Club Corner: All roads lead to round one

Thu, 08/04/2021, 12:11 pm
Nick Wasiliev
by Nick Wasiliev
Gordon packs down during the Shute Shield. Photo: Karen Watson

The trials are over. Preparations are made. This weekend club rugby returns in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide, and with that comes our first preview of the year.

All competitions will resume with a full length season in 2021, which will come as welcome news to supporters. 

The Hospital Cup will kick off in 2021 with a new broadcast partner | Brendan Hertel
The Hospital Cup will kick off in 2021 with a new broadcast partner | Brendan Hertel

BRISBANE - QUEENSLAND PREMIER GRADE 

Starting in Brisbane, fans of the Queensland Premier Grade are expected to turn out across the city. The competition will also be broadcast on Stan Sport in its entirety, giving fans the perfect opportunity to spend their whole weekend watching rugby. We didn’t think heaven existed, but here we are.

The competition will see several notable clashes to kick off the season, with last years grand finalists Easts hosting last year's wildcards in Sunnybank, Bond University hosting Norths, and GPS looking to kick off their season in style when they host Souths. 

RUGBY.com.au Match Of The Round:

University of Queensland vs Brothers: a favourite fixture the premier grade calendar, both sides will be up for this one. The Red Heavies should be favourites to take the win, having the likes of Scott Gale, Con Foley, Connor Vest and Pat Morrey in their impressive lineup. 

Brothers fell short of missing out on the semi-finals by the slenderest of margins last year, and given the potential of the squad it was a notably disappointing finish. However, if there was any opportunity to make amends, this is it. Wins against UQ at home are tough to come by, but if they pull it off Brothers have the potential to fire a warning shot to the rest of the competition that would hang over the rest of the season. 

Other fixtures:

Bond University v Norths

Easts v Sunnybank

GPS v Souths

Wests - BYE

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Gordon in action during The Australian Club Championship | Brendan Hertel
Gordon in action during The Australian Club Championship | Brendan Hertel

SYDNEY - SHUTE SHIELD 

The other competition set to be broadcast in its entirety this year on Stan Sport, the Shute Shield kicks off this weekend in Sydney with a fantastic selection of opening games that will see many David and Goliath clashes. 

The most interesting of these will be the Sydney Uni clash against the Hunter Wildfires, who were the pick of the new teams last year and who pushed many of the established sides. The Woodies will host the Two Blues, West Harbour will try their luck against the Galloping Greens at Drummoyne Oval, Penrith will have a tough task on their hands when they host Norths, and last years premiers Gordon will travel down Military Road to play the Marlins.

RUGBY.com.au Match Of The Round:

Eastern Suburbs v Southern Districts: the big surprise out of last years competition was the impressive run the Beasties had, finishing as runners up come the end of the regular season. It was unfortunate that their season came to an end with back-to-back losses against eventual grand finalists Gordon and Eastwood, but given they have been able to retain the vast majority of their squad, there is a sense that this year they’ll have plenty of scores to settle. 

The Rebels had a rough run in 2020, being decimated by injury and finishing one win outside the top six. They have picked up some fantastic new talent, including Josh Bokser from New Zealand and Angus Allen from the Brumbies, and have been due for a finals berth and a Shute Shield win for a long time (their last premiership dating all the way back to 1957, when they were St. George). This year they need to play to their potential, and that starts with this game.

Other fixtures:

Sydney University v Hunter Wildfires

Eastwood v Western Sydney

West Harbour v Randwick

Penrith v Northern Suburbs

Manly v Gordon

Warringah - BYE

Palmyra and Kalamunda in action during the FMG Premier Grade
Palmyra and Kalamunda in action during the FMG Premier Grade

PERTH - FORTESCUE PREMIER GRADE

Perth will be rocking this weekend as the FMG Premier Grade returns, as several grudge matches are set to dominate the opening round. Amongst the notable highlights will include a fascinating opening round for Associates against Palmyra, Nedlands hosting Kalamunda, and UWA hosting Brothers.

RUGBY.com.au Match Of The Round:

Cottesloe vs Wests Scarborough: despite these many exciting clashes however, the one that is looking most fascinating is the rematch between last year’s grand final winner and last year's semi-finalist. The Gulls are enjoying a fantastic string of seasons, going back-to-back last year. With much of the talent sticking around, it’s fair to say that this year will see them continue to perform strongly. 

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With that comes challenges however, and Wests, as one of the heavyweight teams of the competition, showed last season that the club is heading towards a positive resurgence in their competitiveness. A win against Cottesloe at Harvey Field would be a massive statement, and is definitely something this Wests team is capable of pulling off.

Other fixtures:

Southern Lions v Wanneroo 

Associates v Palmyra

Curtin University v Perth Bayswater

Nedlands v Kalamunda

UWA v Joondalup

ARKs v Coastal Cavaliers

Woodville RUFC will be looking to improve in 2021. Photo: Pete Garden
Woodville RUFC will be looking to improve in 2021. Photo: Pete Garden

ADELAIDE - COOPERS PREMIER GRADE

Finally, Adelaide will be set to kick off the first round of the Coopers Premier Grade. Several clubs, including the Woodville Wasps and Southern Suburbs, will be looking to challenge the four major clubs in Onkaparinga, Brighton, Burnside and Old Collegians for the finals this year. 

The two major matches that will be exciting to watch this weekend will be Woodville v Old Collegians and Brighton v Burnside. The Wasps would be desperate to get a win over last year’s finalists, and given their improvement over the course of last season such a result would be a massive confidence booster for them. In terms of quality, the match up between last year’s winners and Burnside shapes up to be a real grudge match which may prove significant for both teams later in the season.

All fixtures: 

Woodville v Old Collegians

Onkaparinga v Port Adelaide

Brighton v Burnside

Elizabeth v Adelaide University

Southern Suburbs - BYE

The John I Dent Cup in Canberra and the Dewar Shield in Melbourne will be kicking off on April 17th. Wherever you are this weekend, we hope you enjoy your club footy!

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