Déjà vu for Vikings
By Douglas Hall
Ryton v Vikings
Another week and another tough league fixture for the Whitley Bay Rockcliff Vikings! After last week’s late winner, the Vikings knew another quality performance against Ryton was required to secure much needed league points.
A strong squad assembled and with 90% of them at training either Tuesday or Thursday it was ideal preparation to face a team who were sitting 2nd in the strangest league format ever seen. Those making the trip over the water were Toma, Dossy and Drew Sharlow in the front row. Behind them Captain for the day Cormack paired up with Ben Butler and they were supported by an unchanged back row of Tom Crame, Chris Keen and Jonny Birkett. Behind the pack was Eggy at 9 and Chris Foster and his size 3s outside him. The centres were due to be Charlie Muzz and Gibbo however returning class clown Paul White turned up late and his first contribution to an intense warm up was booting Muzz in the head sending him straight to the RVI. (Big thanks to Sarah Hayton) A major reshuffle followed and Paul was rewarded for his act of savagery by starting on the wing with young Alex, Blandy and Tully filling the rest of the back line. A strong bench featuring Jamie and Drew Hayton. It also featured a real-life George and Lenny with returning from injury Scradz and new recruit Matt Daly.
The Vikings kicked off with a strong wind behind them and the conditions caused havoc for both teams. Numerous knock ons were welcomed by the Vikings pack who dominated at scrum time. The Ryton packed crumbled time after time and the ref had no choice but to award kickable penalties and with Foz on the pitch the decision was easy for Skipper Cormack who pointed to the posts, despite some protests from certain rotund members of the team. 6-0 after 10 minutes and a trade mark Jonny Birkett try put them further in front but the Vikings still weren’t performing to their best. Ryton had some good players and they scored three quick trys which was just the wake up call Rockcliff needed. Following some good phase play the Vikings turned over another scrum and marched towards the line however they were stopped illegally. Penalty try awarded. Half time 21-20 to the home team.
Manager Spelk played another crucial role. Making some clever changes to rest the well worked front row and some forced changes, due to injuries, various lads were asked to play out of position. Tom Crame went to the wing and had a blinder shutting down the threat from arguably Ryton’s best player. Jonny Birkett even had a cameo at centre, doing the job well. Ryton did score first to extend the lead to 6 points but Rock were still dominating at the set piece and some big hits coming from Scradz, Gibbo and Blady prevented them getting anywhere near the Rockcliff line again. Carries from Lenny gave Rockcliff front foot ball and from yet another scum Keeno dived over the line…unfortunately it was the 5 metre line but with the Ryton flanker laughing at him instead of getting the ball Big Red picked it back up and ran to the correct line to score. 26-25 with 5 minutes to go. Another nail biter. The much-rotated front row were clearly getting to Ryton with their number 1 swearing at the Ref and conceding a penalty on Rockcliff 5 metre line just when it looked like the home team were about to score. From the penalty Rockcliff ran the ball Cormack passed to Lenny (Daly) who charged down the pitch taking numerous Ryton players with him before offloading to young Alex who went under the posts and Chris Foster did the rest. Final score 32-26.
Last minute winner AGAIN. Vikings dominated set piece all game AGAIN Spelk’s inspired subs AGAIN. in the post game debrief we agreed that this was an important result and one that could have gone the other way. People stepped up to the plate and when we play our structure we are unbeatable. Training is clearly paying off as is the squad continuity. There was only 3 changes from last weeks team, which is unheard of at second team level.
Man of the Match: Tom Crame (Special mentions to Big Red, Alex & Jack Bland)
Coffee Johnny’s sponsored “Donkey” of the Match: Chris Keen (Not so special Mention to Paul White)