Swarco Raiders 22 – Raiffeisen Vikings 20
Whilst this has been the premier matchup in Europe in recent times, I’ve personally always felt a little disappointed seeing the Vikings handle their closest rivals so easily the past season or so. But with star quarterback Christoph Gross still on the sidelines and having seen the Black Panthers almost knock of the Vikings at home the previous weekend, I had the feeling this one was going to be a little closer than usual; and as I watched Andreas Hofbauer take a screen pass 74 yards for a score on the first play from scrimmages, my thoughts were all but confirmed.
The key difference between this game and the recent previous meetings between the two sides was the fact that the Raiders managed to actually start strong and maintain their advantage, whilst the usually sharp Vikings all but disappeared for the first half. The Raiders weren’t exactly flashy about how they did their business, utilising their short passing game to control the tempo and the clock, and whilst it’s not exactly the most crowd pleasing form of football, it allowed the Raiders to keep on top of the game and reduce the errors that plagued them last year against the Vikings.
Whilst the Raiders defence played well, keeping Emmanuel Moody mostly in check, I really felt like it was the failings of Alexander Thury in the first half that marked the inability of the Vikings to get on the scoreboard, as his passing was consistently off target, leading to the failure of a few first half drives. Thury however, at least this far in his career, has always been a man for the second half, and once again, his game went up three of four gears after half time to the point where it looked like he couldn’t miss. The touch and timing that he displayed during his second half performance just went to show what a difference it could have made to the final result if he’d been able to produce from the first whistle.
The other player that I would like to highlight from this game is Andreas Hofbauer, who whilst always having been an integral part of the Raiders offence, seems to have found that next level in his play to the point where he sliced up Europe’s best defence for 106 yards on only 12 carries. His power style combined with his every improving vision, compliments the Raiders controlling style of offence very well as he’s able to engineer those vital yards to keep the Raider offence within those manageable third down scenarios.
Even with the Raiders holding a dominant 22-7 lead following Hofbauers second score of the game, the Vikings were almost able to pull off the heroics which saw them topple the Black Panthers in the dying seconds of the previous week’s game. Unfortunately for the Vikings, this time is was not meant to be, and with the Raiders defence standing strong, the home team managed to close it out for the win, ending what has been a very long winning streak for the Vikings.