The Vikings’ search for their first victory continues this Saturday with the visit of Guernsey to Scottow Park. The Channel Islanders, who have lost their last four, lie in eleventh place on 19 points with three wins, just one of them away at Wimbledon, and seven bonus points. They average 24 points a game, having scored at least four tries in half their matches. Last weekend they were defeated at home by Canterbury 10 – 34, and the previous lost narrowly at Sevenoaks. Like the majority of sides in National 2 East, they have a large mobile pack, good at the set pieces. Guernsey’s leading try scorer is outside centre Ciaran McGann with eight, but their next two are forwards – no 8 Carter Hackett with five and hooker James Burger with four. McGann is also their goal kicker, with 34 points from the tee.
Meanwhile Niall Lear has restructured the back division moving skipper Dan Smith to full back with the new centre combination likely to be Benji Hewitt and Archie Bryan. Either Harry Langridge or Ross Magnus, both of whom have minor injuries, is expected to be at fly half and Harry Steward on the wing, whilst Alfie Coop might return from injury. The forwards are likely to be largely unchanged save that Mark McCall has joined Henly Brightman and Ethan Holmwood on the injured list. “I’m looking for us to be a bit braver about the way we play,” said Lear. “Crucially we need to put in a full 80 minutes performance and cut down the errors which invariably get punished at this level.”
Last season was the first time the two Clubs had met with the home side victorious on both occasions, Guernsey 58 – 17 on a glorious September day, the Vikings 20 – 12 on a dank windy day in January; Charlie Fethney, just one of four likely to play this Saturday who featured in the win ten months ago, was Man of the Match on both occasions. To facilitate Guernsey’s travel arrangements kick off is earlier than usual at 2.30pm.