Mid North Coast Rugby Union: Port Pirates to clash with Hastings Valley Vikings

Rivals: Port Pirates tight-head prop Peter
Gowler and Hastings Valley Vikings utility
Sam Browning. Photo: Ivan Sajko
Rivals: Port Pirates tight-head prop Peter Gowler and Hastings Valley Vikings utility Sam Browning. Photo: Ivan Sajko

RESPECT is a word that is thrown around any time Port Pirates and Hastings Valley Vikings stand each side of halfway.

It’s no different this week ahead of Saturday’s local derby at Pirate Park.

Pirates’ English enforcer Pete Gowler and Vikings flanker Sam Browning are two relatively new faces that will do battle who are slowly beginning to understand the rivalry.

Gowler played in both derbies last season after moving to Australia from Northampton.

Browning is yet to appear in one and despite both wanting to win, they share a mutual respect for their cross-town rivals.

“There’s talk in the sheds and I knew it was a good rivalry as they are only down the road,” Gowler said.

“What’s said in the sheds stays between us and it does get you fired up for the game. It’s the right amount of talk to let you know who they are and where they’re from.”

The Pirates tight-head prop said his side were confident heading into a match that sees both sides level on the ladder.

He knows Vikings are the most successful team in Mid North Coast Rugby over the last five years, but they were looking forward to the challenge.

“You are testing yourself because they are one of the better clubs,” he said.

“But then again Pirates are coming through and have been one of the better clubs recently as well so it’s an equal match.”

Gowler said the Port Macquarie version of a local derby was difficult to compare with the ones he experienced in Northampton.

“It’s hard to compare the two because these games are more fast-flowing than the ones back home,” he said.

There’s talk in the sheds and I knew it was a rivalry as they are only down the road.

Port Pirate Pete Gowler

“It’s a lot muddier back home so it’s slow, but over here the ball is moved a lot quicker.

“There is one local derby we hate back home and it’s sort of like this where you can easily get fired up for it, but local derbies are the better days.”

Browning is yet to experience a local derby with the Vikings after moving to the club midway through last season.

He admits he is still learning about the rivalry, but can’t wait to get out there on Saturday.

“I’ve heard the boys talking about it and it’ll be pretty big but I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

“It’s two home teams battling it out.”

The Vikings flanker didn’t want to be drawn into firing any pre-game shots at his opponents.

As long as we get the win I don’t mind what colour jersey the other team are wearing, but there is a bit more riding on this game.

Hastings Valley Viking Sam Browning

“As long as we get the win I don’t mind what colour jersey the other team are wearing, but there is a bit more riding on this game,” he said.

First grade kicks off at 3.15pm at Stuart Park after the original fixture had to be moved from Oxley Oval due to a clash with the Relay For Life.