The Goulburn Workers Club Dirty Reds put their stamp firmly on the ACT first division rugby competition with a confident win against co-competition leaders Canberra Royals.
Built on the back of one of their best defensive displays, the Reds took out the top of the table clash by 17-7, holding out a strong last-minute surge by Royals.
"That was a great win," said first grade coach Ben Pearson.
"The defence, especially at the end, was fantastic. They took good opportunities when they had them. There are areas to work on but that was very well done."
The score probably disguises the closeness of the match. Five minutes before half time the match was scoreless before ace try-sniffer Matt Spratley scored two tries in almost as many minutes, giving Goulburn the 12-0 lead at the break.
Royals were solid in all areas of the game. Good lineout, good scrum and strong at the breakdown. Ten minutes into the second half they replied with their own converted try and coach Pearson urged his side from the sideline to win the arm wrestle.
The Reds committed to the slog and executed any opportunities that came their way. Fullback Adam Lachlan added another try and a ten-point lead for Goulburn but Royals retained possession and field position for much of the remainder of the second half.
Even five minutes out there was a sense Royals could buy back into the game but Goulburn's diligent defence denied them as they squatted in Goulburn's quarter.
The win was Goulburn's first away win over Royals in the last four years. It was a gutsy and disciplined effort by the Reds which they'll need to continue after painting a target on their backs as competition leaders.
Best and fairest points went to Mik Webber (3), Adam Lachlan (2) and Ben Cheetham (1). Brad Clements earned the Players' Player vote.
Goulburn 17 (Matt Spratley 2, Adam Lachlan tries, Mik Webber conversion) bt Royals 7 (Chris Russell try, Sam Goodwin conversion).
Well, the weather was nice...
The Dirty Twos had a very tough day at the office, losing by 85-7 to the sizzling Royals side.
The Reggies had a bunch of people away, but to be honest even with the strongest possible reserve grade lineup, it's hard to see them (or any other team in reserve grade for that matter) beating this Royals side. Punishing at the breakdown, with a slick backline, they scored at better than a point a minute.
Making the assignment even tougher for Goulburn was the number of new players in the side. Having not trained together, many were unaware of defensive patterns, and the score could easily have been reduced to a more manageable size with a few more successful tackles and scrambling defence.
Ever the optimist, second grade coach Abram Kara added that Goulburn would have had them if the game had gone just ten more minutes.
It was a record loss for the club but there was a lot of promise and quality in the side that won against Tuggeranong just a week ago and has a lot more wins inside them this year.
Best and fairest points went to Nick Tabner (3), Chris Boardman (2), Aidan Greaves (1) and Brandon Courts (1). Greaves was also named Players' Player.
Royals 85 bt Goulburn 7 (Aidan Greaves try, Brandon Courts conversion).
Mixed bag for Women's side
The Goulburn women's team played in two matches in Canberra on Saturday, registering a loss and a draw.
In their first match against competition heavyweights Tuggeranong, Goulburn went down 20-5 with a try to Chloe Waddell, her fifth of the tournament so far.
In the second match, the Reds drew 10 all with the Bungendore Mudchooks, tries for Goulburn to Jasmine Tooth and Hollie Deaton.
Best and fairest points across the day went to Kelsey Betts (3), Bella Sheen (2) and Jasmine Tooth (1) with Bella Sheen named Players' Player.