Diss 34 Vikings 36 Report from Graham Price
Close call but Vikings prevail
The scoreline suggests an end to end game, close throughout, the lead regularly changing hands. Far from it: Diss never led and at the break the Vikings, 36 -10 ahead, looked to be heading for a big win. The second half was though a complete contrast to the first with the visitors failing to score, and three tries in a dramatic final fifteen minutes seeing Diss so nearly snatch a draw or indeed victory.
The Vikings began confidently, passing the ball crisply, consistently crossing the gain line, recycling quickly. Within ten minutes it was 19 -0, a diffident Diss having barely touched the ball. Ryan Oakes pounced on an error to put Roydon Miller over for the first, Jim Riley raced onto James Knight's exquisite kick for the second and Will Hodgson burst through from thirty metres for the third, alertly touching down the loose ball when Diss failed to clear; Lee Thomson converted twice.
Diss then burst into life, scoring with their first meaningful attack. Steve Hipwell drove a hole through the middle, three quick breakdowns prefacing a trademark Chris Beaird try, the Vikings' defence outnumbered. As the breathtaking first quarter ended it became 24 - 5, Josh Brown weaving over after a quick tap penalty twenty metres out when Diss infringed as they scrambled to halt another attack.
The hosts then enjoyed their best first half spell, patiently working their way up field and retaining the ball through a series of drives close to the line before Shaquille Meyers dived over. It was a brief respite. The Vikings forwards reasserted their authority and, with halfbacks James Knight and Thomson managing the game, they poured forward. Hodgson got his second, converted by Thomson, after Riley had broken down the left. On the stroke of half time Oakes deservedly got the Vikings' sixth following a perfectly angled run by Miller to collect a pass from James Knight who had pierced the Diss defence.
Diss emerged for the second half determined to stem the flow. There was a greater cohesion and purpose about their play whilst the Vikings were subdued, their incisiveness and precision gone. Most early play was in the middle third but gradually Diss became dominant, pushing their opponents back at the scrums and their forwards punching through the Vikings' defence. Fifteen minutes in Diss were rewarded, Arron Forest converting his own try.
Diss' confidence grew, the Vikings compounding their difficulties by losing the ball in good positions: Diss' line was never pressurised. With fifteen minutes left Forest got another converted try: 24 - 36.
The Vikings then imploded. The free kick and penalty count mounted, set pieces lost, tackles missed, runners isolated. Meanwhile Diss looked assured with abundant possession and Meyers sniping away at scrum half. Ten minutes out Elliot Rayment made it 29 - 36 before close to full time, after a patient build up, Beaird piled over. Forest's kick went wide but the Vikings could not have felt hard done by had it snatched the draw.
James Brooks was stunned by the contrast in his team's performance. "Absolutely excellent in the first half but in the second we didn't look after the ball and our set piece was poor." He named Will Swart, hooker in the first half, flanker in the second, as Chalk Hill Brewery Man of the Match, commenting "he made a phenomenal number of tackles."
With twelve tries and Diss' pulsating comeback this was a great game for the neutrals, not that there were many present. Diss remain tenth and the Vikings sixth.
Team: 15.Josh Brown14.Dan Smith 13.Mike Braans 12.Will Hodgson
11.Jim Riley10.James Knight 9.Lee Thomson1.Lachlan Brown-Bates 2.Will Swart3.Dane Canning4.Ryan Oakes5.Todd Scotland 6.Tom Knight 7 Chris Godwin
Tom Browes/Canning (25 mins)
Acky Downing/Brown-Bates (25 mins)
Lachlan Brown-Bates/Godwin (42 mins)
Jake Duffield/ Riley (63 mins)
Canning/Downing (63 mins)
Tries: Miller; Riley; Hodgson (2); Brown; Oakes
Conversions: Thomson (3)
Referee: Mike Lamb (South East Group)