John I Dent Cup Round 1 Previews

Saturday, 31 March, 2012
Kick-off times:
First Grade: 3.05pm, Reserve Grade: 1.40pm, Colts: 12.15pm

Match of the Round
Queanbeyan v Gungahlin, Campese Field, Queanbeyan
A highly anticipated 2012 John I Dent Cup season gets underway with the injection of Brumbies contacted players providing a huge boost to the competition. Round 1 sees the clash of two of the competition heavy weights, the Queanbeyan Whites and Gungahlin Eagles at Campese Oval.

The Whites will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of missing the finals last season, and will no doubt be fired up for a big first up performance in front of their home supporters. Coach Wayne Southwell will be looking to senior players such as Captain Dan Penca, Leslie Makin and Matthew Hirst to lead an essentially young side, with several members of the Colts Premiership sides of recent seasons making the step up to first grade. The Whites will be aided by the services of flying Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani, who will add some pace to a backline also including talented fullback Tyler Stevens who returns to the club from a stint of club rugby in Sydney.

Gungahlin will be another side looking to go a step further after what was a promising 2011. A strong regular season where the Eagles finished in second place was followed by a finals series in which they struggled to find their best form, crashing out in the Preliminary Final to Wests. They will have to do so without some experienced first grade players, and will also be fielding a fairly inexperienced side this season. The backrow of Rutikha Ilolahia, Xavier Duffy and Captain Ben McGee who all had outstanding seasons in 2011 will shoulder a lot of the responsibility for Owen Finegan’s side. The backline will be well serviced by Brumby Runners centre Mitch Connolly and talented Brumbies contracted player Cam Crawford who will take his place on the wing for the Eagles on Saturday. A hard fought contest between these two proud clubs is certainly expected to open the 2012 season.

Easts v Uni-Norths, Griffith Oval, Griffith
With both clubs missing out on the final four last season, a hard fought encounter is expected with both teams eager to get 2012 off to a winning start. The hosts will be boosted this weekend by the inclusion of Brumbies players in prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa and lock Ben Hand, and Coach Adam Friend will be looking for them to combine with experienced first graders in Chris Cocca and Sam Shirely to lead what is a young and relatively inexperienced back line.

Uni-Norths after a promising start in 2011 struggled in the back half of the season and will be looking for better things under new Coach Ric Shuttleworth. They are another however who have lost many players from 2011 and will be relying on some new faces along with experienced first graders Stan Williams, Hugh Alexander and Bhiamie Williamson to steer the ship in the right direction. The Owls will be boosted by the services of hard working Brumbies No 8 Dylan Sigg and flyer Tom Cox this weekend. A close encounter between two sides desperate to gain some early points will no doubt unfold at Griffith Oval on Saturday afternoon.