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Club Corner: Surprises aplenty as club season sets in

Thu, 12/05/2022, 11:58 pm
Nick Wasiliev
by Nick Wasiliev

Club Corner is back once again to discuss the upcoming matches in clubland this weekend. 

With the club season in full swing across all mainland cities, teams will now start focusing on building consistency and setting up their finals run as the regular season heads towards the halfway point. However, with multiple surprises aplenty over the last few weeks, it’s anyone’s guess as to which teams will make up the top of the tables come finals. 

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Short makes a break against West Harbour in Round One. Photo: RicMac

SHUTE SHIELD - ROUND SEVEN

It’s almost insane to think that we are already approaching the halfway mark of the regular season in Sydney, but that goes to show how investing this competition has been this year. Manly and Eastwood currently are setting the pace, however teams like the Two Blues and the Hunter Wildfires have also picked up several wins back-to-back, and are in striking distance of potentially securing finals placings. 

This weekend Easts face Sydney University in Woollhara, Warringah take on an in-form Two Blues side, and Hunter Wildfires welcome current ladder leaders Manly to Newcastle. 

Match of the Round – Gordon vs Norths

One of THE rivalries of the Shute Shield continues this weekend in the battle of the North, as the Shoreman and the Stags do battle in Chatswood. Despite coming into the competition as heavyweights, both sides have struggled for consistency throughout the season, with surprise losses aplenty. The goal is simple for both teams: win at all cost. Form is needed for both sides, and where better to start than in a critical derby grudge match!

Other Fixtures

Souths v Randwick

Eastern Suburbs v Sydney Uni

Warringah v Two Blues

Eastwood v West Harbour

Hunter Wildfires v Manly

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Rising Player

An absolute snatch for the men from Newcastle, Connor Winchester has come into his own at flyhalf this season since making the move from Norths. A skilled director of a powerful backline, his utility experience has definitely given the Wildfires a much needed edge, and with finals contention now in the picture, he’ll become even more critical as the season nears the halfway point. 

Rebels squad flyhalf Carter Gordon puts Wests on attack against Brothers on Saturday at Crosby Park. Photo: Brendan Hertel

QUEENSLAND PREMIER GRADE - ROUND FOUR

Bond University and Brothers were the big winners last round in Brisbane, with the Bul Sharks making an especially strong statement with their win over last year’s finalists. UQ and Bond Uni remain the only undefeated teams in the comp so far following their win over Souths, however Brothers, GPS and Bond are already making it clear they are up for the challenge of ending UQ’s solid run at the top.

This weekend, wet weather has thrown several games into chaos, with GPS-Sunnybank and Brothers-Souths delayed due to wet weather. However, several games are still set to go ahead, as of time of writing. 

Match of the Round – Wests v Bond University

While Bond Uni win turned heads, it was easy for forget the Bulldogs put together a strong performance against Easts last weekend. It was the kick start they needed after losing the opening two games, and they find themselves against Bond Uni, who are once again starting their season in flying fashion. Wests didn’t get to the semi-final last year by accident, but they will have to show they can back it up with a win here, while Bond University will need to start putting games like this away if they want to get their hands on that maiden premiership.

Other Fixtures

Easts v Norths

Brothers v Souths (POSTPONED)

GPS v Sunnybank (POSTPONED)

UQ - BYE

Rising Player

Brothers flanker Nick Cross has been a standout forward in the opening weeks of the competition, making a nuisance of himself in general play and at set piece. Playing a key role  in Brothers win over Norths, Crossy is likely going to prove invaluable over the coming rounds as Brothers start to come up against some of the stronger contenders in the competition.

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Despite the scoreline the Championship Division final was one of the most physical matchups of the season. Photo: Gordan Pettigrew/True Spirit Photos

FORTESCUE PREMIER GRADE - ROUND SIX

Extremely close affairs and massive blowouts proved the order of the day last week in WA. Nedlands remain the only undefeated side in the competition, but their win over Southern Lions proved to be one of the most enthralling of the round. Associates also grabbed a vital win over Wanneroo, as did UWA over Wests Scarborough. Kalamunda, Cottesloe and Palmyra all picked up big wins.

This weekend, with the Gulls enjoying the bye, Associates will look to build on last week’s win as they face Palmyra, UWA hosts Wanneroo, and Nedlands will look to go six on the trot when they host Perth Bayswater. 

Match of the Round – Southern Lions v Kalamunda 

The two big improvers this season go head-to-head this weekend, and while both have more losses than wins you cannot deny the improvement both sides are showing. The Lions went down by only two points to Nedlands, and with a string of close performances it’s becoming more a case of WHEN they’ll get on a roll, not if. Kalamunda meanwhile have really started to hit their strides in the last fortnight, claiming a big scalp in Associates and dispatching ARKs last week.  

It sets the stage for a thriller this weekend, which will be a big plus for WA clubland!

Other Fixtures

Associates v Palmyra

Wests Scarborough v ARKs

UWA v Wanneroo

Joondalup v Rockingham

Nedlands v Perth Bayswater

Cottesloe - BYE

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RISING PLAYER

Joshua Tepania has been an absolute anchor for Kalamunda in the front row so far this season. His work at set piece has proven a major driver in Kalamunda’s recent form, and as they approach the halfway point in the season the Bulls will be hoping he’ll continue to build on form and hopefully get them to another finals berth.

Uni Norths steal the show in round 6 of the John I Dent Cup. Photo: Lachlan Lawson

JOHN I DENT CUP - ROUND FOUR

It’s a good time to be a rugby fan in the capital, as the regular season sets in. Canberra Royals and Uni-Norths are still to drop a game,  while the Queanbeyan Whites have also started in positive fashion, leaping into the top three.

This weekend however, the Whites will host the Tuggeranong Vikings, who will be fresh off the bye. Gungahlin will also look to get back to winning ways when they face Wests Lions.

Match of the Round – Canberra Royals v Uni-Norths

There is denying the importance of this clash this weekend as the two undefeated teams battle for the top of the ladder. The Owls have started the season very strongly, with good wins over Wests and Penrith. However, the Royals look to be much improved from 2021, and with three wins on the trot will be tough to beat at home. 

Other Fixtures

Queanbeyan v Tuggeranong

Gungahlin v Wests

Penrith – BYE

RISING PLAYER

Rory Scott has served the Royals well in the opening three weeks of the competition, including picking up a man of the match performance against the Vikings. He’ll need to back it up with a strong performance this weekend against Uni-Norths, but there is a reason why he’s helped push the Royals to three wins in a row.

Dewar Shield Walk Out

DEWAR SHIELD - ROUND THREE

Can anyone stop the Unicorns? Judging by the opening fortnight, they are emerging as the team to beat with two strong victories. The Rams and Harlequins both are also still to drop a game heading into round three, but with Endeavour Hills, Box Hill and Melbourne Uni all showing strong improvement, it’ll be telling how many teams can maintain that. 

This weekend Endeavour Hills will face Footscray, Melbourne Uni will welcome the Unicorns, and Power House will look to jumpstart their season (pardon the pun) against the Quins.

Match of the Round – Box Hill v Moorabbin

Box Hill went down swinging against Harlequins last week, and while they’ll be disappointed this weekend they have the chance to make amends and get back into the upper half of the ladder. The Rams will likely be wary of the threat Box Hill brings, with them needing to stay in touch with Melbourne any losses here would be critical for the season later down the track. 

Other Fixtures

Footscray v Endeavour Hills

Power House v Harlequins

Melbourne University v Melbourne

Barossa Rams and Burnside players observe a moments silence before the inaugural Kade MacDonald Shield. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley

COOPERS PREMIER GRADE - ROUND SIX

It was another round of contrasts over round five, with Port Adelaide coming close to upsetting Old Collegians, while Onkaparinga grabbed a vital win over Southern Suburbs. In contrast, however Brighton got into triple figures against Adelaide University, while Elizabeth swatted aside the Wasps. 

This weekend, Uni will face a tough assignment in hosting Onkas, Burnside face Port Adelaide, Old Collegians will face Elizabeth in a likely match of the round clash, while Southern Suburbs and Woodville look to bounce back as they go head to head.

Fixtures

Barossa v Brighton

Woodville v Southern Suburbs

Old Collegians v Elizabeth

Adelaide University v Onkaparinga

Burnside v Port Adelaide

Be sure to get out and support your local team. Enjoy your club rugby this weekend, and stay safe!

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