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So here we are smack bang in the middle of the 2012 John I Dent Cup. Brumbies Rugby scribe RYLEY MCKAY has evaluated your club’s performance so far this season by penning this mid-season report card.
Take a look to see how your team has fared.
The grading criteria:
A – Flying! Season couldn’t have started much better.
B – Displayed the potential to go all the way
C – Played some quality rugby and should be one of the top teams for the finals
D – Would benefit from consistency after some good and bad results
E – Struggling, but not out of the competition
What’s gone right: Pretty much everything. Nine from 10 is a pretty good start to the season by anyone’s expectations. The Vikings have taken advantage of their light injury list to boast a massive for and against of +363.
Whats’s gone wrong: First 2012 loss to Gungahlin (Round 12) has been a hiccup in an otherwise impressive title defence. Until last weekend, the Vikings looked pretty much unbeatable.
Star performers: Rodney Iona (flyhalf), JP Pradaud (tighthead prop), Beau Mokotupu (scrum-half), Tim Cree (Blindside-flanker) and Tom Murday (lock).
Future: Initially the competition was theirs to lose but Gungahlin, Wests and Queanbeyan have all proved that the Vikings are human and that they are capable of toppling the defending premiers. Vikings will be expecting opposition teams to come at them all guns blazing. It will be very surprising if they miss the 2012 John I Dent Cup Grand Final.
Western District Lions
Whats gone right: Defence has been the big improvement for 2012 Lions which has complemented their strong attack in 2011. Throughout the season Wests have displayed an ability to withstand large amounts of pressure by relying on their defence. This can be attributed to coach Craig Robberds, who implemented a defensive theme straight from the get go in pre season training following a painful grand final loss to Tuggeranong last season. Fullback Mal Barnes has also proven to be a good find for the club, filling the very large shoes left by Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg.
What’s gone wrong: Consistency at the breakdown. This was no more evident than in the round seven loss to Tuggeranong where Wests struggled to make an impact at the breakdown. Player depth has been tested at times with injuries forcing a lot of changes, this has affected consistency but all players are now back on hand for their charge into the finals.
Star performers: Junior Luteru (outside centre), Mal Barnes (fullback), Chad Joseph (Flanker) and Dave McKern (lock).
Future: Wests are still very much so on track to avenge their 2011 Grand Final loss. It’s hard to separate them from Tuggeranong and Gungahlin. On their day these three teams are all capable of beating one another. West’s will except nothing less than a premiership in 2012.
What’s gone right: In both defence and attack Gungahlin have proven that they are more than capable of taking home the 2012 John I Dent Cup premiership. They are the first team to beat Tuggeranong this season and are building into the season nicely. Coach Owen Finnegan stated that his players are very eager to make amends come finals time this year, after being bundled out in straight sets in the past two seasons.
Whats’s gone wrong: An upset loss to Uni-Norths (Round 4) and the agonizing one-point loss to Wests (Round 10) have cost the Eagles valuable competition points that could have seen them in equal first with Tuggeranong on the ladder. This will not alarm Finnegan too much as the focus is set firmly on performing come finals time.
Star performers: Ita Vaea (No.8), Ben McGee (lock), Rocky Ilolahia (Open-side flanker) and Matthew Hawke (Inside centre) have all stood up for the Eagles.
Future: All signs point to a Grand Final appearance for the Eagles who will be gearing up for a full fledged finals assault.
Currently: Equal fourth
What’s gone right: Uni-Norths have been the surprise packets of the 2012 John I Dent cup. Just weeks before round one the Owls were coach-less and a lot of people thought the students would struggle. But under the guidance of rookie coach Ric Shuttlesworth, the Owls have fought hard all year and deserve to be sitting in equal fourth. Brumbies Dylan Sigg and Tom Cox have provided good value and will continue to do so barring injury.
Whats’s gone wrong: Uni-Norths have achieved some good wins including their round four win over Gungahlin, however they have lost a lot of close games that they probably could have won if they put in a consistent effort for 80 minutes.
Star performers: Dylan Sigg (No. 8), Tom Cox (Wing), Edan Campbell (Scrumhalf), Tom Gilmore (flyhalf).
Future: A surprise finals appearance is still on the cards. They will need to prove their worth over the closing the rounds of the season to hold off the hard charging Whites and Royals outfits, because as we know three into one just doesn’t go.
Currently: Equal fourth
What’s gone right: The last three weeks have shown a high degree of improvement from the Queanbeyan Whites, who had an average start to the season by their own high standards. Coach Wayne Southwell stated, “We have improved a lot and we’re starting to achieve or goals which are based around defending better, improving our effort at the breakdown and having better ball retention.” Southwell singled out Brumbies contracted players Leon Power and Tevita Kuridrani as having a very positive influence at the club. Leon Power in particular who has displayed fantastic leadership when he is available.
What gone wrong: Defence. After 12 rounds Queanbeyan have leaked 298 points, which is very unusual for the proud club. Constant injuries and player unavailability has played its part but according to Southwell they’re now on top of this and have almost all players back on deck for the remainder of the year.
Star performers: Dan Penca (hooker), Chris Barbaro (loosehead prop), Matt Hirst (lock) and Leon Power (lock).
Future: All Queanbeyan has to do is get themselves into the final four. From there they are a very legitimate chance of causing some upsets come finals time. It all depends which Queanbeyan shows up on the day.
What’s gone right: Coach Craig Leseberg said his Royals have had no trouble scoring tries and young players such as Nick Tankey and Brendan Woodward, have stepped up to fill the voids left by injury to some of the clubs first grade talent. Sokai Tai is back from injury this week, which will be a massive boost for the forwards.
Whats’s gone wrong: Injuries have hit home pretty hard for Royals, who featured strongly in last years finals, going down narrowly to Wests in the early knock-out stages. As well as Sokai Tai spending time on the sidelines, Royals have been without Tom Cusack (Aus 20’s), David Peak, Keiran Grealish and Ben Johnston.
Star performers: Paula Latu (tighthead prop), Tyson Tamihere (No.8) and Jack Sutton (outside centre)
Future: There is still hope that Royals can make the finals but they will have to find improvement in a hurry to better Queanbeyan and Uni-Norths who will be not be letting up in their pursuit of a finals berth.
What’s gone right: It’s been a trying season for Easts in almost all facets. Without the pleasure of a win so far this year, Easts will be hoping to build from several promising performances to post their first victory in the coming weeks. Near losses to Royals and Queanbeyan suggest a win is just around the corner.
Whats’s gone wrong: As far as results are concerned just about everything. Easts really lack the depth and financial security that other clubs are blessed with.
Star performers: Heath Gibb (flyhalf) and Ben Hand (lock).
Future: Even the most diehard Easts supporter would find difficulty in suggesting a finals appearance would be possible, but should Easts build on their recent improvement they are sure to give the top teams a shake later in the year.