Club Corner: Finals Footy comes to a head in Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney

Hospital Cup
by Nick Wasiliev

Welcome to Club Corner, our weekly series where we preview the upcoming weekend of Australia’s premier club competitions. With the season now wrapped up in three states, the Coopers Premier Grade faces it’s grand final this weekend, while preliminary finals and semi-finals are upon us in Brisbane and Sydney.

Canberra - John I Dent Cup Grand Final Review

Starting off with a round up of the wins last week, the grand final of the John I Dent Cup at Viking Park served up a match that summed up the quality of the season. All teams this year in the Canberra Premier Competition should be commended for the level of competitiveness, as it served some truly scintillating and unpredictable rounds of rugby.

There could only be one winner, however, at that winner was last year’s grand finalists, that Canberra Royals, who have back-to-back for the first time since 1991, prevailing in a 32-22 thriller over a strong Gungahlin outfit who fought right to the very end.

Coach Wayne Southwell admitted that the Brumbies returning to clubland made a big impact, however even then the young guns in the Royals team also put in excellent performances, with Pedro Rolando having a solid say with the boot. The Eagles chased the game for most of the match, and while they should be commended, in the end they left their run too late in the game.

 

 

It’s a disappointing end, but the men from Canberra’s north can hold their heads high: the quality of rugby they have showcased this season has been absolutely outstanding, and with if they maintain their current trajectory, they will be coming from the grand final as victors sooner rather than later.

The win was capped off by another victory, as the Royals Premier Womens’ team also won their competition in a thriller, beating the Uni-Norths Owls Womens’ team 15-12.

Tasmania - Premier Grade Grand Final Review

The Tasmania Grade wrapped up this weekend as well, and for Devonport, this will be the one that got away. Looking to go back-to-back for the first time ever in their history, unfortunately it was not to be as Taroona finally got their revenge, winning 38-15 on grand final day to hand the Bulls their first (and only) loss of the season, claiming the Tasmania Premier Grade trophy.

The Penguins were bolstered by a solid effort from the kicking tee by Edward Satler, with their big men setting a solid platform to get the team home. Devonport will look ahead to 2021, and hope to exact some sweet revenge come next season.

They certainly have the team to win more trophies! It caps off what has been a solid season of footy down in the Island state.

Brisbane - Hospital Challenge Cup Preliminary Final Preview

Now, onto upcoming games! Last weekend just saw several big results, with Easts losing a critical match away from home to current premiers University of Queensland, 19-37.

Bond University, meanwhile, maintained their fantastic momentum by knocking GPS out of contention, prevailing in an outstanding game 32-27.

READ MORE: Bond boys the real deal in toppling GPS

Bond Uni will now face Easts at home, as they battle it out to decide who will face University of Queensland in the Grand Final. While Easts have home ground advantage, Bond University look to be peaking at the right time, having knocked off University of Queensland and Easts during their regular season, and they have won in six of their last seven matches.

Easts have been at the top of the ladder all year, but they’ll need to pull out all the stops if they want to prevail. Whoever wins, it’ll be a tough match next week. University of Queensland in eight of the last eleven grand finals, winning five of them.

However, if they win next week they’ll go back-to-back for the first time in thirty years, so plenty of history is on the line for them next weekend.

READ MORE: Remarkable comeback after stroke at 18

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

Sydney - Shute Shield Semi-Final Preview

And then, there were four. Last year’s winners Sydney University and Randwick were the casualties of last week’s competition, leaving Gordon, Norths, Eastern Suburbs and Eastwood remaining. The preliminaries were a particularly close affair, with Gordon prevailing by a solitary point over the Galloping Greens and Norths prevailing by only two points over the Students.

Saturday will see the first semi-final play out, with Gordon hosting Eastern Suburbs. The Beasties have been very surprising, sneaking in at the back end of the season, and they should be commended for making it so deep into finals contention.

They are staring down the barrel of history, with a win this weekend setting them up for their first grand final appearance since 2007, and if they win the final, they would break a drought stretching all the way back to 1969.

However, they have to get through the minor premiers first. Gordon are looking to make history of their own, having not won the Shield since 1998.

READ MORE: Gordon find Abel replacement at hooker for semi-final

Aside from one loss at home to Norths, they’ve been playing like men possessed under Darren Coleman. However, to write off this Beasties team would be a disaster, so expect a quality game this coming weekend.

The other semi final on Sunday see’s two sides that have had a lot more success in recent years. Norths will be hosting a strong Eastwood outfit, with the Shoreman looking to get to their first final since their loss in 2017 to the Rats, while the Woodies are desperate to get back to winning ways and make their first final since their last Shield victory in 2015.

 

 

READ MORE: Eastwood stalwart to retire with a bang

Plenty is on the line for both sides, and the stage is set for a thriller.

The Northern Suburbs - Eastwood clash will be live on 7TWO, with coverage starting from 3pm this Sunday.

Adelaide - Coopers Premier Grade Grand Final Preview

Finally, Adelaide sees it’s final weekend of rugby for the year, with grand finals a plenty to be played out across the city.

It’s been a huge year for the code in the Garden State, with Adelaide University introducing the first Gay and Inclusive team to the competition – the Adelaide Sharks, and all teams enjoying some form of success, both on the field and off it.

All of it comes to a head this weekend however, as we sit gear up for the match that will decide the Premier Grade winner!

Brighton have been the team to beat this year.

READ MORE: Stellar season for SA Rugby with Grand Final cherry on the top

Looking to reclaim their stranglehold on the trophy in recent years and win the trophy back for the first time since 2018, they’ll have their work cut out against Old Collegians, who smashed last year’s grand final winners Burnside 42-17 in last week’s preliminary final.

Of all the teams in the competition Collegians have come the closest to putting Brighton away, which sets this weekend up for an appropriately suitable nailbiter of a clash.