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Rays sting Vikings

Brumbies Rugby
Sunday September 16, 2007

The Canberra Vikings have missed an opportunity to jump to the top of the Mazda Australian Rugby Championship ladder following a 17-13 loss to the Central Coast Rays at Manuka Oval today.

In what was a tough 80-minute tussle, the home side were unable to get into their rhythm as they were continually kept on the back foot through the kicking game of the Rays’ Peter Hewat and man of the match Sam Norton-Knight.

After trailing 7-3 at half time, the Vikings had several opportunities to steal the match in the final five minutes but were unable to break the desperate Rays defensive line.

Canberra Vikings head coach Nick Scrivener said he was disappointed his side was unable to take the win and virtually secure themselves a ARC finals berth.

“There was a real window of opportunity there and plenty to play for and we served up a performance that didn’t reflect any of those things,” he said. “We need to improve everywhere [before next week] but it’s not massive things. We were just a little bit off in that game and a few areas being a little bit off makes a big difference and that’s what turns into a poor performance.

“We’ve just got to get better; we’ve got to win our set-piece ball, we’ve got to get some better option taking and put the opposition under pressure to make tackles.”

Scrivener said the Rays were deserved winners.

“Full credit to the Rays, they were playing for their season,” he said. “They were enthusiastic and they defended quite well. So while we were disappointed that it’s nowhere near the potential of this football team, I’m not going to take anything away from the opposition, I thought they did really well.”

Anthony Faingaa was best for the Canberra Vikings at inside centre constantly taking the ball forward and punishing Rays ball runners in defence. The 20 year old capped off his performance by continuing his unblemished Mazda ARC goal-kicking record, adding another three goals (two penalty goals, one conversion) from as many attempts.

Faingaa was unfortunate not to add a further three points to his season’s tally when he and Norton-Knight traded drop goals in the first 20 minutes, only to have them both waved away.

Unable to break the nil-all deadlock with a drop kick, Norton-Knight turned try scorer when he regathered his own grubber kick to score under the posts, after Vikings fullback Tim Wright slipped over attempting to cover the kick in the 22nd minute.

Wright almost made amends shortly after when he and Lealiifano combined to threaten the Rays line, only to spill the ball with the try line in sight. Faingaa got the Vikings on the board with a 29th-minute penalty goal after he was upended in a dangerous tackle in front of the Rays’ posts.

The Canberra Vikings had a positive start to the second stanza, attacking the Rays line and earning themselves another early Faingaa penalty goal.

However, the deficit was extended four minutes into the term when Vikings prop John Ulugia was sin-binned for a shoulder charge that presented Hewat with a straightforward penalty goal.

The Vikings afforded themselves a 13-10 advantage with 20 minutes remaining when replacement scrumhalf Patrick Phibbs exposed some weak ruck defence to score in the left corner.

However, the lead was short-lived when Wright and Phibbs appeared to miraculously hold up Rays winger Jye Mullane over the line, only to see the visitors’ scrumhalf Brett Sheehan rip the ball and dive over to score.

Hewat converted the try but turned villain with five minutes when he earned a yellow card from referee Brett Bowden for a professional foul on his own line.

Despite Peter Kimlin and Wright being held up in goal and three scrum feeds on Rays’ five metre line, the Vikings were unable to break through for the match-winning try.

The Vikings’ next match is against the Western Sydney Rams at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night.

Australian Rugby Championship - Round Six:

CENTRAL COAST RAYS - 17

Tries: Sam Norton-Knight, Brett Sheehan
Conversions: Peter Hewat 2/2
Penalty Goals: Peter Hewat 1/1

CANBERRA VIKINGS - 13

Tries: Patrick Phibbs
Conversions: Anthony Faingaa 1/1
Penalty Goals: Anthony Faingaa 2/2

Crowd: 3,714 @ Manuka Oval, Canberra
Half Time: Central Coast Rays 7-3
Referee: Brett Bowden

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