"A must win game "
By Douglas Hall
Vikings v Berwick
Following a heavy festive break, the boys in cardinal & gold marshaled at Fortress Hillheads against Berwick the league leaders Berwick , therefore this match was promising to be a battle of the two league heavyweights.
Their KO, and from the off we could sense their quality. Very quick in the breakdown and counter, their pace did us, and despite some cheeky Rock play we were 0-14 down, 20 minutes in. Panic time? Not quite. In previous seasons this is where we’d get dismantled, but we rallied together. Captain Mono employing positivity (no, really) and we turned up the tempo of this ode to physicality. Charlie Muzz with a hard ruck, KO’ing a Berwick lad for a good 20 minutes, suspected neck damage so an ambulance was called. The Berwick boy then sat-up like The Undertaker and walked off before the ambulance came, no major injuries? Deep heat is magic !!
Half-time came, 0-14 down. This was a must win game for the Vikings
The Capitan called and the team answered.
Mono demanded that we need to get in their faces and that we did
No subs were made, we needed to keep this rhythm and force them to play to our own song, a ballad of rocks attacking options. This paid off, a literal tonne of Rock men dominating the scrums, so much so we somehow drove into the posts, forcing Dossy to stand-up to avoid neck damage and hence bizarrely get pinged? Regardless, our intensity did not falter, and hard play including a signature nasty Jonny Birkett hand-off meant both him & captain Mono went over the whitewash, the latter bravely playing on despite an injured shoulder. Blandy converting, 14-14. We had them rattled, and after this try we made our subs.
Finding a second wind they held us deep in our own half, then scoring a penalty kick meant they were 14-17 up. No matter, we were destined to win this game, and following a Houdiniesque Tibbs turnover, we were back upfield, giving them nightmares. One highlight was Ted Bundy lookalike/club gobshite/wardrobe-with-tits Hendy blowing a Berwick lad away with the big shoulder. As the would-be defender opted to not use his arms to tackle Tynemouth’s favourite son, he was pinged for a body check. No arguments as he lay on the deck, trying to work-out what force of nature he had just encountered. We built on this, tidied up our play and maintained our composure, scoring two final tries through Tomma & James Purvis. Rock then professionally saw the match out, sealing the win.
This match, for me, really symbolizes how much the club have progressed throughout the season. Berwick away was a painful lesson in rugby, but today we turned it around using our well-organised play mixed with pace and sheer brutality. Everyone in cardinal & gold should be proud today, onwards to the title!
Final Score: 24-17 (Purvis, Birkett, Tomma & Mono)
MOTM: They voted James Purvis, for scoring our last try and making a huge impact in his ten minutes of game time.
We voted Drew Shardlow, another textbook Shardlow game of intelligence, strength and spirit. A major player in our comeback, didn’t allow anyone’s head to drop as the VC.
DOTD: Tomma, despite being a certified unit (and scoring) this lad chose to just stand and watch our 14-man maul rumble on over their line (and then the ball getting held up) bad craic.