Club Corner: Hospital Challenge Cup Grand Final hype begins, Perth Finals Series commences, Canberra and Melbourne lockdowns extended

Thu, 02/09/2021, 12:59 pm
Nick Wasiliev
by Nick Wasiliev
Hospital Challenge Cup (Queensland) Final - Easts v University (QPR A: Match of the Round)

Club corner is back to preview the upcoming weekend of club footy across the country.

Last weekend saw our first grand final of the season played, with the Devonport Bulls burying their demons from 2020 with a 27-39 win over Launceston to win the Tasmanian Premier Grade. The match capped off a great season of growth across the competition,  with several teams challenging for the title. Capped off by appearances from several classic Wallabies, it was a positive end to the season on the Apple Isle.

This weekend sees mixed news on the clubland front, first with the news that both Canberra and Melbourne’s lockdowns are set to be extended into mid-September. 

In the national capital, the John I Dent Cup only has one regular season round to play before finals, and could be potentially extended back to October, however any opportunities for the season to continue diminish with every lockdown extension, and with several competitions outside of rugby cancelled earlier this week in the ACT the John I Dent Cup risks going the way of the Shute Shield, in having it’s season cancelled for the first time since 1944. 

Things are more concerning for the Dewar Shield in Melbourne, as their lockdown has been extended for at least another three weeks. With several regular season rounds still to be played before finals, Rugby Victoria will likely need to make a call in the coming weeks around if the season will be shortened, or if the competition has to be cancelled for the second year running. 

However, while things are concerning in the south-east of the nation, the rest of the states will enjoy a fantastic selection of club rugby, starting with arguably one of the biggest grand finals of the Australian rugby calendar. 

University flyhalf Scott Gale scoots into open space in the semi-final win over Brothers. Photo: Brendan Hertel, QRU

QUEENSLAND PREMIER GRADE GRAND FINAL - UQ v GPS

The final match of the Queensland club calendar looms large this weekend, as fans are set to flock to Suncorp Stadium to watch UQ take on GPS in what should be a grand final for the ages. Throughout the season, these two teams stood head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, so it was no surprise to see that the final result would come down to them.

UQ come into this game off the back of a closely fought contest Brothers that saw them prevail 29-24, however before then they’d suffered their first loss of season before lockdown, going down to GPS. While some may feel they aren’t riding as high as they were earlier this season, to write off a team that brings Wallabies legend Stephen Moore on from the bench would be a fatal mistake.

GPS meanwhile come into this final on excellent form, having beaten UQ and, last weekend, saw off the big improvers of 2021 in Wests, winning an absolute thriller 41-39. With momentum on their side they will sense an opportunity to snatch the trophy from the Students grasp. However, they’ll be aware that the Red Heavies have the potential to turn on incredible performances as they have been doing all season, so any assumption the game will be a walk in the park will be a fools errand.

All eyes will be on Suncorp Stadium this weekend, for what will be an explosive finale!

Watch every minute of the Hospital Challenge Cup on Stan Sport. Start your Free Sport Trial Now

WA Premier Celebration

FORTESCUE PREMIER GRADE - SEMI FINALS

It’s semi finals time in WA, with the top eight now solidified and all up for grabs. Cottesloe managed to sneak into second place with a bonus point win over Kalamunda, which bumped UWA to third. Meanwhile, a surprise draw between Nedlands and Palmyra has set a cat amongst the pigeons in terms of the rest of the competition, with Wests now facing Wanneroo and Kalamunda taking on Perth Bayswater. 

RUGBY.com.au Match Of The Round:

Nedlands v Palmyra: while the match between the Gulls and Students is set to be the top of the table clash people will be watching, the fact these two are facing each other again this weekend after their thrilling draw looms is a potentially even more exciting thriller. Nedlands finished with a slender lead at the top of the ladder, but the fright they got from Palmyra may give the away team that mental boost to push harder this weekend. It also opens up the potential for the remaining contenders to put their hand up for the silverware, and certainly makes this upcoming finals series much more unpredictable!

Other Quarter Final fixtures:

Cottesloe v UWA

Kalamunda v Perth Bayswater

Wests Scarborough v Wanneroo

COOPERS PREMIER GRADE - ROUND FIFTEEN (CATCH UP ROUND)

Finally, in what might be the last round of regular season club rugby for the year nationwide, the Coopers Premier Grade will play catch up as they redo their round fifteen fixtures. Regardless of the results, thirteen points separate fourth-placed Southern Suburbs and fifth-placed Onkas, meaning this round will not affect the make-up of finals. However, only two points separate Burnside and Brighton for first and second, meaning should Burnside lose to Adelaide Uni, there's a chance Brighton could sweep in and claim the minor premiership at the death. 

Fixtures:

Onkaparinga v Woodville

Adelaide University v Burnside

Port Adelaide v Brighton

Elizabeth v Southern Suburbs

Old Collegians - BYE

Wherever you are this weekend, we hope you enjoy your club footy! We hope everyone stays safe.

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