Easts v Queanbeyan
Queanbeyan's Billy Chalker scores. Photo: Elesa Kurtz
South African recruit Altus Momsen booted the Queanbeyan Whites to an "ugly" win against Easts and the playmaker says he still has his sights set on a spot in the Canberra Vikings squad for the inaugural National Rugby Championship.
As former ACT Brumbies coach Jake White returned to Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, it was fitting that Momsen's goalkicking was the difference as the Whites scrapped their way to a 24-17 win at Griffith Oval.
World Cup-winning coach White lured Momsen and his brother H.P. to Canberra's John I Dent Cup competition when he was in charge of the Brumbies.
And while White quit halfway through a four-year deal, Momsen is intent on making the most of his move from Cape Town to Australia by securing a spot in the Vikings' NRC squad.
"It would be nice to catch up with Jake while he's here; he's definitely one of the major reasons we came to Canberra," Momsen said.
"He's not here anymore, but we're not going to change our minds. Our goal is to play for the Brumbies and the NRC team at the end of the year; that's the dream we're working towards."
Momsen's 14-point haul separated Queanbeyan and Easts as the Whites secured a morale-boosting win.
Easts shocked the Whites early with winger Matt Giugni scoring to lift the home side to a 10-6 half-time lead.
The Whites struggled to get any momentum in the second half, but when Easts failed to capitalise on their territory domination, Queanbeyan finally kicked into gear.
Captain Dan Penca was the first to score, getting the perfect end to a 20-metre rolling maul to put Queanbeyan in front for the first time.
Powerful No. 8 Tai Valeni turned the game in the Whites' favour.
Two years ago Valeni rocked up at Queanbeyan training in fluro work gear and asked coach Adam Fahey for a game.
Against Easts, Valeni's powerfully built frame won a crucial penalty at the breakdown and then went within inches of scoring a match-winning try.
"He's been outstanding for us, arguably our best. He's still got a lot to earn, but bigger honours could be ready for him if he continues to improve," Fahey said.
"He puts fear into opposition. He came out of the car park in fluro gear wanting a game and now he's got a cult following."
With Queanbeyan leading 21-10, Giugni scored his second try with five minutes left to give Easts hope.
But Momsen slotted a penalty goal to seal the win for Queanbeyan.
"It was ugly, but it was a win we needed to have. There was nothing pretty about it, but it was gutsy," Fahey said.
"Those are the sorts of wins that can get your confidence up. The big positive for me is that we didn't fall into the same traps as [the loss to Uni-Norths] last week."
Easts are still searching for their first win of the season but coach Jeremy Osborne is confident the players will reap the rewards of a better attitude.
"There's been some bickering in our team and I finally think the guys are on the same page," Osborne said.
"If we do that, put their bodies on the line ... our little five-eighth Darcy Easton was outstanding ... and if we do that we'll win more than we lose."
In other matches, the Tuggeranong Vikings won the top-of-the-table contest against Gungahlin, while two players were knocked out - one for each team - in a brutal contest as Wests beat the Uni-Norths Owls.
AT A GLANCE
QUEANBEYAN WHITES 24 (B Chalker, D Penca tries; A Momsen 4 penalties, conversion) bt EASTS 17 (M Giugni 2 tries; D Easton 2 conversions, penalty); WESTS 32 bt UNI-NORTHS OWLS 18; TUGGERANONG VIKINGS 45 bt GUNGAHLIN EAGLES 11.