The Uni-Norths Owls have started their John I Dent Cup season with a strong win over the Queanbeyan Whites 23-40. This makes it two losses on the trot for the Whites, a less than desirable start for their season. The Owls scrummaging power was their most potent weapon on the day along with an impressive second half revival, amassing 33 points.
Having played their first game the week before, the Whites looked to be switched on from the kick-off and jumped to an early lead. Flyhalf Will Goddard showcased his range of skills early with a penalty goal and try assist within the first ten minutes.
Winger Levi Clark was the man to finish the try and Goddard converted. Clark was in again for his second try ten minutes later to give the Whites a 15-point lead heading towards the intermission. It was beginning to look like a horror start for the Uni-Norths Owls, looking to be off Queanbeyan’s pace.
However, just as the hooter sounded for the end of the first half Owls winger Josh Reis scored a powerful try to bring the Owls back to life. The set piece play working precisely with Reis showing his strength to spin out of a Goddard tackle.
Owls fullback Jordan Thompson converted making the halftime score 15-7.The importance of scoring at the end of halves proved to be of great significance as the Owls had totally swung momentum for the second half. It took just four minutes for the Owls to find the try line in the second half. Damaging backrower Phil Ferreira received a short ball from halfback Creighton to score under the Queanbeyan posts.
Thompson converted the try to put the Owls one point behind, the score 15-14.Owls flyhalf Willoughby Axelsen, who had shown great defensive ability throughout the game finally had a chance to score some points. The Queanbeyan defensive line was shifting hard across to the touchline, Axelsen spotted a half-gap and crashed over the line to score.
Thompson missed the conversion, the score 15-19. The Owls were pulling away.Whites flyhalf Goddard was doing his best to drag his team back into the contest. He kicked a penalty goal to close the points gap to 18-19. These penalty opportunities were beginning to disappear for the Whites. Their forward pack was beginning to haemorrhage penalties at the scrum.
In the 58th minute the Owls scrum was proving its dominance just ten metres from the Queanbeyan try line. Repeated infringements by the Queanbeyan pack led the referee to award a penalty try to the Owls, an automatic seven points. Spare a thought for Whites reserve prop Ben Gordon who had been sent on as a replacement less than five minutes earlier.
Not only was he walking into a dire scrummaging situation, but he received a yellow card for his team’s infringements and was sent off just as quickly. The score was now 18-26 and the Owls were playing with a man advantage. Queanbeyan flyer Levi Clark secured his hat trick with a well worked try in the corner.
This would be the last points for the Whites as Goddard’s conversion attempt ricocheted off the crossbar.
In the 68th minute debutant centre for the Owls Josh Gray wriggled out of some soft Queanbeyan defence to score from 20m out. Thompson converted to give the Owls a ten-point lead, 23-33, with ten minutes left to play. Replicating his first half efforts, Owls winger Josh Reis crossed for his second try on the hooter.
The try was set up following long phase play by the Owls, the ball going through many hands before Reis finished off the play. Thompson converted the score from the touch line to make the fulltime score 23-40.A tough loss for the Whites as they were hoping to bounce back from their loss against Queanbeyan.
They now go into a bye week before facing a red-hot Gungahlin side in round four. The Owls take the win and move on to face Wests for their first home game next week.
Words: Eamon Moore