Mens Game report V Eagles (Thanks to Xavier Pegum)
Wet, physicality and grit are the three words I would use to wrap up this weekend’s action for all four grade sides. Fourth, third and second grade all endured tough Gungahlin sides, however gave their all in all three encounters. Nevertheless despite an injury curse, plus the horrendous weather it was our first grade side that took home the win in a gruelling and arduous game of rugby.
With the rain getting heavier and heavier throughout the day punters would rush to conclusions that the forwards would have their work cut out for them and that the backline would simply keep their jersey’s as clean as possible, however this Saturday was simply not the case. It only took the mighty first graders three minutes to cross over the line with Byron Hollingworth Dessent using his pace and strength to bump off the Eagles halfback who then collided with the Eagles five-eighth, then giving Byron plenty of space to score in the corner.
Nonetheless Gungahlin came fighting back and replied with three very efficient tries of their own
within the space of six minutes putting the scores to 19-7. Either way Owls inside centre Lucas Thomson gave speedster Byron Hollingworth Dessent a crisp inside ball from ten metres out which saw the winger get his second try putting the scores to 19-14. Later on in the second half Rolfey’s piggies were getting stuck in gaining metres phase after phase. Not long after a cheeky scoot from Owls 9 Hamish Dawson, we saw hooker Sam Thomas cross the chalk with five minutes to go in the half. Half Time score was locked at 22-19.
Within three minutes of the second half the piggies were getting white line fever and this time it was Queensland’s very own Will Sankey crossing over after a buildup of phases generated by the forwards. The successful conversion from five-eighth JT saw the scores set to 29-19 to the mighty Owls. However rugby is a game of two halves and Gungahlin were certainly not giving up without a fight. A line out from five metres out saw the Eagles forwards maul it in and close up the scores to 29-26.
A fired up first grade weren’t going to give up there, ten minutes later after a build up of a number of phases Hamish Dawson added a touch of class to the torrential rain throwing a miraculous cut out pass from the ruck to winger Josh Reis who crossed over in the corner with twenty to spare.
With some courageous defence, grit and determination the first grade boys were able to keep their unbeaten streak alive closing the game 34-26.
As this season has shown rugby is a game of two halves and the boys simply stepped up to the occasion, new recruit Stuart Sellar played out of his skin out at back row. His toughness, physicality and grit was simply superb.
Despite going down 14-0 the second grade boys played an incredibly courageous game against what was a tough and rugged Eagles side. It was safe to say that due to the conditions the forwards had their work cut out for them, however throughout a lot of the game we saw a consistent kicking game from both sides led by Tom Callaughan. However it didn’t take long for the cracks to show as a lovely set of hands from the Gungahlin side put their outside centre in the corner in the 13th minute which saw the score go Gungahlin’s way 7-0.
25 minutes into the game Gungahlin were a sure thing to score, building up phase after phase in the Owls 22, however it was the courageous defence from second row Stee Tikomainiusiladi that forced the knock on and diminished the eagles chances on scoring again. Towards the end of the first half the second grade boys looked as if they were going to cross the line with consistent pressure from half back Findlay Doyle providing excellent service to Callaughan all day.
Nonetheless the Eagles defence was simply to strong, denying any opportunity for the Owls boys to cross the line. Half time 7-0 to the Eagles.
The dawn of the second half saw old man Fez display his physicality with great contact off the kickoff. The first ten minutes off the second half saw the Eagles consistently building phases in the Owls half, but once again the second grade boys consistently denied the Eagles of any scoring opportunity through their raw physicality and solid defence. Things were looking promising around the fifty minute mark with a scrum on our own five metre line saw a number of phases built to halfway, however the wet weather played its part and forced plenty of handling errors from both sides. Halfway through the second half saw super sub Declan Tancred make his return back to the club at half back replacing club captain Findlay Doyle who had a great stint.
As the game went on all players begun to get into the thick of it. Jo’burg native Leo Michaels wasn’t afraid to get his jersey dirty on the wing, hitting the ball up and coming out of the line on numerous occasions. With five minutes the go it was tit for tat between the two sides with the Eagles attacking the Owls line with everything they had, eventually the discipline gave in which saw the home side concede a late penalty towards the end of the game. The Eagles captain elected to take a scrum from five metres out, their forwards were simply to strong on the day pushing the scrum to the try line and dotting it down on the bell. Final score 14-0 to Gungahlin.
With the Eagles third grade side coming off a resounding win against Vikings it was fair to say that the Owls third grade boys had their work cut out for them. On what was a cold rainy day it’s fair to say it was not an ideal day for footy. Straight away our boys knew that this Gungahlin side was here to play, their physicality and strength in the forward pack was extremely tough to match, especially with such a young side.
Early on in the game the new halves pairing of Jake Maloney and Declan Tancred looked extremely promising with the little amount of ball the third grade boys were given. For much of the first half the boys were on the back foot mainly due to the sheer size difference between the two packs. Young guns Sam Lindeman in the back row and Sam Larritt at fullback muscled up to the Eagles side especially Larritt who made a number of metres from kick returns despite the horrendous conditions. Sam Lindeman definitely displayed his worthiness on the field with a number of breaks and forcing a number of turnovers.
Despite the wet weather the Eagles boys were happy to throw the ball around the paddock which saw the cracks show within the Owls defence with the Eagles boys notching a couple of quick tries. However today saw the return of club favourite Toby Tiffin who eventually came off the bench to add some size to the pack. Considering the lack of training Tiff committed to over the course of lockdown he muscled up unbelievably in defence and around the breakdown area.
Another Owls favourite James ‘Nips’ Nicholas had an absolute blinder, consistently hitting rucks, sticking to his tackles also displaying a huge amount of stamina and endurance especially being on the receiving end on a couple of big hits.
Despite consistently being on the back foot the Owls limited the Eagles boys to 19-0 at halftime, however they had their work cut out for them in the second half. It didn’t take long for the third grade boys to respond early into the second half with a lovely set of hands saw Jock Sinclair dot down in the corner. With the failed conversion the third grade boys were hissing for more action and that action came very quickly. Alex Van Dartel who has been incredibly consistent all season was an absolute workhorse in the engine room forcing a number of turnovers and making a lot of crunching tackles. However the highlight of the day was the big boy from the south coast Angus Clark make the hit of the week. The Eagles break was finished off by a hospital pass which saw the Clarky shoot up and crunch the Eagles back into next week. This resounding hit put the third grade boys into another gear and boost the morale.
It was fair to say that the wet weather played a massive part in the game which saw a huge amount of scrums around the field which favoured the Eagles pack, giving them consistent possession of the ball. Despite the courageous effort from the boys the Eagles boys were simply too good on the day. Both their back line and forward pack proved to strong for the Owls boys on the day however the valiant effort from the third graders did not go unnoticed especially the work from the back three in the back line more specifically Jock Sinclair and Sam Larritt who both paired incredibly well together. However true leadership was displayed on the field on the day by none other than third grade captain Sam Ogilvy, he was one of few who were able to size up to the rugged Eagles pack. Full Time 33-5 to the Eagles.
The Frothies turned in a much improved performance against the Eagles playing with much more structure and intent going down 17 – 10. The conditions were a bit kinder to the Frothies but it was still very much wet weather footy with the occasional burst of rain affecting handling for both sides.
Particularly pleasing was the teams response to niggle and intimidation never backing down and making their presence felt. Ill discipline and a desire to intimidate saw the Eagles down to 13 men but scrambled well in defence and the Frothies were unable to capitalise on the two man advantage.
Samuel Thompson was particularly aggressive in defence and there will be some sore bodies today in living rooms around Canberra. Sam’s hostility did see him sitting in the naughty chair for an accidental tip tackle on a Gungahlin player but he still turned in a Man-of-the-Match performance. Sam Rolfe was also a stand out with excellent commitment to the carry and good organisation in defence and attack. He was also instrumental in setting up the only try with a cultured and well weighted nudge down the left hand edge. Finn Frewen was composed at 10 showcasing his skills and his desire to take on the line and his decision making was solid, his general play kicking was excellent making large amounts of territory. Other players worthy of note include James Footit and Thomas Hannan who made solid contributions and defended strongly making good reads to snuff out Eagles attack, particularly in the wide channels.
The Frothies squad has the ability to beat all the sides that we have played in the competition. There is a need to pick up our intensity at the breakdown to secure our own ball and put pressure on their opponents with line speed and aggression.