2018 Mid North Coast Rugby Union grand final: Hastings Valley Vikings claim fifth-straight title

IT was fitting that five simple words from Hastings Valley Vikings captain Kye Alpen summed it all up – “five in a row, baby.”

The Vikings claimed their fifth-straight second grade title with a hard-fought 31-20 win over Grafton on Saturday.

But it could have been so much worse after they made almost every error in the book inside the first 15 minutes.

Dropped balls, passes along the ground and a restart out on the full culminated in an early 8-0 deficit.

In the end, they composed themselves with vice-captain Jono Tunks leading the way. He scored a double and was voted as man-of-the-match.

Coach Steve Tonkin admitted his team struggled running into a strong breeze in the first half before they adjusted and got into the grind.

“I think you generally do underestimate the wind factor especially here at Oxley Oval where it changes drastically quite quickly,” Tonkin said.

“I think we used it a lot better in the second half than they did in the first and that’s why we came over the top.”

Tonkin said the kicking game of Greg Lawrence was integral to the victory, especially in the second stanza.

“Greg Lawrence’s kicking game at the back definitely steadied the ship in the second half,” he said.

“Also Jono Tunks from number eight, two tries, vice captain and he’s just all heart in everything he does.”

Despite the error-riddled start, Tonkin wasn’t overly concerned about his team’s ability to get themselves back into the contest.

“I wasn’t concerned about the start because we played them two weeks ago and it was 10-7 at halftime,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be tight and we knew with our fitness that we could win in the second half like we did two weeks ago.

“We stuck to that and that’s the result that came through.”

Incredibly, the Vikings had to use more than 50 players throughout the season and Tonkin admitted that was one of the reasons why the fifth-straight title meant so much.

“It's been a close-knit group of guys for a long time now and having first grade there, it’s just a whole club feel,” he said.

“51 players this year is what we’re dealing with. I’m very proud of the guys.”

“The beers are going to taste very sweet tonight.”