Old Priorians 13 Vikings 17 Report from Paul Morse
Vikings dog it out to defeat OPs
The Vikings dug deep to come from behind to claim victory on a dull day in Perivale. Despite plenty of possession and territory they were 10 - 0 down after twenty five minutes, before showing self belief in abundance to take the lead with seven minutes left and withstand constant pressure until the end.
Johnny Marsters' squad showed five changes, four consequential from injuries at Colchester, including debuts for two eighteen year olds, James Cherry and recent signing Andre Dunn.
OPs went ahead after four minutes, Barney Wellings exploiting some weak defence, Ross McIntosh converting. Undeterred the Vikings began to dominate, moving the ball crisply, varying their lines of attack. Dunn was soon into the action with a thirty metre run. Clear scoring opportunities though eluded them, a mix of impatience, poor handling and imprecision, and some sound defence, keeping them out. They also failed to win a number of attacking lineouts on their own ball. A feature of the match was neither lineout functioned well, whereas in the scrums the Vikings were dominant, OPs regularly getting their ball going backwards.
Midway through the half an OPs player was yellow carded but the Vikings could not take advantage. Two minutes before returning to full strength OPs extended their lead, McIntosh kicking a penalty following only their fourth meaningful attack. Ten minutes from the break, the visitors finally turned pressure into points. Eschewing three points, they tapped a twenty metres penalty and after some quick hands and recycling, Lachlan Brown- Bates scored. 10 - 5 at half time.
The third quarter was largely one way traffic in the Vikings' favour. Using their runners much less, they forced OPs back with some neat kicks and kept the ball more with the forwards. Following some near misses they got their reward in the fifty fifth minute: OPs overthrew a lineout, Chris Godwin made thirty metres and after six well controlled drives Brown-Bates got his second.
It seemed as if the Vikings should now pull away but there were twists aplenty left in this intriguing contest. OPs soon won a penalty on one of their rare excursions into the visitors' territory, McIntosh making it 13 -10. Lesser sides would have folded but the Vikings stuck to the game plan, the match returning to its familiar pattern. Tom Browes was held up over the line after Ryan Oakes had won an OPs' lineout, then they were unable to control the ball at the resultant scrum.
With seven minutes left the Vikings finally got in front. Matt Hodgson broke through on half way and Swart was on hand to put Godwin over. Hodgson, who had earlier missed far easier kicks, converted from the touchline, meaning OPs needed a try for victory. For the first time in the match OPs now applied constant pressure but the Vikings, down to fourteen with Bill Vurewa in the bin, showed their defensive qualities soaking it up to secure the win.
"Really good performance" said Marsters. "The squad responded well to last week's disappointment........ showed their flexibility too by winning in a different style." He chose Will Swart as Coltishall Red Lion Man of the Match, "always in the action, full of commitment." Successful seasons are built on winning away on dull days at inhospitable places after long journeys, and this squad again showed they have the character to do that.
Team: 15.Ben O'Hickey 14.Vilikesa Vurewa13.Andre Dunn12.James Knight
11.Jim Riley 10.Matt Hodgson 9.Mike Braans1.Lachlan Brown-Bates2.Tom Browes3.Neumi Rokodinono 4.Ryan Oakes 5.Mat Travers 6.Will Swart
7.Chris Godwin8.Ed Sampson
George Youngs/Rokodinono (half time)
Dan Bird/Sampson (half time)
James Cherry/Travers (69 mins)
Tries: Brown-Bates (2); Godwin
Yellow Cards: Vurewa
Referee: Charlie Holmes (Buckinghamshire)