What can I say?  I know the Vikings have a habit of starting slowly, but today they took it a bit too far.  The boys really need to have a thought for the frazzled nerves and frayed vocal chords of the spectators!

Rather than go through my notes for the first half and describe each score and frustrating moment, I will just say that it ending with the Vikings down by six tries to one.  The half was littered with Viking handling errors, poor tackling, poor passing and a recurring failure to realign in defence.  It was looking like an embarrassing end to the Vikings' hopes for the Hampshire Cup. 

The coaches were pulling their hair out and using strong language like “blast” and “good grief” ( I think that’s what they said but I was on the opposite side of the pitch so it was hard to catch exactly what they were saying). Even the normally passive spectators were getting agitated. Cacper’s father, unable to bear it, had to leave and take the dog for a walk.  The writer himself, normally calm, positive and able to overlook poor play and lack of effort, found himself forgetting to record one of the scores having snapped his pen in half.  

So, with the exception of one try by Ciaran, the home team found themselves masters of the half, 30-5 up, and confidently looking forward to a comfortable second half and a place in the cup finals.  

How little did they know!

Was it the sun, the slope of the pitch, the soft-spoken words of encouragement from Gary and the coaching team?  Whatever it was, the Vikings morphed back into the team we know and love and started an amazing comeback.  The spectators agreed that suddenly the pack, urged on by a very vocal Rhys, came to life and won an early scrum against the head.  A few passes and Ciaran was off on one of his classic runs and scored the first of 5 unanswered second-half tries.  His second of the half came from his trademark kick, which he chased and somehow recovered to pile his way over the line.  About this time Cacpers dad reappeared expecting to find a team losing by double figures but finding himself very much mistaken.

The Winchester nerves started showing and it was they who started making the handling errors.  The Viking pack were now making life difficult for the opposition forwards and Winchester started giving away more and more penalties.    A quick tap and go and Ciaran was over again bringing the difference to 2 tries.  Shortly afterwards, the forwards won the ball once again and, a few simple passes later, Ciaran was let loose once again. 30-25 to Winchester.  Their anxious players started asking the ref how long there was left to go.  ‘Three minutes’ was the reply.

Vikings were now driving forward at every opportunity, taking quick penalties, forcing Winchester back and back.  Finally and fittingly, Ciaran charged over for his double hat-trick and the whistle blew.  Final score 30-30.  There was a stunned silence from the Vikings and Winchester.  It was as though the Vikings couldn’t believe they had done it.  As the visiting team, they had won the match.  They were though to the finals!

In the post-match awards Ciaran was rightly recognised for the difference he had brought to the game and his amazing tally of tries.  He was awarded Winchester’s Man of the Match as well as the Vikings Player of the Match.

Tom was awarded the Tackle of the Match award for a tackle which indicated a change in his team’s approach to halting the opposition’s ability to run through the Vikings defence.

 

The Viking of the Match was accepted by Harrison on behalf of the entire team all of whom deserved it (for the second half!).

An easyWeb site produced by Media 3