Uni-Norths player, Sasha Mielczarek tackles Wests player, Drew Southwell. Photo: Graham Tidy
THEY have been forced into some unusual training venues, but Wests are starting to hit their straps after ending Uni-Norths' unbeaten start to the John I Dent Cup.
A double to second-rower Ben Coutts helped Wests keep the pressure on the top of the table Tuggeranong Vikings with a 25-18 win against the Owls at ANU Oval yesterday.
Wests captain Aaron McInnes was pleased to have secured a four-try bonus point but said his side's early-season form had been hampered by a disrupted pre-season training schedule.
''We were unable to train on a lot of the ovals, so we were inside basketball courts and tennis courts with some of the Government ground closures,'' McInnes said.
''We're probably a week or two behind where we want to be, but we're slowly building.''
It took half an hour before winger Jon Anderson broke the penalty goal deadlock to give Wests an 8-3 lead at the break.
The points flowed more freely in the second 40 minutes, Wests only putting the result beyond doubt when Devilliers Hugo beat Brumbies-contracted winger Tom Cox one on one in the 67th minute.
The Owls scored a well-deserved late consolation try and slotted a penalty goal after the siren to earn a bonus point for losing by seven points or less.
Uni-Norths coach Richard Shuttleworth was forced into blooding several new faces in his backline, and admitted a lack of depth was an issue.
''They've got a very physical, slower forward pack than us and we got ground into their type of play when we wanted to free it up,'' Shuttleworth said.
''The average of age of our team, they're 19, 20, 22.
''I don't like to use the excuse that we're developing, but at the end of the day we've got young guys who have done well so far.''
The Vikings are the only team with a perfect record after five rounds of the competition after their 46-19 thumping of winless Easts at Griffith Oval, while Queanbeyan made up ground on the top four with a 29-22 upset of Royals at Phillip Oval.
AT A GLANCE
John I Dent Cup round five: WESTS 25 (B Coutts 2; J Anderson; D Hugo tries; G McKercher con, pen) bt UNI-NORTHS 18 (H Alexander, D Bennett tries; W Wilson 2 pen, con) at ANU North Oval; TUGGERANONG 46 bt EASTS 19 at Griffith Oval; QUEANBEYAN 29 bt ROYALS 22 at Phillip Oval