Emotions ran high as the ACT Senior Rugby finals were run and won on Saturday 26 August at Tuggeranong’s Viking Park.
An electric atmosphere surrounded both fields as the day went on, before a cinematic finish to the BentSpoke Premier 15s match on the main field drew in a phenomenal crowd.
The day kicked off at 9:30am with the 1st division 2nd grade men’s final, where Gungahlin claimed their second win over the boys in blue this finals series, taking out the game 34-17.
Royals were on the backfoot after losing to the minor premiers in the first week of finals, before clawing their way back with a comprehensive win over Uni-North Owls in the preliminary final. A great contest between the two sides, but the Eagles were too strong and powered through the Royals’ defence to claim the title.
Following the Eagles win, a crowd started to form on the far side of field two. A sea of Uni-North supporters flooded the sideline as the Owls chased a fairytale win in the 1st Division 1st Grade final against Goulburn.
Despite knocking off minor premiers Tuggeranong in the first week of finals and earning themselves a week off, Goulburn had suffered a couple of losses to the Owls earlier in the season, making for a tight grand final showdown.
Owls had the momentum leading into the finals, with 30+ point wins in their last three regular season games and a comprehensive win over Tuggeranong in their preliminary final. This momentum fuelled the Owls as they lifted the cup in a 21-7 victory.
The ACT Vets Colts Cup was a high-scoring affair, as the Queanbeyan Whites ran away with a 53-33 victory over the Vikings. In a heated exchange, the two sides went blow for blow in a fast-paced and physical matchup.
It was the White’s fullback, Andrew McFarlane who spearheaded Queanbeyan’s attack, proving influential with the ball in the second half as he shifted the momentum Queanbeyan’s way. Inside centre Jordan Cotter earnt himself a hattrick as the White’s came away too strong for the hosts.
The Spence Cup had a rivalry as old as time as Royals took on Tuggeranong.
With just a few points separating the sides all season, Royals were out to make a statement and claim their first win against the Vikings for the season. The Vikings came out swinging, taking an early and comprehensive lead and scoring the first three tries of the game.
Royals fought hard early in the second half, with Liam Maguire and Josh Myburgh both crossing the line to take them within a converted try of the hosts. But it wasn’t enough to break down Tuggeranong’s defence as the hosts held on to take out their back-to-back Spence Cup titles.
The BentSpoke Premier 15s Women’s final was up next, with a fast-paced and aggressive Uni-Norths side taking on the minor premiers, the Vi-Queens. A season-long tussle between the clubs set up an exciting race to the final.
A story of two sides as the Vi-Queens had a comfortable win in the first week of finals, whereas the Owls had to fight their way from third place. To no one’s surprise, the main field was inundated with spectators for this clash.
The Owls fans making a hoot and filling the grandstand as the Vi-Queens supporters were screaming from the Red Army zone. It was an electric atmosphere where you couldn’t help but leave your seat after every call, line break or try.
It was a terrific display of crafty ball movement and hard running, but it was Uni’s Charlie Brigstocke who brought the house down, sealing her hattrick and team’s come-from-behind victory as the full-time buzzer sounded.
A grand final for the ages as the Owls took the game 30-26.
After the on-field celebrations died down from the Owls and their fans, the energy was buzzing at Viking Park for the John I Dent Cup final.
Gungahlin faced off against first grade powerhouse and minor premiers Tuggeranong as the Eagles yearned to break their 20-year drought. The stage was set as both teams had supporter-filled run out tunnels reaching half the length of the field.
The crowd noise continue to echo throughout Viking Park as Eagles fans packed on to the Southern hill in a sea of black, red and large cut out heads of their favourite players.
Despite a dominant season for the Vikings, a late-season surge from Gungahlin shifted their momentum leading into the big dance. Both teams traded throughout the first half with only a couple of points splitting the difference at the break.
However, it was the best on ground performance from Isaac Crowe and the golden boot of Jack Hardy that cemented the Eagles dominance in the second half.
A late try from Crowe was the dagger in the Vikings season and saw Eagles captain Matt Hawke lift the cup with his side for the first time in his 19-year stint with the club.
The Eagles were too strong on the day, taking out the John I Dent Cup 33-22.
A great day for ACT Rugby with an immense amount of passion and support shown throughout the day, that calls for a well-deserved off season.