Easts v Queenbeyan, Griffith Oval
Hopes of an Eastern Suburbs first grade revival quickly faded in round two of the John I Dent Cup, with a 38-15 trouncing at the hands of Queanbeyan at Griffith Oval on Saturday.
Easts went in to the match more confident than they had been in two seasons, after downing Uni-Norths 20-11 in round one – their first win in 22 months.
They were also bolstered by the inclusions of Brumbies superstar Clyde Rathbone, along with Etienne Oosthuizen, for the first time this season.
But the two Super Rugby stars couldn’t rattle Queanbeyan, which played a far more complete match to take its first points for the season. For Queanbeyan, it was its first match after a round one bye, and was the first test for new coach Adam Fahey.
"We had some outcomes to achieve in round one, and we think we've achieved a lot of them," he said.
He was most impressed with his men's defensive effort, despite scoring six tries and earning a bonus point.
"At times there we just scrambled well. I don't know how we got in position quickly, but we did...I think that was the difference in the end," he said.
Easts coach Jeremy Osbourne, who rested himself from play, said poor execution in attack put them under pressure.
"We talked about playing direct all week, and I don't think we played very direct. Our centres didn't play direct enough."
A less than ideal start for Easts, with a kick out on the full outside of their own 22 metres, gave Queanbeyan the first attacking chance, and forward Billy Chalker burst through a gaping hole to score their first points of the year.
Easts struggled to hold tight early on though, and Whites scrumhalf Dan Hawke took advantage of some loose defence, assisting a 12-0 lead through Brumby flier Robbie Coleman.
While Easts refused to give in and busted the try line through Brumby Oosthuizen, Queanbeyan continued to find gaps, and Coleman’s double secured a 19-5 half time lead.
After Easts returned to the paddock with aggressive hole-busting runs and got back to within nine through fellow Brumby Stephan Van-Der-Walt, a game-defining sequence of play transpired which saw Coleman’s hat-trick extend the lead yet again.
Easts' confidence took a hit as their comeback was shut down immediately, and missed conversions kept them out of the game, as the boot of Whites' Sam Windsor kept his side well ahead by 16.
Tries to Windsor and Sevu Camivuna sealed the deal.
Easts had little relief to a late consolation by Van-Der-Walt.
Fahey was respectful to Easts in their drought-breaking win of round one, saying that despite their misfortunes in recent seasons you cannot expect to beat them willy-nilly.
Queanbeyan Whites 38 (Coleman three, Windsor, Chalker, Camivuna tries; Windsor four cons) bt Eastern Suburbs 15 (Van-Der-Walt two, Oosthuizen tries) at Griffith Park.
Tuggeranong v Gungahlin, Nicholls Oval.
Defending premiers Tuggeranong Vikings began their title defence in grand style, smashing the Gungahlin Eagles 30-14 in a physical battle.
The game was in the balance until the final 10 minutes, when the Vikings scored two tries to blow the game away.
This would no doubt have frustrated Eagles coach Owen Finegan, who has now seen his men give up points in the final minutes two weeks in a row.
New Vikings coach Brad Harris was pleased with how his men collected their first points for 2013, and was most impressed by debutant scrumhalf Joe Powell.
Tuggeranong Vikings 30 (Niumata two, Cree, Kaho, Lealiifano tries; Holmes con; pen) bt Gungahlin Eagles 14 (Mannix, Hawke; Connelly two cons) at Nicholls Oval.
Wests Lions v Canberra Royals @ Jamison Oval
2012 runners-up Wests Lions also got their season off to the ideal start, with a comfortable 32-14 win over round one winner, Canberra Royals at Jamison.
The Royals entered the game full of confidence after coming from behind to win and take a bonus point last week against Gungahlin.
But Wests showed why they will be a contender in this year's Cup, and an outstanding performance by their back-line got them over the line.
Coach Craig Robberds said that while his men's attack was in order, their defence was most impressive.
"Our attack was pretty solid, but our defence was really strong, so that was a real postive," he said.
Wests Lions 32 (Southwell, Parsons, Bornes, Small tries; Small three cons; two pens) bt Canberra Royals 14 (Pai, Sutton tries; McMahon two cons) at Jamison Oval.