Vikings win under new coach
By Douglas Hall
Vikings v Blaydon development
This was the first game of an exciting new era for the Whitley Bay Rockcliff Vikings. Following last week’s historic announcement that Dean Harrison would be the dedicated 2nd Team Coach it was his first game in charge. Joining manager Spelk Dean’s role is will be to ensure the Vikings maintain their progression which has seen them win 2 cups in as many years and provide a competitive environment for everyone, Whether it be someone pushing First Team or a Ranger/Colt looking to make that step up.
His first job was a tough one…selection. With National League Blaydon sending their Development team to Hillheads on Saturday Dean had some tough decisions to make. This was made harder by over 35 bodies at training on Thursday meaning some lads wouldn’t make the cut. Toma, Dossy and Drew Sharlow were selected in the Front Row. Stand in Captain Cormack once again linked up with Ben Butler. Tom Crame, Paul White and Jonny Birkett completed the pack. “Ol stumpy” himself Chris Foster was at 9 with the retuning Chris Waddell at 10. The unstoppable centre pairing of James Purvis and Gibbo had Dan Rule and Charlie Muzz on the wings with Jack Bland at full back. Arguably the strongest teams of the season was completed by an equally as strong bench featuring Matt Daly, Jamie, Alex and Bazza. Fair play to Jamie who was called into work but still managed to sneak away to play...much to my surprise at half time!
The game kicked off and a big Blaydon team hammered the Vikings line. Despite a strong warm up the Vikings looked shell shocked and some feared the worse. Chris Wadell calmed the nerves with a cheeky drop goal from the base of a ruck. More pressure from the visitors but after a number of handling errors Rockcliff did what they have done all season and dominated at scrum time. Following one on the half way line Paul White charged at the Blaydon line and wasn’t stopped. Foz added the points. At the next scrum a trademark Birkett pick and go caused havoc and allowed Charlie Muzz to race in, again converted by Foz. Rockcliff couldn’t believe how dominant they were being and a near perfect second quarter followed. James Purvis scored a well worked try and then Matt Daly got in on the action following a line out steal from Skipper Cormack, Daly crossed the white wash with 3 of Blaydon players clinging onto him. Blaydon did score a consolation try but at half time the Vikings were in a commanding position and Dean GAFFERny (see what I did there) was full of praise.
In the second half Rockcliff did what Dean asked and continued their onslaught. After a great line out take from Tom the ball fell to Waddell and his eyes lit up when a gap appeared so he raced in from 60 meters to score. Gibbo completed a good team move and Blandy added the extras. Some strong defence and superior fitness kept out a determined and physical Blaydon for most of the half but they did get another try towards the end however by then the ref had seen enough and blew for full time. 45-10.
This victory ensured the Vikings took maximum points from the league fixture. And as it was a double header and the strange league system we find ourselves in it somehow means we got 18 points! With the other teams above losing the Vikings should be top of the league and now the real work will start. In order to maintain these excellent performances training and commitment is essential and with a coach there is no excuse!
The post team debrief it was agreed this was the best performance all season and we played with structure and physicality. Man of the match could have went to anyone but Chris Waddell got the nod from us with James Purvis getting a mention from Blaydon. No Donkey this week but two debut pints dished out for Matt Daly and Baz, the latter who stepped up from the 3s and didn’t look out of place. Exciting times ahead! Don’t miss out! #unbeaten2k19 #topoftheleague #deangaffneysvikinginvasion