Griffin Legal John I Dent Cup 2018 Season Review: Uni Norths

Griffin Legal John I Dent Cup 2018 Season Review: Uni Norths

SEASON RANK: 3rd (lost in Minor Semi-Final, Elimination Final)

Founded: 1938
Head Coach: TONY DOHERTY
Captain: DAVID BENNETT
Home Ground: ANU NORTH OVAL

REVIEW

The Uni-Norths Owls 2018 season was one of incredible highs and desperate lows. Earning the moniker of ‘Giant Killers’, Uni-Norths overcame early struggles to claim third spot on the ladder, earning a place in the finals for the first time since ’01 with some comfort.

However, their fairy-tale run did not have a story-book ending, and their season finished with a heartbreaking loss to the Gungahlin Eagles in the Minor Semi-Final. The Owls had a different look to them from the very start, mostly down to a new coaching team. Brumbies Women’s Head-Coach Tony Doherty took over the running at ANU North-Oval in the offseason, and it was clear that the Owls style had changed.

It took a little time for the results to match the endeavour, but they stuck with it and eventually the wins came. Ironically, it was against the Eagles when Uni-Norths got going, winning 22-10. The Owls charge stalled for two games, but they recovered in Round 9, again dispatching Gungahlin, 25-24. The next set of fixtures was where the Owls really started making noise.

Winning six from seven, they rocketed up the standings, even threatening to break into the top two. A highlight of that period came in Round 15 when the Owls beat Royals, announcing themselves as a real premiership contender. Then came their old foe, Gungahlin. On the final day of the season, with the Eagles needing a bonus-point win to sneak into the playoffs, the Owls crumbled, losing 47-5.

In terms of table position, it was meaningless for the Owls, but the psychological gauntlet had been laid down by Gungahlin, and a week later in the Minor-Semi, the Eagles just seemed to have the Owls number. The Owls put up an incredible fight in that game, almost staging the most unlikely of comebacks, but they were ultimately left to ponder missed opportunities. Still, a fantastic season for the Owls, they will be back in 2019 with an improving squad and a score to settle.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT

The Owls win away to the would-be Champions Vikings sticks out as their highlight of 2018. Having come agonisingly close to beating the Vikings in Round three, the Owls were perhaps slightly more confident than usual entering Viking Park in Round 11.

It was a game of two halves, to borrow a stock rugby phrase but credit to the Owls boys, they came out on top. Incredibly, the Owls found themselves up 31-7 at the break. The Vikings came storming back in the second-period and had a chance to again deny the Owls a famous win in the dying moments of the game. The visitors held firm, somehow holding on for a season-defining 31-28 triumph.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Dave Bennett leads by example. In 2018, the Owls captain was sensational, winning the clubs best and fairest, as well as being honoured with the Anderson Trophy for Sportsmanship at the McDougall Medal Awards. A good sport, but one who doesn’t hold back either. The Owls openside terrorises opposition at the breakdown.

Invariably, if you’re watching the Owls play and someone gets a turnover or there’s a penalty awarded their way, Bennett is involved. A late season injury cruelly denied him the chance to play in the Finals, but Bennett was at the centre of why the Owls were so improved in 2018, leading to a top-three finish and a first playoff berth in many moons.

TOP TRY SCORERS

7 – Callum RICHARDSON
6 – Panashe KAMHARA
5 – Daniel PARETE
4 – David BENNETT, Ben LOVE
3 – Phil FERREIRA
2 – Willoughby AXELSON, Tom GILMORE, Sam IRWIN, Trent STOREN
1 – Ben ALEXANDER, Max BODE, Isileli FA, Tamera HIKARU, Nick JONES, James LYNCH, Stee TIKOT, David VERRYNE, Penalty TRY

TOP POINTS SCORERS

77 – Sam IRWIN
52 – Jordan THOMPSON
35 – Callum RICHARDSON
30 – Panashe KAMHARA
25 – Daniel PARETE
20 – David BENNETT, Ben LOVE
15 – Phil FERREIRA
13 – Tom GILMORE
10 – Willoughby AXELSON, Trent STOREN
7 – Penalty TRY
5 – Ben ALEXANDER, Max BODE, Isileli FA, Tamera HIKARU, Nick JONES, James LYNCH, Stee TIKOT, David VERRYNE

SEASON RESULTS

R1: Easts (a) L 20-22
R2: Whites (h) L 15-24
R3: Vikings (h) D 17-17
R4: Bye
R5: Eagles (h) W 22-10
R6: Royals (a) L 24-26
R7: Wests (h) L 13-31
R8: Bye
R9: Eagles (h) W 25-24
R10: Easts (a) W 41-26
R11: Vikings (a) W 31-28
R12: Whites (a) L 17-24
R13: Bye
R14: Easts (h) W 41-17
R15: Royals (h) W 26-25
R16: Wests (a) W 40-12
R17: Eagles (a) L 5-47
ESF: Eagles (n) L 17-27



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