The Gungahlin Eagles have cemented their place at the top of the First Grade table after a late push gave them a win on Saturday.
Playing at their North-side home ground at Nicholls, the Eagles had a tight-fought match against the Queanbeyan Whites which saw both sides struggle to gain control throughout the match.
While the Eagles ran away in the final minutes of the match, the final score of 32-19 doesn’t reflect how even the match was up until the final minutes when the home crowd got behind the Gungahlin side.
Queanbeyan opened the scoring account for the game after a penalty goal came to Will Goddard, giving the visitors three points in the first few minutes.
A scrappy start to the game for the Eagles was highlighted by them giving away a second penalty to the Whites within the first ten minutes, Goddard again adding another three points to their tally early on in the match.
The home side finally got their first points of the game thanks to a try from Lock, Tristan Stanley crossing the line shortly after Captain Josh Gillard went close. A kick from Isaac Walker moved the Eagles into the lead for the first time in the day.
Wanting to keep control of the game, the Whites started to become impatient which came to the fore when one of their players was sent off for ten minutes thanks to an attempt at tackling the Eagles kick receiver mid-air.
A man up, the Eagles took advantage of the opportunity, crossing for their second try of the game, Stanley stepping his way over the line for another try. Walker couldn’t add the extra two points, the score remaining at 12-6. Late in the first half, a penalty to the Whites gave them a change to close up the points gap.
Another successful Goddard kick put them within three points of the Eagles who wanted to stay in front going into the second half.With only seconds remaining until they went into the sheds, the Whites got back in front with a try to Brendan Jimenez, coupling with a conversion to Goddard to give the visitors a lead of 12-14 at half time.
The opening minutes of the second half saw neither side take control, both having errors in situations which could have led to points, the worst of which coming when the Eagles gave the Whites another penalty close to their try line.
Opting to kick, the score went out to 12-17 when Goddard kicked his fourth goal of the day, wanting to slowly stretch the Whites’ momentum in the match.A few chances for the Eagles fell apart as costly mistakes robbed them of a crucial final push to cross the line.
While their frustration was evident, they still looked to have the upper hand in possession, especially in the Whites’ half.Finally crossing for their first points of the second half with Tamati Ioane leading the maul across the line, coupling up with a Walker kick to make it a 19-19 game in the closing 20 minutes of the half.
The last ten minutes saw the Eagles dominate possession and constantly attack the Whites try line, causing Neori Nadruku to give the visitors a penalty and send himself off for the remainder of the game.
A penalty try was awarded to the Eagles with minutes remaining thanks to a breakdown of the scrum from the Whites, giving the home team a seven-point advantage as the clock neared 80 minutes.
To close out the scoring for the game, two late penalty goal to the Eagles courtesy of Walker extended their lead to 13 points where it stayed until the end, the match finishing with a score line of 32-19.