Wests claim top spot after raiding Viking Park

Thu, May 16, 2024, 11:30 AM
by Brumbies.rugby

The Wests Lions have definitively taken their spot on top of the John I Dent Cup ladder after defeating the Tuggeranong Vikings 30-19 at King Park and claiming the Bob Hitchcock Shield.

The home side would start the match off red hot, with the Vikings refusing to give up good field position in the opening minutes. Despite Wests desperately clinging on, the Vikings would eventually be awarded a penalty try in the ninth minute as the pressure became too much for Wests to handle early.

Continuing their early dominance, the Vikings would also strike second in the 21st minute as a backline play would result in Wests landing a big tackle but not managing to end the play. Capitalising on this was Tuggeranong Hooker Sam Thomas who would toe on the ball and score in the right corner.

The Lions would finally manage to build some pressure of their own afterwards though as the side would camp in Tuggeranong's territory which paid dividends in the 38th minute. In his first start for the side loosehead Aisake Atani scooped up the ball in a quick ruck three metres out from the try-line and managed to break two tackles before planting the ball down. Converted by Cullen Gray the sides would head into the break with Tuggeranong up 12-7.

Despite being down at the break it was Wests who would open the second half with a point to prove as in the 52nd minute the visitors would score a five-pointer through Joe Toma. The lock found himself in the right place at the right time after two of his teammates strung together handy offloads in the lead up before finding the forward. Converted again by Gray, Wests snatched the lead with a 14-12 scoreline with 28 minutes remaining.

Later in the 59th minute, Wests would extend their narrow lead through, Gray nabbing a penalty goal from 40 metres out taking the scores to 17-12 in their favour.

The visitors would continue on their momentum in the 62nd minute as they would successfully convert a rolling maul into their 3rd try of the match through Feleti Kaihea, giving the Vikings a true race against the clock scenario.

Seemingly unstoppable in the second half, Wests would score again in the 70th minute as they would chip kick the ball forward to their right side where Cullen Gray was racing for the ball and got painfully close to the try-line before scrum half Jack Ketteringham cleaned up the loose ball by sealing the try himself. With 10 minutes to go Wests found themselves at a 27-12 advantage.

Not going down without a fight however, the Vikings would begin their attempted clawback in the 74th minute as Cooper Taekata would also capitalise on a quick ruck close to the line and wrestle the ball to the ground, outmuscling Wests defenders in his way. Converting the try was Louis Bartley-Saena who brought the scoreline to 27-19 with six minutes remaining.

Securing their victory however was one of Wests key performers Cullen Gray as the flyhalf took a penalty shot at goal from in front, 30 metres out to bring the final score to 30-19 in the 78th minute.

Wests Lions 30 (Tries: Aisake Atani, Joe Toma, Feleti Kaihea, Jack Ketteringham; Conversions Cullen Gray 2;Penalty Goals: Cullen Gray 2) def Tuggeranong Vikings 19 (Tries: Penalty, Samuel Thomas, Cooper Taekata;Conversions: Louis Bartley-Saena )