Vikings Match Preview v Tonbridge Juddians (H) – 24/02/24

02/22/20240

The Vikings are home this Saturday for only the second time in 2024, Tonbridge Juddians the visitors. The Kent side are sixth with ten wins from 19, just three of them away. They are big accumulators of bonus points with 13 for scoring four or more tries and have won four of their last six including at Bury, but lost at Guernsey and, last week, Sevenoaks.

TJs recruited heavily last Summer, bolstering a squad already including plenty with higher level experience such as second row Perry Parker (Edinburgh, Ospreys and Stade Dijonnais). Sam Evans, with 100 points from the tee and two tries, is their leading points scorer. He was in Worthing’s team that beat the Vikings last March and has played in National Two for four different Clubs in as many seasons. Hooker Will Holling, signed from Championship side Doncaster, is their leading try scorer with 15, seven more than any of the backs.

“I’m surprised TJs aren’t challenging for promotion,” commented Niall Lear. “They’ve a deep squad, their well drilled pack is huge, they have some outstanding backs and they were ruthless at taking their opportunities when we met in January.”

That game ended 59 -12, the second half at 12-5 representing the beginning of the Vikings’ improved performances since the turn of the year. They will be keen for a better start than they had at Tonbridge where they conceded three tries in the first 15 minutes, something which they did again last week at Westcombe Park though they came back strongly to 47 – 39 and so nearly got their first win.

There will be a couple of changes to the squad. Charlie Fethney, injured last week in the second minute will be out for a few weeks, so Ethan Holmwood will be in the second row and Billy Tait at no 8. Niall was awaiting fitness tests on a couple of the backs but Ross Magnus will return and Harry Steward is likely to start. There could be a place on the bench for Norwich School’s Freddie Snary, fresh from playing for Leicester Tigers under 18s.

 

Paul Morse

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