Wildfires improve despite loss to Vikings

Blair Rush jumps in a lineout against the Vikings.THE Emerging Wildfires have been together only two weeks, but No.8 Mac Rae can sense a team feel about the program developing.
Shanghai night field

The Wildfires pushed the previously unchallenged Canberra Vikings development squad in a 43-21 defeat on Saturday in Canberra.

The scoreline was similar to the 45-23 loss to Sydney Galaxy, but it was a step up.

“I think it is fantastic that we have been given this opportunity,” said Rae, who skippered the Wildfires.

“Everyone has realised what this level is like.

“We gave them a good test.

“It was unfortunate, but it is just those little one per centers that we have not quite got right . . . knock-ons at crucial times, not capitalising from set pieces.

“Credit to Canberra, they were able to strike back from those mistakes.

“It has only been two weeks, so you can’t expect miracles, but it is pretty impressive how the team is coming together.

“We all forget what club we are from and become one. That is starting to show on the field as we progress.”

The Wildfires held the big Vikings pack early before conceding two late tries to go to the break 19-0 down.

“Entering the game [coach] Todd Louden put a big emphasis on character, especially in defence,” said Rae, who started at No.8 before switching to the side of the scrum in the second half.

“At half-time he reiterated that. We started to play with a bit more width. They had a few big units and we are able to move them around a fair bit.”

Fly-half Jason Keelan led the rival. He took on the line and committed defenders. Prop Andrew Tuala and hooker Chris Pusi bent the defensive line and Adrian Delore was dangerous from fullback.

The Wildfires play the first of consecutive home games against Greater Sydney Rams development squad at Ernie Calland Oval on Saturday from 3.30pm.

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