The Vikings impressive form continued with this solid win over dogged Ruislip. Their eight victory of the season meant they retained fifth place just 6 points behind leaders Brentwood. They were worthy winners: in a defence dominated game they were the more creative attacking force and a wider winning margin would not have flattered them. 12 points up early in the second half, they looked in the ascendancy but were thwarted by good defence and poor finishing, and had to survive a tense final fifteen minutes after Ruislip scored in a rare attack.
The early indications were the visitors were going to dominate at scrum time; twice in the first ten minutes the Ruislip scrum was demolished and penalties awarded but the anticipated dominance did not materialise. Overall the set pieces were almost equal but crucially the Vikings' few lineout losses and single scrum loss were all in attacking positions.
Most of the first half play was in the middle third of the pitch, with Ruislip having marginally more possession. The Vikings' defence was superb, pressurising their opponents into mistakes so that the home side rarely threatened the line; the once they looked like scoring Ethan Benney made a try saving tackle.
On the few occasions they attacked the visitors looked threatening. Midway through the half, Benney came into the line and punched a big hole; the move was continued by Wayne Williams and Jono Lawson, but a penalty was conceded on Ruislip's line. Later a thirty metre driving maul set up an attacking position only for the ball to be lost. Then, when it looked as if the half was going to be scoreless, a swift passing move down the left was halted on the line and, with the defence sucked in, Ryan Oakes strode over under the posts; Matt Hodgson converted.
The Vikings played a more expansive game after the break and were rewarded within four minutes. Benney made another incisive run down the left before the ball was shifted right where Jon Younie passed out of the tackle to debutant Will Catchpole; faced with three defenders fifteen metres out he feigned to go one way but, with a burst of speed, went the other: 12-0.Suddenly the Vikings were finding space; a move involving both Hodgsons and Wayne Williams created a big overlap but somehow Ruislip survived.
Going into the final quarter Ruislip briefly burst into life. The Vikings stole their ball at a five metre lineout, but Ruislip made no mistake with the next one and a driving maul resulted in a converted penalty try.
The visitors almost replied immediately. Tom Williams gathered Matt Hodgson's restart kick before the pack, with Tom Coller and Wayne Williams prominent, took play over the line, but Ruislip won the five yard scrum and the position was lost. Thereafter, with the Vikings showing great discipline to retain possession, most of the play was in Ruislip's territory and, what felt like a long fifteen minutes, was expertly navigated through.
Coach Nick Greenhall was delighted: " a great team effort; they showed outstanding resilience, adapting well to the different phases of the game." From a wide field of candidates, Will Hodgson was Chalk Hill Brewery Man of the Match.
With two of their next three games away, this was an important win. Last season they won away just twice, already this term they have doubled that tally. The challenge of winning games in unfamiliar surroundings on dull cold winter days after a four hour coach journey, should not be underestimated; this performance showed the squad can meet that challenge. Next Saturday second placed Thurrock visit Scottow.
Team: 15.Jon Younie 14. Will Catchpole 13.Mike Braans 12.Will Hodgson 11.Ethan Benney 10.Matt Hodgson 9.Tom Lomax 1.Aki Downing 2. Tom Browes 3.Tim Weber 4.Jono Lawson 5.Tom Coller 6. Ryan Oakes 7.Wayne Williams 8.Tom Williams
Greg Kirkham/ Lomax (69 mins)
Dom Roberts/Tom Browes (74 mins)
Unused Substitute: George Rossi
Tries: Oakes; Catchpole
Conversions: Matt Hodgson
Referee: Antony Petrie (Auckland, New Zealand)