Club Corner is back once again to discuss the upcoming matches in clubland this weekend.
Following an exciting round last week that saw leaders put forward their credentials, this week sees the challenges continue as regular seasons near the halfway point across much of clubland. The battle of attrition now begins, as does the planning for finals.
SHUTE SHIELD - ROUND EIGHT
From top to bottom, no one can argue that this season has been one of the most competitive in the Shute Shield for a while. With only six points separating first from sixth and even the currently low ranked teams like Souths and West Harbour regularly standing up and challenging ladder leaders, it makes for extremely entertaining footy.
With one round to go until we hit the halfway mark of regular season, most matchups this weekend loom as too tight to call. Randwick will host Warringah, Eastwood return to TG Milner to welcome the Two Blues, and the much improved Hunter Wildfires will look to build off their win against the Marlins last week when they host Eastern Suburbs.
Match of the Round – Manly v Gordon
The northern suburbs clashes have been enthralling to watch so far this season, and it continues as the Stags travel to Manly Oval. The Marlins went down in a thriller in Newcastle last week, and despite the competitiveness, rued lost opportunities and arguably underestimated the Wildfires. With that comes an opportunity to make amends, and this team has been showing already how well they can bounce back.
Gordon on the other hand have been in very mixed form, currently just outside the top of the ladder but showing they still have the firepower to challenge for the title as they went down by one point in the Battle of the North. Despite the result, it was an improved performance and something that can be built on for this weekend.
Randwick v Warringah
Norths v West Harbour
Sydney Uni v Souths
Eastwood v Two Blues
Hunter Wildfires v Eastern Suburbs
Sydney University backrower Clem Halaholo made his debut for the Students in their win against Northern Suburbs a fortnight ago, and it has to be said, he impressed. While he’s only early into his Shute Shield career and is only eighteen years of age, his physicality was impressive and he looks to be knocking on the door for a starting place in first grade very soon!
QUEENSLAND PREMIER GRADE - ROUND FIVE
The Hospital Challenge Cup kicks back into gear this week after three of four games last round were rescheduled due to the excessive storms in Brisbane. It didn’t, however, stop an enthralling game between Wests and Bond Uni, with the Bulldogs putting in a solid performance to get their season back on track.
This week, the Bulldogs head away from home to face Sunnybank, Norths welcome Bond Uni, and Souths look to get their first win of the season when they play Easts.
Match of the Round – UQ v Brothers
A derby match that looms as a potential finals contender, this weekend sees Brothers and the Red Heavies do battle for the top of the ladder. UQ will up for this match at home, as a win here would likely push them out to a strong lead, with only Wests still in contention (and even then, UQ have one game in hand over them). Brothers will fancy their chances though, coming off a big win over Norths and a strong away win over Wests. All bets are off when the whistle blows.
Sunnybank v Wests
Norths v Bond Uni
Souths v Easts
GPS - BYE
While in a losing side over the weekend, Dan Boardman had a terrific match in the Centres for Bond University, slipping into the team of the week for Queensland Premier Rugby. A commanding attacking weapon, his aggressive approach kept Bond University in touch for most of the match, and should the tide start to turn and the Bull Sharks start winning, he’ll likely be a vital reason as to why they push their title credentials.
FORTESCUE PREMIER GRADE - ROUND SEVEN
The halfway mark of the season has hit the West, and with only five points separating sixth from eleventh, the competition is truly wide open. Perth Bayswater, Southern Lions and Wanneroo have been the big improvers this season, but despite going down last week Nedlands still look to be the pace setters, showing a lethal attacking style.
This weekend however they will enjoy the bye, and with teams like Cottesloe and Associates keen to make up ground, now is a perfect opportunity for some big surprise wins. Southern Lions will host Wests Scarborough, Associates will welcome Rockingham, and Cottesloe head to face Brothers.
Match of the Round – UWA v Palmyra
The Students are once again walking softly and carrying a big stick in 2022, with five wins and a single loss putting them equal with Nedlands on the points board. Having developed a knack for finding ways to win tight games, this ability will come in very handy against Palmyra, who sit down the ladder but will be desperate to close out a win. Given the capability they’ve shown all season, last year's finalists need to make a statement this weekend and they have the cattle to do it.
Associates v Rockingham
ARKS v Wanneroo
Joondalup v Cottesloe
Perth Bayswater v Kalamunda
Southern Lions v Wests Scarborough
Nedlands - BYE
Scott Turnbull was an absolute workhorse for Southern Lions over the weekend, despite their loss. It’s been a year of massive improvement for the entire team, and with Turnbull showing such a strong capability to grind out teams at set piece, it bodes well come the business end of the season.
JOHN I DENT CUP - ROUND FIVE
Canberra Royals have well and truly stamped their authority on the 2022 John I Dent Cup, remaining the only undefeated team after claiming a thrilling win over the Owls. While the rest of the competition are still playing catch up, Queanbeyan, Wests Lions and Tuggeranong are all not far behind, setting up a very exciting run into the midpoint of the season.
The Royals will travel north to face an Eagles side desperate to grab their first win, while Tuggeranong welcomes the Emus down south. The Emus have picked up a few wins in their colts and womens sides this year and are currently sitting well in the lower comps, however first and second grade are still to grab their first wins at premier level.
Match of the Round – Uni-Norths v Queanbeyan
Returning home, the Owls will be out for retribution as they face a Queanbeyan side hot on their tales for second place. The Whites have points to prove of their own this season, after a close loss to the Vikings at home. A win against the Owls would go a long way to achieving that, and they certainly have it in them to spring a surprise.
Tuggeranong v Penrith
Gungahlin v Canberra Royals
Wests Lions - BYE
Pedro Rolando proved to have an incredible performance for the Royals last week, grabbing two critical late tries that turned the game late in the Royals favour. All this from coming off the bench! This weekend, with squads still to be confirmed there is a chance Rolando could make a statement against Gungahlin and mark himself as one of the attacking weapons to watch in the competition.
DEWAR SHIELD - ROUND FOUR
Commentators curse has struck again, as Harlequins have jumped to the top of the ladder following Melbourne Uni’s big win over the Unicorns. The Rams also picked up a strong win over Box Hill, and with Endeavour Hills also picking up a big win, the competition has been blown wide open for this upcoming weekend.
Rivalry round is coming to Melbourne, with many multiple games contenders for the match of the round. Moorabbin will host Endeavour Hills, Footscray host Power House, and Melbourne University welcome Box Hill as they look to build off their big win last week.
Match of the Round – Melbourne v Harlequins
If the Quins want to show they are the real deal, now's the time to do it. Coming into this match still to drop a game, they’ve been hitting the mark well and look ready to have a strong season. However, they face a Unicorns side reeling from last week’s loss and who will be looking to make a strong statement to the rest of the competition.
Moorabbin v Endeavour Hills
Footscray v Power House
Melbourne University v Box Hill
COOPERS PREMIER GRADE - ROUND SEVEN
Elizabth have shown themselves as genuine contenders for the competition this year following a strong performance over Old Collegians in round seven. It was the standout match in a round characterised by big wins, with Onkaparinga, Burnside and Southern Suburbs the main benefactors.
This weekend Brighton will face off against Woodville, Port Adelaide will welcome Barossa, and Onkaparinga host Burnside.
Port Adelaide v Barossa
Southern Suburbs v Old Collegians
Brighton v Woodville
Elizabeth v Adelaide University
Onkaparinga v Burnside
TASMANIAN PREMIER GRADE - ROUND FOUR
Lastly, the Tasmanian Premier Grade has kicked off, with last years finalists Launceston, Devonport, Burnie and Taroona leading the charge. In the opening few weeks though, the University of Tasmania has also had a strong opening round, and may fancy themselves a potential wildcard for the season.
Harlequins v Devonport
Burnie Emus v Launceston
Taroona v Glenorchy
UTAS v Hobart Lions
Be sure to get out and support your local team. Enjoy your club rugby this weekend, and stay safe!