Vikings have confirmed their status as a genuine Illawarra Rugby premiership contender with a gritty four-point victory over Uni on Saturday.
The 2017 grand finalists experienced a shaky start to the season, losing three-straight matches early in the piece. However, they have been unbeaten since that point, winning seven matches in succession.
The victory reverses a 50-13 loss at University Oval and Vikings coach Sean Barrett said his side will take a lot from the result.
“We’ll take a lot of confidence from this,” Barrett said. “We were a bit embarrassed by the 50-point drubbing we got from these guys in round three, so we definitely had to turn it around, but we always had to play good footy.
“Top four teams are very hard to beat, we’re definitely building a bit of momentum and there could be something special building.”
Despite starting the match on the back foot, it was Uni who opened the scoring 10 minutes into the game after a period of sustained attack.
With Vikings struggling to turn field position into points, it looked like Uni would add a second 10 minutes later. However, the Bulls turned the ball over while on the attack and it was a long time before they would even sniff the Vikings try line.
From the Uni error, Vikings controlled possession for the remainder of the half, ultimately turning field position into points, including a crucial try on the stroke of halftime.
The second half began as the first ended, with Vikings controlling both field position and possession.
Despite an inability to add to the score board, The home side spent much of the period camped inside the Uni half.
While disappointed with his team’s execution, Barrett was pleased with his side’s attacking structure and ability to control the territorial battle.
“When we got into our structure nice and early it was quite good. We definitely played into their half and structured our tries really well. We’ve always had a really good attacking focus and our shape is really good.”
Uni would have one final opportunity to snatch a late victory with 10 minutes remaining, however Vikings were not ready to roll over.
The home-side lifted the intensity in defence, with quick line speed forcing the Bulls backs into errors.
Uni coach Dion Miller was disappointed with his team’s performance and would have liked to see more patience in attack throughout the second half.
“We just didn’t fire today,” Miller said. “Vikings were too good, we had some chances in the first half that we couldn’t convert. Vikings stuck to their guns and kept us down our own half and we couldn’t get out.
“It was a game of patience, they kept things simple where we tried to over complicate things and played with more panic than the margin warranted.”
Elsewhere, Bowral broke Avondale’s 10-match winning streak with a 20-12 win, Tech upset Shoalhaven 27-14, Shamrocks beat Camden 49-12 and Campbelltown overcame Kiama 29-12.