The Vikings are on the road again this Saturday, the fourth time in five weeks. This weekend it’s Wimbledon, who lie one place above them at the bottom of the table, albeit 22 points ahead. Promoted last season when they lost just once, the London side began life in the National Leagues well with two September wins but since then they’ve only had one victory, 17 – 21 at Westcombe Park three weeks ago. Nevertheless they’ve been involved in some close finishes, have scored four or more tries in nine of their 16 matches and in December lost by just a single point home to promotion challengers Barnes, victors over the Vikings last Saturday 42 – 24.
That trip to Barnes represented another step forward for the Vikings who took a bonus point from a top three side for the second successive game. Those two matches have seen them average 28 points, a stark contrast to the previous 13 when they averaged ten. “The improvement on the pitch and at training has been massive,” commented Niall Lear. “This week we’ll be looking to keep up the momentum, further improve, cut out the silly mistakes and hope to spring a surprise.” Jobe Brooks returns, and Niall hopes to also include Ethan Holmwood and James Douglas in the squad. With Harry Langbridge like his brother Leo unavailable, Ross Magnus moves to fly half, his normal centre position likely to be filled by Archie Bryan.
“It’s hard to pick out any trends with Wimbledon,” says Niall, “but they’re another side with a large pack and have a quality fly half in Edward Morgan.” Morgan is their leading points scorer with 77 from the tee and three tries, whilst big winger Tomasz Pozniak, who’s played sevens for Poland, is their leading try scorer on 12. Next is hooker Malek Touilzak with seven, indicating perhaps a catch and drive strength.
This is just the third fixture between the two Clubs, the Vikings having won both encounters in 2021 – 22 when they ran out 17 – 30 victors at Wimbledon including two tries for skipper Dan Smith.