Club Corner is back once again to discuss the upcoming matches in clubland this weekend.
With rain expected to lash the east coast from Friday, club rugby in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra is expected to be a battle of who can master the conditions best. Melbourne is expected to miss most of the rain, while the West will have perfect conditions for clubland and the first international test of the year.
SHUTE SHIELD - ROUND THIRTEEN
Round Twelve saw statements made and challenges through down, with big wins to Norths, the Two Blues, Warringah and Gordon. The biggest upset of the weekend though came from the Wildfires, who won a thriller in Newcastle against Sydney Uni. Manly hold a slender lead despite the loss, but the traffic is piling up behind them, with all teams still a chance of making finals.
This weekend, Eastwood will welcome the Hunter Wildfires to TG Milner, Randwick takes on a resurgent Gordon, while West Harbour have a tough assignment to stay in the race when they face Norths.
Match of the Round – Two Blues v Warringah
There are so many matches to pick for as potential games of the round, but for us the clash at Eric Tweedle Stadium will be a mouthwatering clash. The Two Blues have been like a team possessed since moving to their new home, showing huge growth this year and some big scalps to show for it. They come against a similarly balanced Warringah, who have been walking softly this season compared to Manly, Eastwood and Sydney Uni, but are looking dangerous sitting in fourth place.
Randwick v Gordon
Manly v Souths
Sydney Uni v Eastern Suburbs
Eastwood v Hunter Wildfires
West Harbour v Norths
Hooker James Margan will notch up his 50th game this weekend for Norths, and it caps off a solid period for form for the Shoreman at set piece. His growth this year has been a clear factor as to why Norths are looking so dangerous, and expect him to make much more of an impression come finals!
QUEENSLAND PREMIER GRADE - ROUND ELEVEN
Let’s call it what it was: round ten was one of the most insane rounds Queensland rugby has seen in a long time! Wests jumped up to a strong lead on the ladder, proving they are serious contenders as they handed UQ their third loss in a row in convincing fashion. Brothers and Easts also picked up valuable wins, and even Souths and Norths put on a thrilling match down at Souths Rugby Club.
A solid top six has started to emerge off the back of this round, and the race is on to determine who will fill those final places. This weekend Bond Uni come up against a resurgent Sunnybank, UQ will look to reclaim the wind in their sails against Norths, and Easts look to keep up their form against GPS.
Match of the Round – Brothers v Wests
In terms of sheer drama, this fixture couldn’t have come at a better time for Brisbane rugby fans! Second hosts first in a critical fixture for both teams. Wests currently hold a five point lead over Brothers, but with the hosts currently holding a one game advantage over the Bulldogs, should they win here they will be at a distinct advantage to take the top of the ladder later in the season. For both teams, it’s a critical fixture.
Easts v GPS
Norths v UQ
Bond University v Sunnybank
Souths - BYE
Harry Higgins put in a workhorse display for Wests in their win over UQ this weekend. His work rate at flanker has been nothing short of impressive, and with the fixture this weekend against Brothers expect him to cause plenty of trouble for the hosts, should he continue his form!
FORTESCUE PREMIER GRADE - ROUND TWELVE
The penultimate round of the regular season is upon us in Perth, and with only two rounds left till the competition splits, the tussle for finals placings comes down to either now or never. Round Eleven saw several bombastic clashes, with Cottesloe, Joondalup and Kalamunda all sneaking home with thrilling wins. The biggest shock saw Associates down UWA, opening up a potential opportunity for Nedlands to claim the minor premiership.
This weekend, Southern Lions play once again for their season, hanging only three points behind eighth placed Palmyra when they face Associates. Palmyra have a tough assignment of their own, travelling away to face Wests Scarborough.
Match of the Round – Cottesloe v Nedlands
The Seagulls make the match of the round again this week, having snuck home by just three points against the Southern Lions. With a home final beckoning, they come up against a side who has an opportunity to claim the minor premiership in Nedlands. The equation is simple for them, win like crazy! Should UWA falter again this weekend, a win here would set up a grandstand finish in the final round next week, with the minor premiership on the line!
Kalamunda v Rockingham
Wests Scarborough v Palmyra
ARKs v UWA
Perth Bayswater v Joondalup
Southern Lions v Associates
Wanneroo - BYE
Max Sawers put in a strong performance at flanker for Kalamunda in their critical win over Wanneroo over the weekend, as the Bulls look to try and finish the regular season with a wet sail. With a big performance expected this weekend against Rockingham, expect Max to really make a statement and push for his case to go onto higher honours in the west.
JOHN I DENT CUP - ROUND TEN
Last week saw a reduced round in Canberra, with only two matches taking place. However, despite this it was a round of major surprises, as Wests upset Queanbeyan at home, before Uni-Norths put on a commanding display, putting seventy on Gungahlin.
This weekend the other four teams will do battle, with Wests travelling up to Nepean Park to play Penrith, and hopefully keep their season alive, while the Emus search for that elusive first grade win.
Match of the Round – Tuggeranong Vikings v Canberra Royals
The other match of the round sees arguably the biggest derby on the capital rugby calendar, as the Royals make the journey south to take on the Vikings. With first place up for grabs by the decider of this match, both teams will be raring to make a game of it. With forecast for rain, expect an old school game of attrition!
Penrith Emus v Wests Lions
Tuggeranong Vikings v Canberra Royals
DEWAR SHIELD - ROUND NINE
Melbourne Unicorns continue to claw their way back, their win against a spirited Hills outfit highlighting a wonderful weekend of competitive rugby in Burn City. Moorabbin, Harlequins and Power House all picked up wins against strong competition from Footscray, Melbourne Uni and Box Hill respectively.
This weekend, Footscray look to capitalise on their recent improved form, playing against the Unicorns, Harlequins travel to face Box Hill, and Melbourne Uni welcome the Rams.
Match of the Round – Power House v Endeavour Hills
Fifth hosts fourth in a critical game for both sides in the context of their seasons. Both sides have been looking for form throughout the year, and with finals looming large a chance to consolidate or steal a top four placing won’t be lost on both sides!
Box Hill v Harlequins
Footscray v Melbourne
Melbourne University v Moorabbin
COOPERS PREMIER GRADE - ROUND TWELVE
This weekend Brighton hosts Burnside in a thriller that will likely determine who finishes top of the ladder in the regular season, Elizabeth welcomes Southern Suburbs, Onkaparinga welcomes Old Collegians and Barossa play Woodville
Barossa v Woodville
Port Adelaide v Adelaide University
Brighton v Burnside
Elizabeth v Southern Suburbs
Onkaparinga v Old Collegians
TASMANIAN PREMIER GRADE - ROUND EIGHT
Launceston and Devonport finally meet this weekend in a match that will likely determine who finishes top of the pecking order. In other games this weekend Taroona face Burnie Emus, and Harlequins take on UTAS.
Harlequins v UTAS
Hobart Lions v Glenorchy
Burnie Emus v Taroona Penguins
Launceston v Devonport
Enjoy your weekend, and be sure to get out to clubland and support your local club.