      The Drua have a poor scrum (worse than Vikings) and the Vikings have a better lineout as well. But across the park the Drua have the skills.

      Dry & fast track then it will be for the Drua’s to lose. They are simply too good 1-15 with the ball and with ant-hilling through any break

      Wet & heavy track then it will be for the Vikings to lose by squeezing the Drua out via set-piece.


    Haha yeah. .. . shows the confidence they’re playing with if nothing else. Not sure if it’s both of them but I’ve seen them do the odd kick(in the dry)

  • dru

    I thought the key difference were line outs and turnover. City I don’t think ever contested a Viking throw (not hard to guess most would go to Arnold!) and lost plenty of their own. The Vikings often took the turnover – a net loss of possession to City, even with the scrummaging.

    Tough wet weather footy. Well done Vikings.

  • Nutta

    Big ups to the Smiths. No could have asked more from them. Loved watching the game just for them and the scrumming alone.

    Kicking goals in the wet is vital.

    Putting those two elements together, given the Qld scrum dominance, I was surprised to not see smarter play from QC & co to centre the game at the Viking 22 in the middle of the ground and play for the knock-ons > scrum > penalty > 3pts. Even if Qld had ‘accidently’ knocked it on, with the penalties they were getting the game was there for the taking. It’s old fashioned stuff that is the basics of wet-weather game management. Ah well…

    • Brumby Runner

      It would have been a bit of a travesty though Nutta. The Vikings were the more threatening side in the game and missed at least three golden opportunities at scoring tries.

      Hyne absolutely murdered a try by not passing to Muirhead (?) with the line open about 15m away.

      Some doubt about the ref’s call when Valetini went over or near under the posts, and Mann-Rea went just a little too early imo off the rolling maul to be held up over the line. Vikings definitely had the more scoring opportunities and were deserved winners on the day.

      • Nutta

        Oh I agree the Vikings played the more diverse game. And I agreed with the authors point about Qld being 1 dimensional. But you don’t win simply by deserving better ratings. That’s what I’m saying – if pretty much all you have as a comparative strength is a bloody over-powering scrum then manage the game accordingly and exploit that strength especially on a wet day. Force the game into their half in centre-field with smart kicking and 1st & 2nd phase options then turn the screws with heavy contact. I confess in 3 of my ex clubs we quite willingly used such tactics and I well remember the Wobblies exiting a RWC at the hands of England in 07 on the same tactic. Use what you have. That’s rugby.

    • Happyman

      Mate what was also apparent at the game was how much on field leadership the they (Smiths) provided. The chat from them was always positive and pretty smart. The conditions actually suited the Vikings and although they got owned at scrum time the back row of the vikings was much more physical and dynamic around the park. If the game were played in the dry I think the result would have been different in my view..

  • Brumby Runner

    Good summary Ben, and I agree with your choice of MOTM. Hawera edged Quade on the day and his goal kicking all season has been excellent. In those conditions, he had the backline humming on occasions and Vikings were unlucky not to score a couple more tries. Some great defence by City though, denied Banks a try in the Right hand corner while Hyne just murdered a try in the first half by not passing inside to an unmarked runner with the line open.

    Scrums were always going to be a problem for the Vikings with a 20yo (Ross) lined up against the experienced JP Smith who some think is of international standard, and a local club player (Vunipola Fefita) against Ruan Smith an experienced Super Rugby player on the other side. I was surprised by how strong the Vikings scrum was in the conditions and circumstances, and think that Tom Ross can take a lot out of that contest, despite the YC.

    I continue to be impressed with Darcy Swain in the second row, and I thought Lausi Taliauli had one of his best games for the Vikings. Had a lot of carries and made good metres in contact.

    • Gipetto

      Hawera played surprisingly well but Quade was better. The Vikings backs Andy Muirhead, 12. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 13. Len Ikitau , 14. Lausii Taliauli, 15. Tom Banks were superior. Quade had to do the backline work on his own with K. Hunt out of the action. Gale made bad decisions for 70 minutes and the Brisbane centres often looked as clueless as McCabe and Two Dads when they played in the world cup in NZ

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Yep there’s a few players in that City team people where a tad too quick to sing there praises of at the start of the NRC.


      Wouldn’t agree on Hawera bettering Quade if we’re talking personal performance. But Hawera was good off the tee and had a more cohesive backline around him tho so that worked well for him. Like all season, Quade once again served up quite a few chances that the inexperienced City backs failed to capitalize on. Far to many sure thing tries aswell.

      Did anyone see those AMAZING left foot kicks Quade pulled off under huge pressure, in the wet and gained good Metets too. That one he where he slid towards the sideline. …..scooped up the ball. …flicked it behind him. …raced to regather beat a tackler and still got the ball away in a way only Quade can.

  • Tim

    Sounds a challenging afternoon for the lads. Glad to see the Vikes get up. And well down the Mr Tremain for getting some great shots in the wet conditions.

Brisbane City NRC

Passionate about rugby from the grass roots up. Usually found at Brisbane club rugby games, or being involved in the junior and schools system. Love a chat, happy to admit when I'm wrong. I will watch any game of rugby regardless of who is playing, from juniors through to tests

More in Brisbane City NRC