A look at the best of the action from Round 15 of the Griffin Legal John I Dent Cup.
Uni-Norths Owls booked their place in the 2019 Griffin Legal John I Dent Cup playoffs with a statement victory over Queabeyan in Round 15.
While Gungahlin and Royals continued their dominant streaks, it was the Owls who stole the headlines, cementing their spot in the finals against the Whites, who were hoping to mount a late season charge for a fourth place finish.
Eagles v Wests
A second half domination by the Gungahlin Eagles against Wests on Saturday afternoon at Nicholls Enclosed secured a much important win for the table topping Eagles, running away with a 47-12 victory.
It wasn’t as easy as it seemed for the men from the north, with Wests really taking it to them in the first half. But come second half, all cylinders were firing and the Eagles flew off into the distance.
Wests brought their A Game up the Barton Highway. Tough defence from the forwards was a clear standout in the opening stanza of the match. They were disciplined and confident, a completely different outfit compared to when they have been hammered in the previous weeks.
Gungahlin was first to open the score through Corey Toole on the wing. It was a close intercept by his opposite winger Alex Kavaliku-Skinner but despite stretching out every inch of his body it wasn’t enough, with Toole running through.
Only a few minutes later, Kavaliku-Skinner was able to score after Declan Meredith grubbered the ball behind the Eagles last line of defence, putting them on the back foot, leaving Kavaliku-Skinner only needing to dive on the ball.
Wests in fact led for the majority of the first half after Te Puia Luteru had a perfect rolling maul in front of him. From the lineout, Wests set the maul up close knit, allowing no Eagles players to make their way through the middle and before you knew it Luteru was over the line. With a successful conversion, Wests led 12-7.
It was only until the last play of the first half that the Eagles managed to get back in front. Prop Ray Dobson scored the first of his three tries, barging over in the corner.
Half time had scores at 14-12. From here on in, it was all the Gungahlin Eagles.
Straight away at the kick off, Wests let the ball bounce, a big no-no. Toole pounced on the loose ball and ran away for probably his easiest try of the season so far. With Wests scratching their heads struggling to come to terms with where had their terrific defence gone from the first half.
Fullback Mack Hansen put on some individual brilliance throughout the second half, carving up the entire Wests team, be that forwards and backs. He was running circles around them, making it look like a training a drill. With a successfully converted try to Hansen, the Eagles had quickly marched out to a 28-12 lead after only about five minutes of play in the second half.
Ray Dobson was able to score his second try through some strong carries by the forwards, slowly edging closer to Wests line. And then only a short time Wests dropped the ball on their own line and Dobson was there, falling perfectly into his chest before superman diving over.
A last minute try as well to Levi Shaw (after another Hansen carving), solidified the 47-12 win as well as cementing the Eagles top spot on the John I Dent Cup ladder.
With only two rounds left of the regular season, Wests will be hoping for a miracle if they want to make the Top 4 whereas Gungahlin are looking pretty safe up the top.
Easts v Royals
Battling under threat of snow and being blown away from the park, Royals put on a clinic against Easts in a 59 point win over the home side, pencilling in a spot in the finals.
A so far winless Easts was looking for their maiden victory of the season but were faced with a hard task against the in-form Royals who ended up putting their mark on the opposition, winning 14-73.
Straight after the kick-off it was the home side who looked to have an early advantage, Easts piling on the pressure to the Royals defensive line by constantly threatening to go over for a try.
They got their first points of the game only a few minutes in, launching to an early 7-0 lead in the hunt for a maiden premier grade win this season.
Everything looked to be starting well for Easts as Royals quickly lost one of their players shortly after the home team’s try, Luke Kimber going down and hobbling off the field due to an injury.
Despite having to grab a player off the bench early on, Rory Scott gave his team their first points of the match and a welcome boost as Pedro Rolando made the conversion, scores sitting at 7-7.
Though it looked like Easts were on top in the opening minutes, Royals started to gear up for a big push early on, swinging the momentum their way with another try soon after, taking the lead 7-12.
Jason Swain added to the try tally in quick succession with Royals enjoying a healthy lead over their opposition which was only aided by two quick tries just before half-time from Ben Johnston, giving the visitors a 7-31 lead at the break.
The second half got off to a flying start for Royals with Craig McMahon taking his first try of the game only a few minutes in to the final stanza, extending his team’s lead to 7-38 after Rolando’s kick.
Rolando then had a chance to add seven points all on his own, putting over a try and then converting it as the blow-out continued shortly after thanks to another try for Scott, Royals leading 7-52 midway through the second half.
The duo again added their names to the scoring sheet with Rolando again converting his own try which was followed by a hat-trick for Scott, putting in a man of the match performance and extending the lead to 7-66.
Late in the match Easts were finally able to add another few points to their store as Langi Lolotonga took his first try of the game, the conversion after going over the black dot which brought the scores back to 14-66.
As the 80 minutes came to an end, Royals put a full stop on the match with one final try, taking the victory with a dominant 14-73 win to all but guarantee their spot in the finals.
Owls v Queanbeyan