Club Corner: Club season hits the halfway mark

· Hospital Cup
by Nick Wasiliev

Originally published on RUGBY.com.au

Welcome to Club Corner, our weekly series where we preview the upcoming weekend of Australia’s premier club competitions. Most seasons hit the halfway mark this week, with many critical clashes set to take place over the weekend!


Brisbane - Hospital Challenge Cup Rd. 5


The Hospital Challenge Cup inches closer to the halfway point of the season, and the gap especially tight between 1st and 5th. Easts remain the only undefeated team, having picked several big scalps in the past fortnight with wins over GPS and University of Queensland. 

 

Round five sees a chance for several teams lower in the ladder to gain some ground. Sunnybank have shown particular growth in the last few weeks, picking up wins against Souths and nearly knocking over Uni. 


Our Match of The Round:  

University of Queensland v Souths - one of the most fierce rivalries in the Hospital Challenge Cup, both teams come into this match desperate for wins. The current premiers have been strongly tested in the opening half of the competition, especially in the last fortnight. Souths meanwhile are coming off the bye, and will be looking to jump start their season after their close loss to Sunnybank. The likely winner of this match will move into the top four, the loser will likely have to take the more difficult route to make finals. 


Other Fixtures:

Bond University v Easts

Wests v Brothers

GPS v Sunnybank

BYE – Norths


You can watch these games live on Rugby Xplorer and is available to download on the App Store.


Sydney - Shute Shield Rd. 7


The Shute Shield his the halfway mark this weekend, with several telling clashes over the previous weekend serving as a key indicator of who the major challengers for this year will be. 


No stronger statement was made than the Wicks, who after a dream start to the season brushed aside Southern Districts with ease, proving they will be a real contender for this year. Gordon also continued their excellent streak, while Eastern Suburbs picked up a valuable win over Northern Suburbs to put themselves back in the finals picture.


Gordon continues to look dangerous with a commanding win over Manly, while Randwick and Northern Suburbs also picked up big wins. This weekend just gone however saw the arrival of Southern Districts as title contenders as well, with a come from behind win over Sydney University away from home a warning shot to the rest of the competition. 


This weekend will see the Students have a bye, and an opportunity for the chasing pack in Eastwood, Southern Districts and Northern Suburbs to make up ground and challenge for the top four.


Our Match Of The Round:

Randwick v Eastwood: Yes, the Wicks are the real deal. Having had a dream run to kick off the first five rounds, the Galloping Greens came up against the team that knocked over last year's winners, and eviscerated them convincingly. With confidence high, they’ll likely be favourites going into this match against the Woodies. Eastwood have had a very inconsistent start to the season, having struggled to put away weaker teams on multiple occasions. Yet, they have also managed some strong away wins, notably against Eastern Suburbs, so if they turn up they will be a strong contender for this game. 


Other Fixtures:

Hunter v Eastern Suburbs

West Harbour v Gordon

Penrith v Manly

Northern Suburbs v Western Sydney

Warringah v Southern Districts

Sydney Universty - BYE


The Randwick-Eastwood clash will be live on 7TWO, with coverage starting from 3pm this Saturday.


Canberra - John I Dent Cup Rd. 6


A critical round is emerging in the John I Dent Cup in Canberra. With only four rounds to go after this, the Tuggeranong’s victory over Uni-Norths has opened up the ladder considerably, with even the cellar dwellers still a chance of making finals. 


With that comes several critical clashes this weekend, with two teams, should they win on the weekend, having the chance to snatch first place from Uni-Norths. The biggest rivalry in the capital will continue this weekend, with Royals hosting Tuggeranong yet again. Both teams look to have hit their stride with several important wins over the last fortnight, and for both, this match will serve as a vital game to win. The Royals will especially need it, because if the Eagles prevail over Queanbeyan they may likely lose their finals position.


However, while it would be easy to pick this game as our match of the round, we’ll be focusing on...


Our Match Of The Round:

Wests v Uni-Norths: Wests are looking good. Really, really good. Currently sitting in third place, in the last three rounds they dispatched Queanbeyan, and knocked over both the Vikings at home and the Royals away from home. The last match they lost, in fact, was against Uni-Norths. The Owls still sit in first place on the ladder, despite falling to Tuggeranong last round, but a loss here would see them lose that position. They NEED to win here to keep their position. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We’ll find out this weekend. 


Other Fixtures:


Queanbeyan v Gungahlin 

Canberra Royals v Tuggeranong


Head to the John I Dent Cup Facebook page for their live stream of these matches this weekend, kicking off at 3pm. 


Perth - WA Premier Grade Rd. 9


The Fortescue Premier Grade enters the business end of the season, and after a pileup at the top of the ladder early in the season, Cottlesloe have knocked over all current challengers and remain the only team unbeaten, albeit by a small margin. 


Round eight saw several surprising results, including Wanneroo taking Perth Bayswater to the cleaners and Joondalup falling to Palmyra away from home. 


This weekend will be the last potential roll of the dice for several teams to make finals, as well as several top of the table clashes. Kalamunda, UWA, Wanneroo, Southern Lions and Perth Bayswater are all still mathematically a chance of making it, but they can’t afford to drop any more games. 


Our Match of The Round:  

Associates v Nedlands - a favourite derby in the Wests rugby calendar, both teams come into this match in good form. Associates are currently in second place, and should Cottlesloe drop a match, would be looking to snatch the minor premier position. However, this means they can’t afford to drop a game (especially with the Gulls facing cellar dwellers Curtin Uni) and considering they’re up against fourth place in Nedlands this weekend, they’ll look to keep it that way. The visitors have had a inconsistent run lately, with losses to Perth Bayswater and Joondalup, and a draw against Wanneroo in the past month. While they finally got back in the winners circle last week against Curtin Uni, a win here would still be critical if they want to be serious contenders this year. 


Other Fixtures:


Perth Bayswater v Coastal Cavaliers

Wanneroo v Joondalup

ARKs v UWA

Palmyra v Kalamunda

Wests Scarborough v Southern Lions

Curtin Uni v Cottesloe


You can watch the selected match of the round over at wa.rugby


Adelaide - Coopers Premier Grade Rd. 10


We near the home stretch of the competition in Adelaide this weekend, with only four rounds to go until finals. Brighton have opened up a commanding lead at the top of the ladder, while the race for the other finals positions have heated up with Port Adelaide showing their credentials last week. The weekend will see several top of the table clashes, and no clash would be more significant than Burnside v Brighton. Brighton win, and the minor premiership is likely theirs to lose. Burnside win, and this competition gets a lot more interesting. 


Fixtures:


Onkaparinga v Adelaide University 

Woodville v Elizabeth

Barossa v Southern Suburbs

Burnside v Brighton

Port Adelaide v Old Collegians


You can watch a live stream of a selected match of the round on on Rugby Xplorer and is available to download on the App Store.


Tasmania - Premier Grade Rd. 6


Last week we asked the question if anyone can stop Devonport? Last week, they knocked over second placed Taroona to open up a seven point lead at the top of the ladder, going into the second half of the season. Based on current form, the season is the Bulls to lose, unless the likes of Taroona and Glenorchy can start to challenge with some big wins. 


Fixtures:

Glenorchy v Harlequins 

Devonport v Hobart Lions

University of Tasmania v Taroona


In addition to the online spaces highlighted, selected matches of the round can also be enjoyed by downloading Rugby.com.au’s Rugby Xplorer app. 


We hope you enjoy your club rugby this weekend, wherever you are! 


Unfortunately, VIC Rugby is still currently postponed. We hope everyone in Victoria is staying safe.

This article was originally published on RUGBY.com.au.

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