Whites go down in thriller
Courtesy of Canberra Times
THE Canberra Royals are adamant they can break a 22-year premiership drought and end Tuggeranong’s stranglehold on the trophy when they play in their first grand final in more than a decade next weekend.
Royals qualified for the season decider with an absorbing win over the Queanbeyan Whites 33-30 on Saturday at Viking Park.
Four tries between wing duo Liam Slater and Seth Going lifted Royals to a thrilling win and earned them their first grand-final berth since 2002.
To win their first premiership since 1991 they’ll have to beat a rampaging Tuggeranong, which is aiming for a title three-peat.
It’s a task that doesn’t faze the gutsy Royals, who overcame the loss of three starting players to beat Queanbeyan and withstood a Whites comeback in the dying minutes.
Royals coach Russell Ingram is confident his side can regroup and finally break Tuggeranong’s dominance.
Tuggeranong has played in the past four grand finals and won three. ”We overcame adversity, a squad wins you a premiership and today that showed, this is a courageous group of guys,” Ingram said.
”In three games against Tuggeranong there’s been about one point between us, it’s going to be a tight one.”
Royals will be without Australian sevens player and Olympic Games hopeful Tom Cusack.
Cusack ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the semi-final and faces up to 10 months on the sideline as he decides whether to have a traditional reconstruction or the revolutionary LARS surgery.
Cusack had impressed the Australian sevens coaches and was aiming for selection at the Games in Rio in 2016 when the rugby format makes its Olympic debut.
While Royals were riding high, the Whites were left shattered after they handed over a half-time lead and cost themselves a place in the grand final.
Had Queanbeyan won, the club would have fielded teams in every grand final next weekend.
The Whites were privately fuming with some controversial refereeing decisions.
Royals stole the ascendancy after half-time and took the lead with 28 minutes left in the match.
Slater scored his second try seven seconds after ACT Brumbies and Whites playmaker Robbie Coleman was sent to the bin and then Going scored his second to seal the result.
Queanbeyan No.8 Tom Darmody scored a try with time running out to give his team hope, but in the end coach Adam Fahey said poor execution cost the Whites.
”We lacked the composure and patience we’ve shown in the last month that wins you big games,” Fahey said.
”The occasion got to us a little bit and we didn’t execute as well as we should have. Credit to Royals, they responded to semi-final pressure better than we did. It does hurt to get so far and fall so short.”
AT A GLANCE
ROYALS 33 (L Slater 2, S Going 2 tries; C McMahon 3 penalties, 2 conversions) bt
QUEANBEYAN WHITES 30 (C Barbaro, L Freeth, T Darmody, D Penca tries; S Windsor 2 penalties, 2 conversions)
John I Dent Cup grand final: Saturday, Tuggeranong Vikings v Royals at Viking Park, 3.15pm.
Whites set up Royals showdown
Courtesy of The Queanbeyan Age
THE Queanbeyan Whites will meet Royals in next weekend’s John I Dent Cup preliminary-final after crushing Wests 45-18 at Viking Park on Sunday.
To see The Queanbeyan Age’s photo gallery from Sunday’s clash, see above.
Boosted by the late inclusion of Brumbies playmaker Robbie Coleman just days after his return from the World Club Sevens tournament in London, the Whites were never troubled in the runaway victory.
Showing no ill-effect from his recent travels, Coleman opened the scoring for the Whites inside the first 10 minutes and from there it was all one way traffic.
Tries to Tom Darmody, HP Momsen and a second to Coleman saw the Whites hold a 28-6 lead at the main break.
And when Queanbeyan was first to score in the second half, the result was effectively put beyond doubt with half an hour still to play.
The Whites will now meet Royals at Viking Park next Saturday for the chance to take on Tuggeranong in the grand final.
In other results, Queanbeyan moved directly through to the grand final in second grade, third grade and fourth grade after major semi-final victories.
Colts and the Whites women however, have been forced into elimination finals this weekend after suffering surprise semi-final defeats.
Coleman stars as Whites demolish Wests
Courtesy of Canberra Times
Queanbeyan Whites star Robbie Coleman says his team’s best form is still to come despite romping into the John I Dent Cup preliminary final with a crushing win over Wests on Sunday.
Coleman scored two tries in the first half as the Whites cruised to a 45-18 win at Viking Park.
The 27-point demolition means the Whites will play against Royals in the preliminary final on Saturday. The winner advances to the grand final against two-time defending champion Tuggeranong.
Coleman put in a star performance at flyhalf just three days after arriving back in Australia following the ACT Brumbies triumph at the world club sevens in London.
Coleman was so jet-lagged he took a long nap on Thursday and slept through Queanbeyan’s last training session before the clash with Wests.
But the unsettled preparation did little to disrupt Coleman as the Whites edged closer to a grand-final berth.
”I made a rookie mistake and fell asleep at lunch on Thursday, so I had a seven-hour afternoon nap and didn’t make it to training,” Coleman said. ”The guys at Queanbeyan make it easy to slot back in. If we can deliver our best performance, there’s no reason why we can’t go all the way.
”After [Sunday], I don’t think we played our best football and if we do get our best going, I think we’ve got one of the strongest teams in the comp.”
Queanbeyan coach Adam Fahey had the luxury of giving some of his stars a break.
”The score didn’t reflect the game, we didn’t execute as well as we would have liked and we’ve got a lot of improving to do if we want to mix it with Royals next week,” Fahey said.
Wests coach Craig Robberds lamented inconsistent performances that cost his team a chance at grand-final redemption, having lost the past two to Tuggeranong.
”It would have been nice to have another crack, but Queanbeyan were big, strong and physical and Robbie Coleman added the class,” Robberds said.