Vikings snatch John I Dent Cup final

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by Beth Newman

The VIkings have overcome 2015 grand final heartbreak, snatching back the John I Dent Cup with a 26-22 win over Queanbeyan.

After losing last year’s decider after the 80 minutes had ticked over, Tuggeranong had to survive another thriller this time around, with their defence hanging tough under immense pressure.

In an emotional week, there was plenty of motivation for the Vikings, who were all thinking of club hero Christian Lealiifano, after his recent leukaemia diagnosis.

Lealiifano wasn’t entirely absent from the match, lending his boots to teammate Dean Oakman-Hunt for the decider, which gave Tuggeranong their sixth win in eight consecutive grand finals.

Jordan Jackson-Hope was man of the match. Photo: Michael DanielA tense forward battle characterised the intensity of the match and it was a Queanbeyan scrum that looked set to decide the game, as the Whites were handed penalties just shy of their line, trailing by four points.

Queanbeyan had the opening try of the match just minutes into the final, with OJ Noa going over after pressure from their forward pack.

Jordan Jackson-Hope replied almost immediately for the Vikings, the start of a man of the match performance from the Brumbies youngster, evading defenders and finishing off some smart attacking play from Jake Knight, to level things up.

A Tuggeranong rolling maul put the Vikings up by seven before a Queanbeyan penalty narrowed the margin to just four points 10 minutes left in the half..

VIkings halfback Joe Powell was handed a yellow-card for a high tackle in the final minute of the opening half, leaving Tuggeranong a man down and the Whites took advantage, takign a three-point lead into the break.

Brumbies veteran Andrew Smith crossed in the 52nd minute to hand the Whites all the momentum as the second half progressed.

The Vikings wouldn’t lay down though, as fullback Ernest Suavai hit back, finishing off a slick Joe Powell pass to score in the corner and whittle the gap to just three points.

Tuggeranong continued the see-sawing match, opting to go for a lineout with a 64th minute penalty, scoring and snatching back the lead, ahead by four points.

Powell said post-match that the match would go down as one of his most memorable.

“We were a bit nervous, thought it was going to be back-to-back losses for a second there but we dug deep and as you could see, everyone was up for it.

“That’ll be one of the most memorable, it’s probably the most we’ve been up against it in any one we’ve won.”

Queanbeyan captain Dan Penca was optimistic about the club' future, with plenty of talent among the side.

"Hopefully we can build on this," he said.

"There's a good group of players and they're all quite young.

"Fingers crossed they can stick together and build a strong culture in the years to come."

The Royals took out the women’s final earlier in the day.

Tuggeranong 26

Queanbeyan 22