The Sydney Stars turned up to Canberra on Thursday night expecting a tough battle from the UC Vikings forward pack but they weren’t quite expecting the result to go the way it did, defeated 76-16.
In a tough start to the game the Stars battled to counteract the near 100kg difference in pack weight and were down 29-0 after 20 minutes almost exclusively off the dominance of the Viking forwards.
Early tries to Nigel Ah Wong, Robbie Abel, Ita Vaea, and Isaac Thompson set the tone for the night for the home team. It was always going to be tough for the Stars from there. Unfortunately for the Stars the Vikings weren’t quite done there for the first half and scored twice more through Vaea and Ah Wong again before the visitors got their first taste of extended possession on 37 minutes.
The Stars couldn’t convert their attacking position and on the ensuing Viking attack, hooker Tom Coolican was sin binned on the stroke of half time. As the temperature started to drop they headed to the rooms with the home side leading 42-0.
The start of the second half looked like it was going to be one way traffic again however Jim Stewart had other ideas. After former Sydney Star James Dargaville scored early on, Tom Carter made a strong line break off the back of a lineout win, offloaded to Stewart who strolled through three defenders to score the Stars first of the match.
The night got harder for the Stars on 52 minutes when Tolu Latu was yellow carded, leaving them a man down for the next 10 minutes. With the Waratahs hooker out of action the Viking scrum seized the opportunity and left the referee no option but to award a penalty try from the next scrum. Five minutes later Ah Wong completed a dream night, becoming the first Viking to score a hat-trick.
With the score at 60-8 it was a credit to the visitors that they never gave up and with Tom Carter in the middle of the rolling maul from an attacking lineout, they pushed the Vikings over their own try line for Carter to score. Jordan McGregor converted the try to make it 60-16.
Two more tries to the Vikings by Rodney Iona and Ah Wong again with 3 minutes remaining made the final score 76-16 in a seriously strong performance from the Brumbies laden Vikings outfit.
Perhaps an ominous positive for the stars is Brisbane City lost 79-18 to the Rising last year and went on to win the inaugural season of the competition.
Next week for the Stars brings about Family Day for the club in a home fixture against the Greater Sydney Rams at Leichhardt on Sunday 27th at 3:00pm.
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