Report by Alyce Giorgioni
The Gungahlin Bulls defeated the Woden Valley Rams 34 – 20 in a high-scoring game for their fourth win in a row.
The round eight clash was a must-win for each side as they head towards the grand final, but the Bulls were just too good on the day.
The high scoring first half saw three tries a piece, with a conversion the difference going into half time, but tensions grew in the second half with a number of penalties awarded with the season coming to an end.
The Rams got off to a good start, forcing a goal-line drop-out five minutes in, but the Bulls stripped the ball to regain possession early in the set.
The Bulls worked it down the field, helped by a penalty, but the Rams goal-line defence was too strong.
Todd Sherd opened the scoring for the Bulls with a try after 10 minutes of play. The conversion was unsuccessful by Tre Holton-Williams for a score of 4 – 0.
The Bulls went back to back with a try to Jack Williams down the sideline with seven minutes left in the first quarter for an 8 – 0 lead. Holton-Williams couldn’t add the extra two.
The Rams hit back through Lazarus Vaalepu with a four-pointer under the posts with four left to go before the first break. Brayden Robertson successfully converts to close in on the Bulls lead 8 – 6.
Gungahlin pulled out another one on one strip to regain possession, but a stoppage in play took their momentum as Woden’s Scott Swanson was helped from the field.
The Rams threatened the line early in the second quarter with a good kick chase into the in-goal, but the kick was just too big and the Bulls earned a seven tackle set.
Cody Smith crashed over for the Bulls early in the second quarter, and the conversion was successful to extend their lead 14 – 6.
A 40/20 from the Bulls put them back on the attack deep in the Rams half but Jackson Owen went down with a leg injury, being carried from the field.
A bomb from the rams proved too difficult for the Bulls to handle and Daniel Desmet cleaned it up to earn himself a four-pointer. Robertson added the extra two as the scoreboard ticked over to 14 – 12 with 10 to go before half time.
A penalty helped the Rams down the field and an impressive attacking play saw Gideon Afamui dive over in the corner to take the lead for the first time in the match. The conversion was unsuccessful, with the score remaining 16 – 14 to the Rams.
Daine Spencer made a break for the line but a try-saving one-on-one tackle from the Bulls held Spencer up in goal and the scores were locked in at 16 – 14 to the Rams going into half time.
Gungahlin’s Jedidiah Simbiken opened the scoring early in the second half to retake the lead and a successful conversion put them ahead by four at 20 – 16.
Linkin Bradley scored for the Bulls just before the buzzer in the third quarter for a 24 – 16 lead. An unsuccessful conversion left the scoreboard unchanged.
Simbiken spun over for his second try of the match, with all the momentum going the way of the Bulls. Simbiken was given a shot at converting his own try, but it was waved away and the scores were locked in at 24 – 16.
A flick pass from Simbiken to Alex Pettit saw him crash over the line with 12 to go, and Zachary Patch added the extra two for a 34 – 16 lead.
Brandon Donnelly scored for the Rams with three to go, but an unsuccessful conversion left the scores at 34 – 20 to end the game with a Bulls victory.