Vikings aim to attack at Bracknell

MITCH SMITH returns to bolster the Vikings pack as they make several changes for today’s away trip to Bracknell IIs in Raging Bull Shield Two.

Vikings defend their line at home to Richmond last weekend.
 (Picture by Martin Gray, 30048340)
Vikings defend their line at home to Richmond last weekend. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30048340)

The black-and-yellows had a tough start to the new campaign, going down 3-17 against a good Richmond Normans side in what was their first competitive game in 19 months.

But head coach Ray Smart is optimistic of his team showing improvement today.

‘Last weekend we took a little while to get going, particularly in some areas of our defence and at the breakdown. The second half against Richmond was an improvement, but battling against the wind made it a tough job and we know we can perform much better,’ he said.

‘We have reviewed the Richmond footage and identified where we need to sharpen up and the boys have applied themselves really well in training to help us tackle those work-ons. Hopefully that will show on Saturday and give us the impetus to go forwards and play the way we want to play,’ he added.

With predicted bright skies and minimal wind in Berkshire this should hopefully allow the Vikings to play a more attacking game than last week and get on the front foot.

Bracknell are a side that St Jacques have played twice previously, with both games being close affairs and each side picking up the spoils once.

On the opening weekend Bracknell secured a good away victory over Henley IIs and this will no doubt be another good test for the Vikings.

Mitch Smith will start at number 8, and is part of a dynamic back row that includes Tor Ritchie-Bandy on the blind-side and Alex Lock, who enjoyed a good game last week on the open-side.

On the debit side, Tom Creed is required as cover for the Raiders, while Dan Morgan and Phil Le Noury drop out through injuries and illness. Nick Merrien is also unavailable.

Jacob Smith will move forward from the number 8 shirt he has vacated to his brother and starts in the second row with the very experienced Dave Harvey.

Up front James Mroch moves from prop to hooker and is joined by regular props Barney Paul and Tom Bray.

The Vikings back-line has one change from last week, with Lucas Barker switching to scrum-half in exchange for Dale Rutledge and Taylor Quate comes into the centres.

Captain Matt Lomas is once again at fullback, with Joe Le Roux and Reece de Jersey on the wings and Callum Gladstone joining Quate in the centres, making for a powerful but skilful back-line with plenty of speed out wide.

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