Rockcliff Viking v Percy park
By Douglas Hall
Vikings Do It Again.
Whitley Bay Rockcliff Vikings secured their 3rd consecutive trophy by defeating rivals Percy Park. On a sunny spring day Rockcliff were fortunate enough to hosting the final on the AGP thanks to the hard work of Karl Briggs.
Showing the strength in depth Rockcliff managed to put out a competitive side despite unavailability and injuries. In the front row was Drew, Doug and Matt Daly. An unchanged second row of Butler and Cormack had flankers of Chris Keen and Tom Crame with ex Park captain Greg Dixon at number 8. David Neasham was at 9 with Chris Waddell moving back to fly half. A centre pairing of Gibbo and James Purvis had Connor Ball and Tibsey on the wings with Jack Bland at full back. On the bench this week was Dossy, Paul Leach and Connor Reed and back replacements of Matty Brister, Darren Mee and Barry. In another display of the #oneclub mentality several Rangers assisted during the warm up and a visibly shaken Andrew Sarin commented that the warm up was slightly different to his usual pre- game tab whilst trying to touch his toes.
From the kick- off the large crowd could sense this was going to be a tough game. Park had a good mix of youth and experience and were running the ball at every opportunity. However, Rock knew to play to their strengths and soon got some momentum with big forward carries and set piece dominance. Following a period of possession Matt Daly scored the first try of the day after bulldozing his way through the defence. Park managed to get 2 trys (including one for ex Rockcliff man Jonny Gould) either side of a Jack Bland penalty. A badly chipped fingernail saw Tibsey having to go off and young Matty Brister came onto the wing and was up against former a former Samoa international. But Matty showed his class and after a huge pass from Waddell young Brister stepped Fa'atau and a covering defender to go in under the posts. A great moment that shows how bright the future is for this club. Park were getting frustrated and gave away numerous penalties and with Captain Cormack keeping a cool head the decision to take the points was easy. Credit to Jack Bland as the conditions weren’t ideal with a strong wind but Jack made sure with 2 more penalities before the break and Rock had a healthy lead. 21-10
Some changes were made by Deano Mourinho and they had a big impact. Connor Reed caught the restart and set off on great run. Supported by Cormack and Keen more yards were made before Ben Butler crashed over the whitewash to extend the lead. Bland increased his tally with another penalty to ensure that heading into the final quarter of match Rockcliff were in a commanding position. Percy Park had some quality players and did mount a comeback, scoring two trys and were just 5 points behind with 10 minutes remaining. A real nail biting finish with some on the side-lines being unable to watch. However, Rock called upon their superior fitness and began to play to their strengths. Keeping the ball tight Cormack caught the ball from a line out and in their desperation to steal the ball Park gave away a penalty and the ball was kicked out ensuring Rockcliff secured a famous victory. Final score 29-24.
This result was further evidence of how far the Vikings have developed. Rock outclassed their opponents in many crucial areas of the game and at the times when we executed our game plan we were unstoppable. Credit to Park they played their part in an exciting game to watch...not so great to play in until that final whistle went!
Too many stand out players to mention but Chris Keen got MOM from the forwards with mentions for Butler and Dixon. In the backs Connor Ball was outstanding in defence and ensured he got the award for the backs. Again, special mentions to Blandy, Waddell and young Matty. Lenny (Matt Daly) ensured his last input this season was collecting the DOD accolade for asking what the score was during the game. He has played for the club since January and had failed to spot the bright red scoreboard. Some info for any trivia fans; Simon Cormack, Douglas Hall and Conor Ball are the only players who have played all 3 cup finals.
There were some great celebrations in the club after and a thank you must go to everyone who has supported the Vikings so far. It’s great to see the Alickadoos and committee members getting behind the team and backing us it doesn’t go unnoticed. Also to Dean and Spelk who both spoke very openly and emotionally before the game which had a major impact in the performance. Since the creation of this coaching partnership the standard of performance has increased greatly and will continue to do so.
Looking ahead nothing changes keep training hard and committing in these final stages and lets ensure we can give ourselves the best chance of winning the league and supporting the 1st team in the final stages of what has been a fantastic season….but it can get even better.