Match Report – Old Albanians Vs Vikings 13.4.24

04/14/20240

Streaks of Viking excellence in 76-34 defeat by Old Albanians

The team for the trip to St Albans to play Old Albanians at the 30 acre grounds they share with St Albans school and where their partners Saracens have training facilities contained more forced personnel changes.  These included debuts for Norwich School’s Freddie Snary and recent joiners from Norwich RFC George King and Josh Wilson, the return of Ethan Holmwood for his 50th Vikings cap, Ewan Kingdon back from the Hong Kong 7s, and regrettably captain Dan Smith’s call off due to illness while en route.

The Vikings collected the kick off, the backs immediately breaking into OAs’ territory.  A classy offload let Tawanda Kandemwa outpace the remaining defence for the first try 0-5.  This was followed by two further excellent tries from George King and Wes McGuire.  The first a rampaging 40m run, the second an interception in the Vikings’ half, run in from 60 yards, and converted by Lucas Atherton to make it 0-17 after 10 minutes.

The OAs had a much larger pack and, having been pushed on the backfoot, abandoned open play and used their pack size advantage to close the game down.  Keeping the ball in the forwards, using them to drive forwards.  In the quarter hour from the 15th minute their large forward pack drove in four tries from heavy pressure and secured the bonus point.

On 31 minutes the Vikings’ defence dislodged OAs’ ball, hacked the loose ball forwards so it bounced eccentrically over OAs’ defence (as rugby balls are known to do).  Benji Hewitt pouched the ball, his speed outpacing the covering defence for the bonus point try.

As the half came to a close OAs drove another maul towards the Vikings’ line.  This gave their hooker Michael Bond the opportunity to score his hat trick try.  This left the score at 33-22 to OAs at half time.

At half time the massed Vikings’ supporters were considering what could be done to stultify if not negate the OAs’ forwards power.

There had been a Vikings’ supporters coach down to the pre-match lunch.  This had somewhat overloaded the lunch space as there was also a French junior team on tour there enjoying the hospitality with their parents.  Thus most of my old OAs playing colleagues seemed to be exiled to a back room where they were having their lunch remembering an OAs’ stalwart tourist Ali Mills.  Consequently they took me down memory lane to tours such as Lowestoft & Yarmouth 1989, Toulouse 1992, Atlanta 1996 and South Africa 1999.

As the second half started OAs continued heavy forward pressure, driving in tries in the 42nd and 49th minutes.  Immediately after this McGuire got his second yellow card (and therefore a red) for high tackles,

There had been a problem for both sides throughout the game.  In all there were quite a  few penalties and six cards issued.  Two yellows to OAs in the first half (6 minutes and 30 minutes).  Three yellows to the Vikings (6 minutes, 49 minutes which saw the red and 71 minutes).

OAs now seemed to be comfortable to run more ball.  Their backs ran riot for quarter of an hour from the 50th minute scoring four tries, then a last in the 75th minute.  This effort contained two further OAs try hat tricks for scrum half Bailey Thomas and centre Ben Alexander.

The two Vikings’ second half tries in the second half came in the 70th and 78th minutes.  Between these two Connor Dudley gave Kandemwa an excellent inside pass near halfway.  Kandemwa made it to the OAs 22 before being hauled down.

The first second half try came from a sublime cross kick by Atherton into Kandemwa’s hands on the wing.  Racing 50m forwards he offloaded skilfully to Connor Dudley.  This was another contender for the Vikings’ try of the season.

The last score of the match was for DoR Niall Lear’s man of the match Kandemwa.  Dudley came blind from a scrum in his own half.  Kandemwa was right up in support and Dudley set him off with a good clean pass to speed in 50m for the try.

At the end Lear said “The lads played their hearts out but we were overshadowed by both the size and weight of OAs’ pack.  This was compounded by our individual and system errors which, as you would expect at this level, OAs punished severely.”

In summary the Vikings showed their capability in attack.  They ran in six good tries and showed other pieces of attacking excellence.  However, in the first half, once OAs changed their game plan and got their pack going the Vikings were significantly short of the size and weight of the OAs’ pack and struggled to contain them.  In the second half Vikings’ personal and system errors contributed to OAs extending their lead.

 

Vikings: 15 Harry Steward, 14 Wesley McGuire, 13 Freddie Snary, 12 Benji Hewitt, 11 Tawanda Kandemwa, 10 Lucas Atherton, 9 Connor Dudley, 1 Tim Weber, 2 Ewan Kingdon, 3 Henly Brightman, 4 Hudson DeLucci, 5 Josh Wilson,  6 George King, 7 Jobe Brooks, 8 Charlie Fethney.

Replacements: 16 Kit Brodie, 17 John Clarke, 18 Ethan Holmwood, 19 Jamie Hooker

Substitutions: 41m John Clarke for Henly Brightman, 50m Ethan Holmwood for George King, 54m Jamie Hooker for Harry Steward, 60m Kit Brodie for Ewan Kingdon, 79m George King for Hudson DeLucci

Scorers Tries: 1m & 78m Tawanda Kandemwa, 7m George King, 9m Wes McGuire, 32m Benji Hewitt, 70m Connor Dudley

Conversions: 9m, 70m Lucas Atherton

Cards: 22m & 49m Wes McGuire yellow (second converted to red), 71m Lucas Atherton yellow

Referee: Conor Boyle

 

Richard Hewitt 07825156875

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