A half-time rev-up from Sean Barrett has inspired Vikings to a come-from-behind victory over Illawarra Rugby Union defending premiers Bowral on Saturday.
With Vikings trailing 10-7 at the break after an inconsistent opening 40 minutes, Barrett challenged his team to turn their performance around and claim a statement victory over the competition's benchmark.
Vikings responded to the challenge, with the side producing a sublime second half to claim a comprehensive 40-18 victory.
"Our first half wasn't as good as we had hoped," Barrett said.
"We gave them a chat at halftime about how this was our opportunity to beat the team that's the defending premiers and are top of the competition and to say to everyone else, we're definitely not going away, we're sticking to our guns.
"We said to them, you either want it now, or you might as well peter out and be middle of the competition. We asked the guys to step up in the second half and they came out and responded and scored some really good tries."
It didn't take long for Vikings to respond to Barrett's challenge, with a Tommy Sawden penalty goal levelling the scores before prop Joel Diggins crossed from close range to hand his side a seven-point advantage.
Bowral fought hard throughout the second half, however Vikings were able to overpower the Blacks in the final 20 minutes to pull away with the victory.
"In the first half we were clunky and not as patient and composed as we needed to be," Barrett said. "In the second half, a few things clicked, we were dominant at the set piece, we eradicated errors and we took our opportunities.
"The platform the forwards laid allowed Tommy to scoot and he had some good long balls for the wingers to score. But we also scored tries in close through powerful forward play."
The win was an important one for Vikings and ensured they remain in the top four ahead of next week's bye.
Barrett makes no secret of the fact his team has been inconsistent throughout the first 10 weeks of the competition and he said the challenge for Vikings now is to ensure they back up Saturday's performance with another commanding display when they face Campbelltown in a fortnight's time.
"We have been far from consistent, even within games of footy, we'll play well for 20 minutes then let it slide. We need to get a roll on now, hopefully the win will provide momentum into the second round.
"Our aim is still top two, we think we can do that. We have the week off, then we roll into Campbelltown at home. We still need to make sure we're practicing what we need to perfect and keep working on the style of play to help us beat the top teams."
The Vikings victory came on an eventful day of Illawarra Rugby, with Shamrocks upset by Shoalhaven 18-10.
University edged out Kiama 19-13 in a tense encounter and Avondale claimed a dominant 68-0 win over Tech Tahs to climb to the top of the table.
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