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Grand Final Winners!

It was a great day to be a Viking! After a heart-wrenching 2015 Grand Final day where Vikings lost all six Grand Final games, 2016 proved to be much more successful. Four out of our five teams won premierships, two in dramatic fashion.

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First Division Second Grade

It was a great day to be a Viking! After a heart-wrenching 2015 Grand Final day where Vikings lost all six Grand final games, 2016 proved to be much more successful. Four out of our five teams won premierships, two in dramatic fashion.

Ten minutes into the game Vikings club leading scorer Andrew Dickson was able to get through Wests line with a brilliant pass from Cameron Shaw. Dickson sprinted down the side of the field with only one defender in front of him. He offloaded to Owen Barker who took the ball the last 30 metres and got the Vikings on the board first, taking a 5-0 lead.

A high tackle penalty at midfield five minutes later gave Wests the ball deep in their own territory. They capitalized by scoring near the posts and converting. Taking the lead 7-5. Wests added two penalty goals before halftime taking the lead to 13-5. Vikings had a chance with two minutes left in the half but knocked-on just short of the try line.

The halftime speech must have been a good one because the Vikings defence stepped up, not allowing Wests any opportunity to score again. It wasn’t all rainbows and roses as penalties and mistakes were giving the Vikings supporters flashbacks of last year’s disastrous day. The boys fought back after a bad kick into touch by Wests gave Vikings the lineout at their 22 metre line. Quick passes to the opposite side of the field got two Vikings into open field with one Wests defender. A last second offload gave a try in the corner to Riley Banks. Dickson lined up on the sideline and showed what he does best and bent it through the uprights into the wind, closing the gap to 13-12 with 24 minutes remaining.

With a penalty against Wests in front of the uprights 30 metres out it was a no-brainer for Dickson to the take points on offer and put Vikings in the lead 15-13 with 19 minutes on the clock. Another penalty against Wests a few minutes later was another chance for Dickson to extend the lead. This kick was only 20 metres out and gave Vikings a lead of 18-13.

The game continued back and forth as the play stayed mainly between the 22 metre lines. With 15 minutes remaining a scrum was packed on the Vikings side of the field with a feed to the redmen. A play of the ball by Richard Joyes moved the team down the sideline. A pass to Barker on the outside almost broke him free, but a shoestring tackle and a pass to captain Adam Meyer who was held up over the line. An unfortunate injury to Wests Director of Rugby Craig Robberds held the game up for a few moments, before Shaw scored a great individual try under the sticks which Dickson had no issues converting to take the score to 25-13. The boys exercised the demons of 2016 and set the stage for the rest of the day.

Fittingly, Andrew ‘Chewy’ Dickson was named the Man of the Match for the work of his boot, converting two tries and kicking the two penalty goals.

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Colts

Vikings vs Royals in the Colts division has been dominated by Royals during the last two seasons. With Royals winning the 2015 Grand Final in dramatic fashion and easily defeating Vikings during the 2016 season, this game wasn’t setup to be a nail biter. However, Vikings stepped on to the field with the mantra “it only takes one”, without a win against Royals in the last 12 months they knew if they only win one game, it needed to be this one.

The Vikings held the ball much of the first part of the game, even getting across the goal line but being held up. However, 15 minutes in an errant pass saw Royals take an intercept 80 metres for the first score of the game. Conversion was made and Vikings trailed 7-0. The boys continued to fight and remained the aggressors by taking the ball down the field and causing Royals errors. A Vikings knock-on saw Royals pick up the ball and go 60 metres for the try and conversion. Only 20 minutes into the game and the redmen were trailing 14-0.

Vikings fans were not deter because it was obvious these players were out playing Royals with their offence and defence, but just need to stop the mistakes. This was proven true when captain Cameron Holt finally got the Vikings on the board with 8 minutes remaining in the half. Geoff Robertson converted and they had closed the gap to 14-7.

Another mistake on the kick off gave Royals the ball at their own 22 metre line, which quickly resulted in Royals scoring their third try of the day.  Missed conversion made the score 19-7 to Royals going into the break.

After halftime Vikings again challenge Roayls near their try line and Royals were no match of the quickness of Eddie Jones and his no look pass combined with the strength and power of Antonio Vailoaloa who took on two defenders and pushed them across the line. Robertson kicked the conversion again, superbly filling the boots of the injured Jayden Macken. Vikings still trailed Royals 19-14.

The next possession gave a penalty for Vikings and Robertson lined up for a penalty kick to bring the boys even closer on the scoreboard, 19-17.

Royals were next to tick the points over after a scrum, and extend their lead to 26-17 with only 17 minutes remaining in the game.

After back and forth play, you could see the will of both teams trying to become the victors. Mistakes and penalties plagued both side. Royals were on their heels as the play was on the Vikings half of the field. A kick-chase by the most unlikely of suspects in hooker Sam Thomas gave the Vikings 5 more points. Thomas put the boot on the ball and out ran two Royals backs to the get to the ball and score, 26-22 to Royals with only 8 minutes remaining.

Both teams again made mistakes, knock-ons and penalties prevent either side from getting any momentum to end the game. The emotions from both sides of supporters were up and down, when Royals took the ball and just needed to hold on to get down the field their ball handling would let them down. When the Vikings were pushing down the field and threatening to score a penalty or knock-on would halt them.

The break came when Royals knocked on with under two minutes remaining. A scrum feed to Vikings at the 22 metre line, the boys pushed down to their line. A big push by Darcy Swain who carried four Royals with him got the team within 2 metres of the goal line. A penalty against Royals with no time remaining, a quick tap by Luke Dawes, a run by Swain and a final pickup and dive by Nick Cushan gave the Vikings the thrilling 27-26 victory. After the agony of last year’s last second loss, the boys answered this year with a last second win.

Man of the Match honours went to Cam Holt.

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Women

The Viqueens headed into Saturday’s Grand Final trying to get revenge for last year’s loss to Royals. With an undefeated 2016 season the girls looked primed to clinch the Premiership, but it wasn’t to be on this day.

After taking out Uni Norths in the Major-Semi Final with a last second penalty goal, the Viqueens headed into the game confident but missing some key pieces with Shellie Milward and Narelle Johnstone who both sustained ankle injuries in the previous weeks. The Viqueens were the first on the board with a great play by Kate Brown blocking a Royals kick out of the Viqueens try zone. The ball bounced around between players and landed in the hands of Tayla Stanford, with a kick from the accurate Nikki Da’Quino, Viqueens lead 7-0.

Several penalties awards to Royals gave them their first try of the day as they broke though the Viqueens line and scored under the posts. Royals quickly tied up the game at 7-7. Royals were also able to kick a penalty goal after more penalties and several called back advantages, taking the lead 10-7 into halftime.

A strong defense by both sides kept the score level until the Vikings broke through with another Royals mistake. After a Viqueens knock on near their own tryline saw Royals attempt to make a clearing kick, it landed in the hands of Da’Quino on the sideline and she sprinted forward and was able to score in the corner. With the wind and angle the conversion was a tough make, so the Viqueens took the lead 12-10.

The Viqueens took the next possession into their end of the field with great speed by the backs and power running from the forwards. Continued phases of pressure saw Royals defense hold up and Viqueens ended their possession with a knock-on only 15 metres from their try line. Tough defense by the Viqueens kept the Royals out, and an untimely yellow card was given to Kate Brown.

Again a number of penalties kept the ball with Royals and after a misplay of a scrum feed gave the ball back to Royals. Viqueens couldn’t keep the Royals out of of the scoring with six minutes remaining. Royals had reclaimed the lead 17-12.

The end of the game saw the Viqueens have several opportunities and threaten to score but nerves seem to have gotten the best of them with several ball handling errors. The game ended with a 17-12 scoreline and a disappointed Viqueens squad scratching their heads with the first loss of 2016.

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Second Grade

By Jess Allardyce

Vikings 2nd Grade went in to the Grand final as clear underdogs but still on the back of some good training and late season form and a clear plan to make it happen on the day.

The Queanbeyan Whites had been the most consistent team all year and they had a glut of possession in the first half throwing everything at the Vikings line. the redmen made too many errors and couldn’t quite clear the ball out from their own half. Despite the errors, the dedicated defence from Vikings kept the Whites to just two penalty goals and this would prove significant. After the first half arm wrestle, and a try to Junior Sotogi the Whites had the most slender of leads at 6-5.

At halftime the players were composed and confident that they hadn’t really started to play yet and had plenty of juice in the tank. Vikings were ready to stick to their game plan for the next 35 mins and with their catch cry of “no tomorrow” ringing loud, the points would soon follow.

Very few could have predicted the second half dominance that was about to unfold. Vikings scrum clicked and started to pressure the previously dominant Whites scrum. The maul was unstoppable as a patient Junior Sotogi helped himself to his second Grand Final try at the back of the maul, and tireless captain Liam McGrath crashed over after 8 phases of forward surges on the Queabeyan line.

The Whites tried to keep in touch with two long range penalty goals but a Frankie Fainifo try sealed it for the redmen in what was one of the best Grand Final performances by this team in recent times. Queanbeyan crashed over for a consolation try on the final bell but the Vikings 2nd Grade had executed brilliantly to be Champions of 2016, with the final score 27-17.

Man of the Match was Siope Naeata.

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John I Dent Cup

By Keiran Deck

The final seven minutes of the Vikings 2016 Grand Final victory won’t be easily forgotten. Three times the referee blew his whistle for a Whites penalty and, somehow, the Vikings kept them out.

The attack in the final stages began when Queanbeyan won a Tuggeranong lineout 15-metres out. Vikings were four points ahead, 26-22, thanks to semi-final hero Isaac Thompson.

The fly-half nailed a conversion after the Vikings’ most recent try, from near the sideline. The two points ultimately meant a penalty goal wasn’t an option for the Whites in the dying stages.

But a Queanbeyan five-pointer seemed very much on the cards as they strung together phase after phase. The third and final penalty came right in front of the posts and the boys went back to the scrum.

Whites’ fullback Robbie Coleman ran the final hit-up, but even his speed couldn’t break the Vikings defence. Another ruck formed when OJ Noa tried to tunnel to the right-side of the breakdown.

He was stopped short of the line again, Vikings fans still holding their breath. Who else, but a 20-year-old blond-haired playmaker, to make the decisive play? If you watch the replay closely, you can see Jordan Jackson-Hope’s lower back high as his head digs in for the ball.

The pilfer-attempt forced the referee to blow the penalty to Vikings, pinning Noa for not releasing the ball. Jackson-Hope capping off an outstanding Australian winter that saw him make his Super Rugby debut, and tour with the Australian U20s team.

Vikings hands went into the air in equal parts celebration and relief, the sound of the referee’s whistle flushing away bad memories of 2015.

Of course, the 73-minutes of rugby before these final stages set-up the heart stopping victory. The game started with a lack of vision.

Thompson was the unlikely villain from the kick-off, dropping the ball – the low winter sun a fair excuse if he wants it. Vikings’ scrum, with plenty of experience but billed as the smaller of the two packs, faced an early test.

Carl Elliot grabbed the first points of the game, digging in next to the breakdown and falling on a blade of paint. 7-0.

At the press conference during the week both coaches played coy – saying their sides had similar games. But through their respective periods of dominance in 2016, the keen observer could see clear differences to each side’s method of scoring points: Vikings were dangerous from long range, thanks to their backline cohesion and speed. Whites, on the other hand, were deadly when they edged their way into the red zone.

As if to illustrate the point, Vikings levelled the scores minutes later with an exciting short side attack from 60-metres out. Powell, quick to Smith, fast hands to Butler, onto Knight who drew in the winger while inviting the touch line out to dinner, and sent it back inside to Jackson-Hope to score under the posts. 7-all.

The Whites and Vikings met twice in the regular season and both times the match was decided by less than four points. The second time, the Vikings defeated Queanbeyan on their home turf with an outstanding defensive display, making 250+ tackles.

Long-serving Viking Prop Sione Taula told his team mates during the week that this would be his last game. He’d hinted at retirement in 2015, but a red card in the semi-final against Queanbeyan forced him out of the Grand Final and made him reconsider. On Grand Final day 2016, the Vikings were pleased to have his experience in the scrum.

Taula also provided the essential leg drive in a maul that gave the Vikings the lead in the 28th minute. The try was scored by Dean Oakman-Hunt, who had the honour of wearing Christian Lealiifano’s boots in the match.

Oakman-Hunt politely refused the offer, but Lealiifano wouldn’t take no for an answer. The Brumbies skipper, in hospital for cancer treatment, asked Jackson-Hope to give Oakman-Hunt the boots at training. Oakman-Hunt wore his hero’s boots in a match to remember. The Vikings stars were playing for Lealiifano as he prepares for his next life challenge.

A penalty in front of the sticks a short time later helped the Whites narrow the margin to four. Vikings had another opportunity to score before half time but the Whites kept them out. A kick for touch helped the Whites to within striking distance after the half time siren and Sokai Tai dug a second tunnel through Vikings’ defence, to nudge his side to a three-point half time lead.

The Whites’ backline combined for the next points, 13 grinding minutes into the second half. Andrew Smith finished it, but Brendan Spears was unable to add the extras. It would prove to be a crucial two-points. 22-14.

Fans were treated to another display of athleticism in the 60th-minute, when Ernest Suavai – who missed out on a start in the 2015 Grand Final – dived over ala Jerome Niumata inside the right touch line.

Thompson missed the conversion and the margin was back to three. 22-19.

The rolling maul produced the final try of the game five-minutes later, when hooker Michael Henry crossed. The 24-22 score line placed pressure on Thompson to make the conversion. Flags raised, Vikings staved off the possibility of a penalty kick ruining their day.

As predicted by both coaches, the match went to the wire. The final minutes became crucial because both sides played impressive defensively in the back-half of the game.

For the third time this season, a match between the Whites and the Vikings was decided by four-points or less. The John I Dent Cup is back in the Vikings hands, and the competition is well and truly alive.

Vikings

Tries: Jackson-Hope, Oakman-Hunt, Suavai, Henry

Conversions: Thompson (3)

Whites

Tries: Elliot, Tai, Smith

Conversions: Spears (2)

Penalties: Spears