The John I Dent Cup Grand Final is set, with the Canberra Royals looking to secure back to back premierships against the Gungahlin Eagles.
Uni-Norths Owls 14 def by Canberra Royals 27
The Canberra Royals have beaten the Uni-North Owls 27 to 14 to gain a spot in next weeks John I Dent Cup Grand Final.
The Royals were the stronger side of the day making the most of the opportunities they got and the majority of the time they were down near the Owls line they were able to score.
The Royals also really pushed the Owls out of the game with their defence which kept the Owls scoreless for 58 minutes. The Owls had a lot of opportunities but for the most part wasted them, which really caused them a lot of problems in the game.
The Owls also had a lot of problems with their handling, dropping the ball on a few occasions especially when they were near the Royals line.
The Owls also had big problems with giving away penalties, which continued to give the Royals good field position to score or gain points from penalty goals.
Royals coach Wayne Southwell was proud of his teams performance, adding “we showed a lot of courage in defence, especially in the first half. Particularly down in our own twenty-two, we were down there for a long period of time. I thought that was exceptional”.
Southwell added “It really put us in a good state at half time, just purely through hard work in defence and working for each other. So, I was really happy with that and it was more about the finals defence than anything else”.
When asked about the Royals performance captain Ben Johnston “the boys really showed up today, especially the boys in the front. I have to give them a lot of praise, they really stuck in and did a job for us”.
Owls coach Sam Rolfe had this to say post game, “we didn’t our opportunities in the first half, we camped down their eighteen and we didn’t take points away. We had four or five opportunities and off the back of that poor discipline, penalty after penalty got them back down there and they took their opportunities. It was a game or opportunities and we didn’t take them”.
The Royals would start off the stronger side taking the lead in the third minute after Pedro Rolando kicked the penalty goal to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.
But it would be the Owls that would have all the momentum spending the majority of the next fifteen minute with possession and all the momentum, but that wouldn't help them get over the line as they would continue come up short, as the Royals defence would hold strong.
The Royals would then take back momentum and take all the possession and it would and they would make their way down to the Owls line and they would make no mistake and get over the line to score in the 26th minute, when Rory Scott pushed his way over under the post to take Royals to a 7-0 lead.
Which was extended to 10-0 when Rolando converted the try.
The Royals nearly extended in the 26th minute when Brumbies star Bailey Kuenzle almost got over the line only to either drop it or do a double movement.
The Owls would the control the field position, after that near try for the Royals but just like earlier they would not be able to convert that possession into points as the Owls would hold strong defensively and cause the Owls to make the mistake.
The Royals would almost get over the line at half time only to be stopped by the Owls defence.
The Royals would carry the momentum they had at the end of the first half when in the 42nd minute Ben Johnston would run down the kick attempt by the Owls number 14 Josh Reis to allow Bayley Kuenzle to score, taking the Royals lead to 15-0. Which became 17-0 when Rolando would convert the try.
The Owls would finally get their first points of the game after many opportunities, when in the 59th minute the Owls would use the numbers overlap to see Will Miller get over the line to close the gap to 17-5. Which would be closed even further to 17-7 when Jordan Thompson converted the try.
But the Owls wouldn't be able to make use of the momentum created from the try, as the Royals would take full control of the game and that control would payoff for the Royals in the 66th minute when off a big push from the scrum Brumbies star Connal McInerney would get over the line to take the Royals lead to 22-7. Which became 24-7 Rolando converted the try.
The Owls woes would continue in the 67th minute when they would be penalized just outside their own forty for holding on. Which would allow the Royals to take the shot at penalty, which Rolando would just kick to extend the Royals lead to 27-7.
The Owls would end up getting a consolation try in the 80th minute when Jordan Thompson would make a length of the field run to score. He would then convert his own try to finish the game 27-14.
Words: Thomas Spencer
Tuggeranong Vikings 10 def by Gungahlin Eagles 17
An Issak Fines masterclass has seen the Gungahlin Eagles knock off minor premiers the Tuggeranong Vikings 17-10 at Viking Park.
Fines was instrumental in pulling the strings for the Eagles, as the scrumhalf bagged himself the opening try and would further assist Jamie Kotz over the line with an outstanding pass in the second half.
The Eagles will now meet the Canberra Royals in the John I Dent Cup final and will be looking to win their first title since 2003.
Head coach Marco Caputo had nothing but praise on star man Fines for his performance in the fixture.
“Fines was class today, everyone saw that,” said Caputo.
He further stated the influence of the experienced Matt Giteau and James Dargaville has been instrumental in the Eagles late surge to the final. As well as the injection of returning Brumbies Mack Hansen and Tom Ross along with Fines.
“You can’t underestimate having the influence of someone like Gitz [Giteau] and Dargaville and later with Tom, Mack and Issak coming back. The belief came through.”
Caputo further stated he could not prouder of his side’s defensive effort in the match-up with Tuggeranong, as the Eagles hardly held the football in the first half.
“I thought it was great [our defence],” he said.
“People were talking about our attack last week [against Royals] the fact the we scored 10 tries, but I was really pleased that we kept them to nil.
“Today with everything going against us, with the opposition having all the ball and all the momentum and we just kept knocking them over. I was really pleased with that.”
The Eagles did face a late scare with 12 minutes on the clock, as Lachlan Lonergan would assist brother Ryan over the try line to make it a seven-point ball game.
But the Eagles would hold on to prevail and Vikings coach Nick Scrivener conceded his side were just up to scratch, as they were unable to take advantage of their early possession dominance.
“We just didn’t play well enough today,” said Scrivener.
“We just didn’t take our chances; we had enough possession in the attacking zone and we just could capitalise. They toiled away and fair play to them.”
While the Eagles will now face up again with round 10 opponents the Royals who they obliterated 62-0. Gungahlin fullback Hansen commented the defending premiers know how to win finals and his side will again need to be at their best if they are to end their title drought.
“Royals have shown year after year that they are a finals team,” said Hansen
“We know it is going to be completely different side to the one we played a few weeks ago. They have been there plenty of times and we know we are going to have to show up.”
Words: Daniel Heinrich