Club Corner: All the action around the grounds

Hospital Cup
by Nick Wasiliev

Club Corner: Top of the table clashes loom ahead for Shute Shield, Hospital Challenge Cup, John I Dent Cup

Welcome to Club Corner, our weekly series where we preview the upcoming weekend of Australia’s premier club competitions. 

Brisbane - Hospital Challenge Cup Rd. 6

The Hospital Challenge Cup hits the halfway mark this weekend, with Easts and GPS still setting the benchmark at the top of the table. Round five however did see some interesting clashes, including Uni of Queensland demolishing Souths and signalling to the rest of the competition why they are the current title holders, and Bond University also signalling their potential by handing Easts their first loss of the year.

This weekend will see several fixtures that will be difficult to pick, as all teams have looked increasingly able to beat anyone else, any given day of the week. The improvements of teams like Sunnybank and Bond University will make the next couple of rounds especially interesting, will little wiggle room for error. 

Our Match of The Round:  

GPS v University of Queensland - in what is a tough round to pick a match of the round, we’re going with the game that could have the biggest ramifications for the top of the ladder. Easts will be coming up against Norths, and should they lose GPS will take the top of the ladder if they win here. However, The Students look like they have now fully woken up after a slow start to the season, and a win here will put them right back in contention for the minor premiership, and to defending their title. 

Other Fixtures:

Wests v Sunnybank

Easts v Norths

Souths v Bond University

BYE - Brothers

All Hospital Challenge Cup games are live and free on Rugby Xplorer, available on the App Store.

Sydney - Shute Shield Rd. 8

The Shute Shield is a very, very tight race in 2020. Round seven served up a lot of exciting results, and saw Gordon overtake Randwick to lead the ladder for the first time this year. The Stags are the only team to have not dropped a game this year so far, with the Wicks going down against Eastwood this weekend just gone. 

This upcoming round is going to be an absolute belter, with every match serving up potentially critical ramifications for the entire ladder. Southern Districts will need a big win over Eastern Suburbs to stay in touch with the top of the ladder, Northern Suburbs will be taking on an increasingly dangerous Eastwood outfit, and Penrith, who despite not picking up a win have proven a handful this year, will be looking to reclaim bragging rights in the The Battle of the West when they play the Two Blues. 

And that’s before we even get to arguably the biggest rivalry in the entire competition: The Battle of The Beaches between the Rats and the Marlins. Both teams have appeared off the pace this year, but it shouldn’t detract from what will be a brutal encounter in front of a packed crowd at Manly Oval.

Our Match Of The Round:

Randwick v Gordon: Yet, despite all of this there is one fixture that, in the context of the entire season, is critical. 2nd vs 1st. The Stags are looking the best they have in years, showing an excellent amount of cohesion and belief under former Rat and NSW Country Eagles coach, Darren Coleman. The only team that has been one step ahead of them has been the Galloping Greens, and their loss against the Woodies last week saw them lose 1st place. Both sides are also looking to break major droughts this year with their solid form, with Gordon not lifting the trophy since 1998, and Randwick not lifting it since 2004. If both clubs are serious about winning this year, they have to win this weekend. Simple as that. 

Other Fixtures:

Southern Districts v Eastern Suburbs

Northern Suburbs v Eastwood

Manly v Warringah

Sydney University v West Harbour

Penrith v Western Sydney

Hunter - BYE

The Manly-Warringah clash will be live on 7TWO, with coverage starting from 3pm this Saturday. 

Canberra - John I Dent Cup Rd. 7

With three rounds of the regular season to go after this weekend in Canberra, the race for the minor premiership is is likely to one that will go down to the wire! The Owls reclaimed first place after knocking over a daunting Wests by a solitary point in round seven, while the Royals kept their semi-finals hopes alive with a critical win over Tuggeranong at home, opening up a six point buffer between them and 5th placed Gunghalin. 

However, the season is far from over however, with several games likely signalling the final roll of the dice for several teams. Queanbeyan will likely be out of finals contention for good if they lose this weekend against the Vikings, while Gungahlin will also be playing for their season when they host Wests.

Our Match Of The Round:

Uni-Norths v Royals: This weekend will likely see the top four finalised if the Whites and Eagles lose, but in terms of the top of the ladder anything can still happen. The Royals are on the comeback trail with several big wins, but this weekend they’ll be travelling to face the team that beat them at home in round one. Uni-Norths solid run started off the back of this critical win over the Royals, and with them back on top a win here will be critical if they want to win their first ever Cup as Uni-Norths, having not tasted victory since ANU won in 1992. 

Other Fixtures:

Gungahlin v Wests

Queanbeyan v Tuggeranong

Head to the John I Dent Cup Facebook page for their live stream of these matches this weekend, kicking off at 3pm. 

Perth - WA Premier Grade Rd. 10

Round ten of the Fortescue Premier Grade is upon the rugby loving people of Perth, with Cottlesloe and Associates currently in a two way race for the top of the table. While the Gulls are still to drop a game, Associates’ bonus point win over Nedlands has seen the gap between the two teams close to just three points.

Wests Scarborough has also jumped up the ladder with several wins, and with a traffic jam of teams competing for the remaining finals positions, this next three rounds of competition will likely still serve plenty of upsets. This weekend will see several big matches, including Joondalup against Wests Scarborough, and UWA playing Nedlands.

Our Match of The Round:  

Kalamunda v Wanneroo - in the context of this season, this match looms as a surprising cut-off for many teams in the lower ladder and top eight. Kalamunda are currently six points off finals contention, and should they lose against Wanneroo they will likely see their season go up in smoke. For Wanneroo, a win will not only put the wind in their sails for the final run, but also consign all other teams below Kalamunda to the bottom of the ladder. Following up their win over Joondalup this week, this is a match they’ll want to win.

Other Fixtures:

Coastal Cavaliers v ARKs

Cottesloe v Perth Bayswater

UWA v Nedlands

Southern Lions v Palmyra

Curtin Uni v Associates

Joondalup v Wests Scarborough

You can watch the selected match of the round over at wa.rugby

Adelaide - Coopers Premier Grade Rd. 11

Could anyone stop Brighton? Turns out, yes! Last year's title holders Burnside pulled off a big win by knocking over Brighton 32-19 in round ten, which coupled with big wins to second placed Old Collegians and third placed Onkaparinga opens up the ladder of the Coopers Premier Grade considerably. With the top four now looking set (with Burnside making up fourth place), the remaining weeks will now see a clash for who gets the home finals. 

Fixtures:

Onkaparinga v Barossa

Brighton v Port Adelaide

Old Collegians v Woodville

Burnside v Elizabeth

Southern Suburbs v Adelaide University

All Coopers Premier Grade games can be watched live and free on Rugby Xplorer, available on the App Store.

Tasmania - Premier Grade Rd. 7

Finally, the business end of the Tasmanian season is upon us, with Devonport still the current leaders. While Taroona pulled off an impressive win last week, the title still looks firmly in the Bulls’ court, with them not dropping a game and showing up every other team currently in the competition. Another big win here will see them push out to an even bigger lead on the table, and push them one step closer to the minor premiership

Fixtures:

University of Tasmania v Hobart Lions

Devonport v Harlequins

Taroona v Glenorchy

We hope you enjoy your club rugby this weekend, wherever you are! 

Unfortunately, VIC Rugby is still currently postponed. We hope everyone in Victoria is staying safe.