Tuggeranong Vikings face Royal challenge for grand final berth

They've won the past seven John I Dent Cups between them and once again the Tuggeranong Vikings and Royals find themselves squaring off in the major semi-final on Saturday.

Royals are gunning for their first back-to-back titles in 27 years after sweeping the competition with a historic undefeated season in 2017.

Brumbies lock Darcy Swain (left) will line up for the Tuggeranong Vikings in the major semi at Viking Park on Saturday.

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Tuggeranong clinched the minor premiership this year but two of their three losses came against the Royals, including one at Viking Park which will host the finals.

Royals coach Wayne Southwell said a consecutive title would be "enormous" for the club after losing more than half their first-grade squad in the off-season.


"To lose the number that we did and then fight back and be in this position – which is the goal we set at the start of the season – is really something," Southwell said.

"The next step is to be there on grand final day, just to get there is something worthy and then anything can happen on the day.

"Its one of those seasons where it's been a bit rocky but we've won the big games, we've been ugly at times but really good at other times, it's a matter of getting the percentages right in finals.

"We can play some exciting footy when we need to but we have to do that for 80 minutes now. You don't defend premiership, you attack them.

"I'm really proud of how we've come through this season and got the results we needed. The guys are really excited and deserve to be there."

"We play a similar style to Tuggeranong which makes for a very open but even contest. We match up well and have the same kind of philosophy with both sides willing to have a go."

The combined scores in their three clashes this season puts the Vikings ahead 80-72, but Royals lead the win tally 2-1.

Tuggeranong coach Nick Scrivener doesn't believe home grand advantage will be a factor and said he's expecting another close contest.

"They've been really tight games with Royals all season and I don't think this week will be any different," Scrivener said.

"Royals have played at Viking Park a lot, they've won premierships there, we've played them three times this year and they beat us at Vikings Park, so it's not a massive advantage.

"Vikings lost in the finals last year and were happy this year to be finish on top. I've been really impressed with our young guys who have stepped up.

"They may not have started every game but guys like Noah Lolesio, Lukey Gersekowski and Angus Wager, while Brendon Taueki has come back from league and picked up where he left off."

There will be six ACT Brumbies players in action on Saturday, with Ryan Lonergan, Jordan Jackson-Hope and Darcy Swain lining up for the Vikings. Sam Carter, Andy Muirhead and Lausi will feature for the Royals.

Flankers Tom Cusack (Royals) and Ben Hyne (Vikings) are under injury clouds, while Royals prop Faalelei Sionie has picked up a New Zealand provincial contract with the Manawatu Turbos.

Uni-Norths Owls will face the Gungahlin Eagles in the minor semi-final at Viking Park on Sunday.


Saturday: Tuggeranong Vikings v Royals at Viking Park, 3:25pm.

Sunday: Uni-North Owls v Gungahlin Eagles at Viking Park, 3:15pm.

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