Guernsey Press

Vikings tested to the limit but they remain unbeaten

VIKINGS went from almost one extreme to the other in the space of a week, but they just about managed to hang onto their unbeaten league run stretching back 18 months.

Jacob Smith leading a Vikings charge against Locks Heath Pumas on Saturday. (Pictures by Murray Palmer, 32581545)

Coming off the back of their record win at home against Tottonians Seconds the previous weekend, St Jacques had to fight tooth and nail to hold off an incredible second-half comeback on Saturday from hosts Locks Heath Pumas, who attempted to out-muscle Ray Smart’s side in a way that fully tested the resolve and defensive qualities of the visitors.

In the end, though, Vikings came up with the necessary answers to secure a third win from three games in Counties Two Hampshire.

There was little sign of what was to come as St Jacques got on the scoreboard early in the first half against their fellow promoted side through a successful driving maul that Darrin Bellingham was on the end of to dot down.

Will Creber made an impressive start on his senior debut before an unfortunate injury ended his afternoon after just 10 minutes.

In the build up to his withdrawal he ran an excellent line which created the opportunity for Tom Veillard to score a quick second try for the Vikings.

Matt Lomas successfully converted the score.

The home side were having periods of possession and were working hard in the narrow channels, but were struggling to penetrate the Vikings defensive line.

Barnaby Paul soon extended the Vikings lead following another dominant driving maul in close to the Pumas line, as St Jacques went in 19 points to the good at half-time, following another successful Lomas conversion.

The second half was an all together different showing as Pumas frustrated Vikings with a forwards-heavy, narrow game plan that proved effective.

Vikings found themselves pegged into their own half fairly early in the second period and this is where they would remain for nearly all the half as Pumas had nearly all the possession.

The forwards were required to produce a big defensive shift, attempting to nullify the onslaught that ensued.

In the most part Vikings managed to keep Locks Heath at bay, until the defence eventually cracked through a driving maul. The try was converted.

Following that score the home side kept coming with their very specific game plan, which was not hugely attractive to watch for a spectator, but it was working.

Vikings kept them out for another long period and for much of the time close to their own try line.

However, indiscipline was creeping in and penalties ensured the momentum remained with the home side.

The referee’s patience soon ran out, as Corey Wallis and Pierre de Garis were both given yellow cards within the space of a minute, following repeated infringements in the Vikings 22.

With a two-man advantage, the home side scored a further converted try from close range, to set up a tense final 10 minutes.

Vikings had an opportunity to relieve the pressure after finally securing the ball, but a handling error gave the ball back to the Pumas.

As the final minutes ticked by, Locks Heath came again seeking a potential match winning score, but Vikings held strong to repel the final Pumas assaults before causing a knock-on as the referee blew for full-time.

It was a hard fought victory for the Vikings, it was far from pretty, but they will be pleased they managed to hang on in the end.

They now have a two-week break before they return to action away to Millbrook on 21 October.