Brentwood 28 Vikings 22 Report from Paul Morse
The Vikings suffered just their fourth defeat but still earned two bonus points, courtesy of scoring four tries and losing by less then seven,
The Vikings suffered just their fourth defeat but still earned two bonus points, courtesy of scoring four tries and losing by less then seven, meaning they remain fourth. With both sides having identical records, Brentwood unbeaten at home and the Vikings on a run of four wins, a close result was anticipated; that looked unlikely ten minutes from time with Brentwood seemingly cruising at 28-10, only for the visitors to surge back with two late tries.
It was a disappointing but fair result. In a bruising encounter the Vikings had sufficient ball with Tom Coller, Ryan Oakes and Tom Williams dominating the lineouts, but they failed to capitalise sufficiently. Despite eight tries being scored, both teams defended well resulting in comparatively few scoring opportunities. The crucial difference was Brentwood were better at accepting their opportunities.
With the advantage of playing down a significant slope it was important the Vikings got first half points on the board, but most of the early play was in their half. Both teams were struggling to get across the gain line with the referee, as he did throughout, penalising liberally. In the fifteenth minute Brentwood quickly tapped a penalty on halfway and play went rapidly to the try line where Robert Hobbs scored; Henry Bird converted.
The Vikings then began to dominate and for most of the second quarter consistently pressurized Brentwood's line. Their reward though, an Aki Downing try after a driving maul, was insufficient. In a fifteen minute period good build up play created three try scoring opportunities only for the final passes to be poorly executed, thrice they were penalised in good positions and twice their otherwise impeccable lineout let them down in the home twenty two. Brentwood must have felt fortunate to be 7-5 ahead at half time.
The Vikings needed a positive start after the break but they found themselves defending immediately by failing to claim the kick off. For the next twenty minutes Brentwood kept coming down the slope and the Vikings just could not breakout. Their defence was impressive but their relieving kicks failed to find touch, meaning they were unable to take advantage of their lineout superiority and Brentwood could run back at them in broken play. Pressure told and converted tries by Jonny Crisp and Tom Simpson ten minutes apart put Brentwood 21 - 5 up with a quarter of the game left.
The Vikings' heads did not drop though and they launched a series of attacks. With ten minutes left, after a series of lineouts and penalties, Williams, who led from the front throughout, drove over. Then, almost at once, Brentwood made the game safe, and secured a bonus point, with a converted try from Adam Thomas.
Still the Vikings refused to go down meekly. Benney fielded a kick ten metres inside his half and burst through four tackles in a thirty metre run before offloading to Matt Hodgson who outstripped the defence. Sniffing bonus points the Vikings upped the tempo again and poured forward for Jono Lawson to get their fourth try in the final minute; Hodgson kept his nerve to convert and secure the second bonus point.
Nick Greenhall rued his side's lack of accuracy in the first half, but was pleased with their overall tenacity and the courage they showed in getting back into the game. Greg Kirkham, playing has last game before heading home to South Africa, was Chalk Hill Brewery Man of the Match.
Team: 15.Freddie Henley-Hunter14. Jon Younie13.Cory Malcolm12.Will Hodgson11.Ethan Benney10.Matt Hodgson9.Greg Kirkham1.Aki Downing2. Tom Browes 3.Neumi Rokodinono 4.Jono Lawson5.Tom Coller 6.Matty Norfolk-Clarke 7.Ryan Oakes 8.Tom Williams
Matt Oakes/Norfolk-Clarke (37 mins)
Dom Roberts/Rokodinono (40 mins)
Shane van Vuuren/Benney (51 mins)
Rokodinono/Roberts (61 mins)
Benney/Henley-Hunter (64 mins)
Tries: Downing; Williams; Matt Hodgson; Lawson
Conversion: Matt Hodgson
Yellow Cards: van Vuuren
Referee: Simon Matthews (London)