Hastings Valley Vikings inflict Grafton Redmen's first loss of Mid North Coast rugby season

TOM Woods’ first tackle of the second half summed up the Vikings overall performance in their 38-28 win over Grafton on Saturday.

You have to throw everything you’ve got at the undefeated competition leaders.

At the time the Vikings were in command of the match and held a 26-7 lead, but Woods made sure the Redmen knew Hastings Valley had no intention of letting up.

While the ball didn’t come free, it was a strong statement.

The 10-point win reversed the result from the previous time the two teams met and ended Grafton’s hopes of going through the season undefeated.

However, the Redmen still crossed for four tries and picked up a bonus point in the process.

That now means the Vikings will have to do what they did last year and win on the road to play yet another grand final at Oxley Oval.

But coach Dave Henry is okay with that.

It’s one-all now and we’ll meet again; I don’t know where yet, but that’ll sort itself out.

Hastings Valley Vikings coach Dave Henry

“We did it last year, went to Coffs and got a win and hosted a grand final here so we can only keep winning,” he said.

“It’s a huge win in the context of the season.

“Grafton came down here, undefeated, and we played some good footy.

“They’re a good footy team, but we got the points today and that’s important going forward.”

It is unlikely to be the last time the two play each other this season.

“It’s one-all now and we’ll meet again; I don’t know where yet, but that’ll sort itself out,” Henry said.

The Vikings raced out to a 26-0 lead after 20 minutes before they cruised home despite a fast-finishing Grafton outfit.

It was all built on the back of high intensity and a fast start.

“We’ve been talking about starting fast and starting with a high level of commitment and line speed and aggression and physicality,” Henry said.

Get around him: Dan Willoughby takes on the Grafton defence.

Get around him: Dan Willoughby takes on the Grafton defence.

“To Grafton’s credit, they fought their way back into the game and at 26-0, they’re a long way from home, and you’re up against it, but they hung in there.

“They came back at the end of the game and that’s what good teams do. You can’t sit back and rest with good footy teams.”

The Vikings coach was most impressed with the performance of Sam Browning who was playing in the more unfamiliar surrounds of the forwards.

“He was outstanding,” Henry said.

“He played as a seven, (even though) his best position is inside centre.”

Henry was disappointed his side conceded a few late tries, but overall he said the win generated one thing – belief.

“We’ll have to beat them again to win the comp and we know we can,” he said.

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