HASTINGS Valley Vikings gave the Upper Mid North Coast Rugby competition a gentle reminder they aren’t going to give up their premiership without a fight.
The Vikings outlasted the Coffs Harbour Snappers 11-10 at a rain-soaked, muddy Oxley Oval on Saturday.
It was a match only for the diehards and rugby purists and as the rain fall, errors became the rule rather than the exception.
But in the end the three-time premiers held their nerve the best to inflict Coffs Harbour’s first defeat of the season.
A Jacob Taituave first-half try and two penalty goals to Lyndon Gale proved the difference as the Vikings set sail for top spot with two rounds remaining.
Coach Mark Howard said it was a match which determined who wanted to do the hard yards.
“It was a pretty dire affair in the mud, that’s for sure,” he said.
“Both teams slugged it out and there was nothing pretty about it so we found out who wanted to get down and dirty the most.”
The Vikings had to adjust on the run to the Snappers’ different style of play – a key factor in their successful season to date.
“When you play these teams every year you think you get to know their style, but credit to Coffs in the way they’ve changed how they play,” Howard said.
“They still deserve to be favourites for the competition, but we know we’re there and thereabouts.”
Howard said it was a perfect match for his side to compete in with the semi-finals just two weeks away.
”The match was in the balance for 80 minutes and it was good to get this sort of a contest a few weeks out from the finals,” he said.
“We now know how to win these tight matches which will stand us in good stead for the finals.
“We’ll take the one-point win every day of the week.”
The Vikings coach acknowledged his side were still hungry to complete four-straight premiership wins.
“It wasn’t our most convincing performance, but we still want this premiership as much as we ever did and we can see that’s a goal for us now,” he said.
“I can’t fault any one of the player’s efforts yesterday and we came away from the match knowing Coffs are the real deal this year.
“But we probably did get a mental edge if we play them again.”
Flanker Pete Segol along with captain Hamish McCormack and forward Tom Woods were three of the Vikings’ best.
“Pete Segol was outstanding for us,” Howard said.
“He put his hand up and did the dirty work, mopped up anywhere on the field and came across in cover.
“He came up with a couple of really big repeat efforts and that’s what you needed on a day like Saturday.”