Canberra Royals have claimed victory 31-10 on Saturday afternoon at Griffith Oval against Easts. It was a thrilling match throughout as both teams were courageous in defence and put up a fair fight in what was a close encounter for the majority of the match.
The match started off with a bang as Royals scored a try one minute into play. Rory Scott was on the receiving end of several pick and go phases after a scrum on Easts 5m line. It set up a difficult conversion for Pedro Rolando from the sideline which was unsuccessful.
It was messy opening stanza as both teams struggled to string several phases together, causing many set piece opportunities off scrums. Easts big front row consisting of Andrew Whittle and John Bosco had the best initial hit in the scrums but Royals were able to gather power as a pack and force Easts back.
This gave Royals the perfect opportunity to kick down deep into Easts territory and try to make something of it. They got close only for a potential try to be held up and Royals openside flanker Luke Kimber receive a red card for striking an opposition player in the face.
Despite having one less player than Easts in the scrum, Royals still had the upper hand punishing Easts and forcing penalties left right and centre with Faalelei Sione their standout player in the front row.A mistake from Royals in the lineout proved costly as the overthrow was regathered by Easts.
Flyhalf Jacob Angelatos threw the cutout ball to Captain George Morseu who then straightened up, did a little chip and chase, regathered and went straight for the corner giving Easts their first points of the match.
However Royals were quick to bounce back and the experience of Flyhalf Craig McMahon was all that was needed as he threw a miracle cutout pass to Lincoln Smith on the wing. Pedro Rolando converted successfully from the sideline giving Royals a 12-5 lead going into the half time break.
It was clear that Royals coach Wayne Southwell was not pleased with his sides first half performance as he his frustration was heard from all over the field. Both teams struggled to string several phases together causing a very stop-start first half and lacking a flowing game.The second half of the match could be split into its own two halves.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half it was a close contest. Royals for the first ten minutes or so had all of the momentum behind them but still struggled to break the advantage line of Easts defence. A terrific covering tackle from Easts inside centre Fabian Tago saved a definite try which in turn caused all the momentum to switch back to Easts.
Angelatos showed how much of a player he has grown in the last 12 months as he took his time with the ball and made smart kick choices when trying to force the error from Royals.
However some decisions like choosing not to kick for points and electing for scrums could of cost Easts some crucial points as Royals found open space in the backfield and booted it downfield.It was all Royals from here. Within eight minutes, Royals scored three unanswered tries and ran away with the match.
Seth Going crossed for a double has he annihilated Easts defensive line and threw a big dummy on Morseu. His second try was off the back of a cross field kick from McMahon and beat Morseu at fullback again but this time with a side-step. Lincoln Smith also scored off a quick turnover at the breakdown from Connal McInnerney.
Easts did score manage to score a consolation try by Tom Watego at the end after the siren but it wouldn’t change the outcome of the match as Royals pulled away too quickly.Full time at Griffith Oval had Royals beating Easts 31-10. Next week, Easts have the bye and Royals travel to Wests who lost in a close fought battle to Uni-North 25-19.
Words: Rob Davison