03 Dec Griffin Legal John I Dent Cup Season Review: Wests
SEASON RANK: 7th
Head Coach: CRAIG ROBBERDS
Captain: MITCH TYE
Home Ground: JAMISON OVAL
After reaching the giddy heights of the 2017 Grand Final with a late season surge last year, the 2018 campaign was nothing short of a disaster for Wests.
Losing a raft of players in pre-season from that side didn’t help their cause and there were glimpses throughout a frustrating campaign of just what could be achieved with a coherent and settled group of players.
Big wins in mid-season over Queanbeyan Whites and Easts hinted at a possible recovery but that was as good as it got for the team that was to end the season bottom of the ladder.
They were in touch and competitive in all games, but they need to be more consistent if they are to recover their mojo in 2019. Having said that, the future appears to be reasonably bright, mostly because of the youth in the squad.
The performances of some of the young members of the team should give hope to Wests supporters, particularly Tauati Chan-Tung and Byron Holingworth-Dessent.
The former, Chan-Tung, started the season in Colts having just left High-School, but slowly earned a place in First Grade. Chan-Tung impressed many with his set-piece acumen and work rate with his teammate on the wing Hollingworth-Dessent really impressing with his ridiculous pace.
Hollingworth-Dessent struggled at times during the year, understandable for a guy also straight out of school and in a new city to boot. As the season went on, the Goulburn product started to show why the Brumbies had drafted him into their Academy structure. You can’t coach the speed Hollingworth-Dessent has, it was just about applying that to the rugby field. When he did, it was electrifying.
Still, it all amounted to a wooden-spoon finish for the Westies, the memory of 2017 serving as a cruel canvas to a poor season. Perhaps it’s simply a comment on the strength of the competition that Wests finished last. The talent is there, they have everything to prove, watch out for Western Districts in 2019.
In what was a largely disappointing season for the 2017 beaten finalists there weren’t too many highlights however all three of their victories were notable for different reasons. However, by virtue that Uni-Norths Owls made the finals, you’d have to say that the Round 7 31-13 win at ANU North Oval was the most complete performance. Flyhalf Sebastian Lorraway certainly enjoyed his afternoon out, crossing for three of Wests’ five tries with TP Luteru and Maligi Finau claiming the others. Tristan Stanley converted three of the scores on a day in which the Owls were unable to keep pace with a fired-up and determined team.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Brodie Leber was Wests standout performer in 2018. Part of the 2017 Grand-Final squad as a Colt, the 21-year-old kicked into a higher gear in 2018, growing into his role as a terror in the loose from Number 8. The sevens star was joint-top scorer for Wests, dotting down for seven tries in total despite playing in a struggling side. Leber was named in the Griffin Legal John I Dent Cup Team of the Week five times in total leading to his inclusion in the Team of the Year presented at the McDougall Medal Awards. Leber will now play in the National Rugby Championship [NRC] as well, not a bad season for the Wests brightest light.
R2: Easts (h) D 22-22
R3: Whites (h) L 20-26
R4: Eagles (a) L 31-36
R5: Royals (a) L 19-38
R6: Vikings (h) L 17-35
R7: Owls (a) W 31-13
R9: Easts (h) L 13-42
R10: Royals (a) L 0-43
R11: Whites (a) W 30-10
R12: Easts (a) W 51-36
R13: Eagles (h) L 5-29
R15: Vikings (a) L 19-55
R16: Owls (h) L 12-40
R17: Royals (h) L 22-38
TOP POINTS SCORERS
46 – Seb LORRAWAY
45 – Tristan STANLEY
35 – Brodie LEBER
20 – Byron HOLLINGWORTH-DESSENT, Ryan KIELY
19 – Mitch TYE
16 – Drew SOUTHWELL
15 – TP LUTERU
10 – Richie ARNOLD, Ben COUTTS, Mils FINAU, Matt JONES, Charlie LUTERU
5 – Tauati CHAN-TUNG, Ben JAGER, Alistar JOHNSTONE, Wes MACK, Wes TAMEIFUNA
4 – Danny MATTHEWS
2 – Chris ASHMORE
TOP TRY SCORERS
7 – Brodie LEBER, Seb LORRAWAY
4 – Byron HOLLINGWORTH-DESSENT, Ryan KIELY
3 – TP LUTERU, Mitch TYE
2 – Richie ARNOLD, Ben COUTTS, Mils FINAU, Matt JONES, Charlie LUTERU
1 – Tauati CHAN-TUNG, Ben JAGER, Alistar JOHNSTONE, Wes MACK, Wes TAMEIFUNA