Ashington v Vikings
By Douglas Hall
Vikings go from strength to strength
Whitley Bay Rockcliff Vikings continued their unbeaten run with a convincing victory over a strong Ashington side who are currently in the league above them.
Another excellent week of training which saw over 40 players at Hillheads and even more impressive was that Jonny Birkett trained twice for the first time since records began. This did mean some lads would miss out as competition for places increases leaving selection headaches for the dynamic coaching duo of Dean and Spelk.
Those chosen ones this week were Toma, Dossy and Dan Jackson in the front row. Dan staring at prop for the first time following an impressive scrum session on Thursday. It was a case of the Captain and his glamourous assistant in the second row as Simon Cormack again paired up with Ben Butler. A strong back row of Chris Keen and new lad Paul Leach were supported by Jonny Birkett. David Neasham was at 9 and had Chris Waddell outside him. The centres of Jamie Fenwick and Charlie Muzz had Dan Rule and the returning Connor Ball on the wings with Jack Bland at full back. On the bench there was Drew Hayton, Matt Daly and Paul White covering the forwards with Alex and Foz supporting the backs.
During the warm up Drew “Michael Fish” Hayton advised that the wind was due to stop by kick off so not to worry that the pitch looked a scene from Twister with tackle bags and warm up tops flying towards the quarry. However, the wind was still prevalent when Rockcliff kicked off and it did have an impact on the game. Playing into the wind Rockcliff “boxed clever” and played the conditions by running the ball at all opportunities, keeping line outs tight and dominating at scrums. Strong forward carries allowed space outside to be created and after 10 minutes of play Jamie Fenwick had completed his hat trick despite at one point being blown back 5 meters by a strong gust. The barrage continued with strong forward runs from Dan, Paul L and Toma allowing Rock to score even more with Charlie Muzz completing a “21” move 3 phases earlier than planned. Pick of the bunch came from a looping Ashington restart which found a static Jonny Birkett who with 4 defenders approaching injected some pace and a trade mark hand off to break the line and was supported by captain Cormack who ran in from 20 metres beating the full back and leading to many (one person) suggesting his name change from Mono to Multispeed.
With the wind behind them in the second half many feared for Ashington but credit to them they adapted and managed to exploit a weak and at times complement defensive line to score a couple of well worked trys but panic didn’t set in as the Vikings lead was extended by further scores for Muzz and Fenwick along with two great finishes by Dan Rule. Jonny Birkett competed a fine performance by getting one and Chris Waddell added two of his own. Waddell wasn’t just scoring points for fun he also manged to dump tackle 90% of their team in an impressive defensive performance. The bench came on and made a real impact one special mention to Foz who used his years of experience and size 3s to ensure the territorial battle was won by the home side with a fantastic kick.
The game finished 67-22 and the score line shows how dangerous Rock were in attack but also there is work to be done defensively. It’s still early days in the new set up for the Vikings and with some new additions alongside retuning faces these performances will hopefully continue. Once again, we dominated in key areas and the work in training is paying off and it is credit to the effort and commitment that people are putting in and have done all season. Men of the Match Jamie F and Dan Rule but special mentions to Jonny, Keeno and Neash. Vikings Donkey was weatherman Hayton not for his shocking predictions but for being held up over the line by the Ashington under 11s scrum half and there was also an incident with a medical bag that Jonny Birkett describes much better than I ever will.
Back to league action next week against Novos and with competition increasing training is crucial. #UTR