The Wests Lions ahve held on to third spot on the John I Dent Cup ladder after holding on 23-20 in atrocious conditions against the Queanbeyan Whites at Jamison Oval.
The clash was a very important one for both sides, who along with the Gungahlin Eagles were tied on three wins a piece.
Wests would have been the favourites to take third spot after consecutive wins over Uni-Norths Owls and most importantly the strong Eagles outfit last week.
While the Whites found themselves equal first after the first fortnight of competition, they have now lost four of their past five games, and have lost their last three.
Execution and less than 80 minute performances have been their undoing, and they will not take any confidence knowing they have had very tight losses to top four sides in the Canberra Royals, the Eagles and the Lions.
Coach Adam Fahey had called upon his men to execute training drills in game play to get back on the winners list, but an uncontrolled first half gave them little chance in the pouring rain against Wests on Saturday, and it is now up to the Whites to consolidate heading into the second half of the season.
Wests have been in brilliant defensive form of late, and that did not change against the Whites.
In wet conditions, the kicking game of both sides was always going to be critical, and despite some early push forward from Queanbeyan, Wests held solid and kicked their way to a 3-0 lead.
Mistakes sea-sawed between both sides in the sloppy conditions, with passes going to ground and balls slipping off the side of the boot.
It appeared it would be the clash of two of the competitions sharp shooters in Tim Small and Sam Windsor, but after most of the first half had passed Wests finally got some attacking field position, and forward Ben Coutts finally grabbed the opening try to secure a handy 10 point advantage.
Wests then found complete momentum, and began to throw the ball around more. The risk payed dividends, with winger Drew Southwell scoring yet another try and Small adding to his competition-leading points tally to affect what proved to be a game winning 17-3 half time lead.
Queanbeyan went to another gear in the second half, soon scoring two tries and effectively winning the second half, but a further two penalty goals to Small put the game beyond doubt.
Ultimately Wests handled the conditions better than Queanbeyan, and their recent surge in form gives them a deserved third spot on the John I Dent Cup ladder.
Wests Lions 23 bt Queanbeyan Whites 20 at Jamison Oval
Tuggeranong Vikings v Uni-Norths Owls at ANU North Oval
The Tuggeranong Vikings have recorded the biggest win of the 2013 John I Dent Cup season, smashing the hapless Uni-Norths Owls 64-10 at ANU North Oval.
The first versus last clash was never in doubt, with Tuggeranong recordin their seventh straight win after the result, while Uni-Noths reamin winless still, and have dropped their last seven straight.
Uni_Norths were first to score in the game, taking a 3-0 lead, and were strong enough to be down by just 14 points not too long after.
But from there it was all the Vikings, and an impressive five tries to number eight Tim Cree helped his side to their whopping 64 points.
Coach Brad Harris was very pleased with his men’s perfromance, but was surprsied by Uni-Norths competitive nature early in the contest.
“As usual, Uni-Norths competed all day, and we ran away with it in the second half, but certainly it was tough going early,” said Harris.
“They came out early and they certainly had a go which they do, which we expected, and then we just got a foot hold in the game.”
Harris was very impressed with Cree’s effort, especially after he played a full game on Friday night for the ACT Griffins.
“For him to back up today with that sort of performance, I can’t speak highly enough of him,” said Harris.
The Vikings have some injury concerns going into their blockbuster clash against the Canberra Royals next Saturday, with only three of their seven ACT representative players backing up from Friday night’s clash against NSW Country.
Cree, winger Jerome Niumata and prop Michale Henry played yesterday, but each of prop Sione Taula, flanker Gareth Clouston, centre Rodney Iona and fullback Brenden Tuaeki are on an injury cloud.
This will make things harder for the competition leaders against a sky high Royals outfit who were able to rest this weekend with a bye.
As for Uni-Norths, things will not get easier next week, as they take on the in-form Gungahlin Eagles at home.
With a win against Easts on Saturday, the Eagles will be chasing the top three heading into the second half of the season.
Tuggeranong Vikings 64 bt Uni-Norths Owls 10 at ANU North Oval
Gungahlin Eagles v Eastern Suburbs at Griffith Oval
The Gungahlin Eagles have leap-frogged the Queanbeyan Whites into fourth spot on the John I Dent Cup ladder with a comfortable 34-12 win over Eastern Suburbs at Griffth Oval.
The result was a crucial one for the Eagles after they had lost their last two games against the Canberra Royals and Wests Lions, and were beginning to lose touch with the top of the competition.
They play Uni-Norths next week in round 10, and will surely be looking for a percentage boost against the competition’s cellar-dwellars if they are serious about contesting the likes of Vikings, Royals and Lions again this season.
The loss for Easts virtually puts them out of finals contention, with three losses in a row after surprising the rest of teh competition with two early wins, more than what they had had in two years.
That included to shock four point win over Wests.
However execution and poor choices in attack have been letting them down, and this is something they will need to continue working on.
But as for Gungahlin, they have been getting the simple plays right, and are certainly a team to watch coming into the second half of the season.
Gungahlin Eagles 34 bt Eastern Suburbs 12 at Griffith Oval
BYE: Canberra Royals