By Elliot Raiter
The Road Safety Perth Spirit has narrowly gone down to the Canberra Vikings 33-26 at Viking Park on Sunday afternoon.
In a nail-biting contest, the Spirit gained the lead with 10 minutes remaining, before a rampaging Vikings side scored twice to secure a terrific seven-point victory on their home turf.
The Vikings began the fixture in electric fashion, playing with a physical edge; Robbie Abel opened the scoring in the fifth minute to give his side the lead.
Vikings No.8 Rob Valentini then doubled the advantage in the 23rd minute, to push the deficit out to two tries in a dominant display.
Chance Peni struck back for the visitors moments later, going over with ease to reduce the margin, as the game continued to open up late in the first half.
Valentini restored the two try buffer for the Vikings right on the stroke of half time, with the backrower receiving a quick inside ball five metres out, before charging over to give his side the momentum heading into the break.
The Spirit struck first to begin the second stanza, with Pek Cowan carrying close to the line, before giving an inside ball to Anaru Rangi, who cut the margin to just seven points.
The Spirit continued the momentum through the second half, with Kane Koteka leveling the scores after some fantastic close in play at the breakdown. Koteka drove over from five metres out, with the Vikings unable to restrict the youngster.
A deliberate knock down from the Vikings saw a penalty and a yellow card given, before Cowan again went close to a try only to knock the ball on over the line.
Isi Naisrani worked tirelessly all day and was rewarded minutes later, with the big Fijian taking a picking the ball up from the base of the scrum, before fending off several Viking defenders to cross over.
Despite gaining the lead with 10 minutes remaining, the Spirit couldn’t hold out the Vikings with Harrison Lloyd locking the scores up again with just eight minutes left on the clock.
Andrew Robinson then proved the match winner for the Vikings, with the number 13 clinging onto a great ball from Sam Carter to storm over the line and win the game for the home team with two minutes remaining.
The Vikings clinched a 33-26 win in front of their home, with the Spirit suffering their first loss of the campaign in 2017.