Hey Cobbers All,
I hope this missive finds you all pumped, primed and perpendicular to the ground on this fine July Tuesday.
With no matches in the southern Rugby Championship this weekend past to whet the words, I thought to cast my eye about some of the other competitions in our big brown land and see what’s about. I won’t cover everybody today, but just give a enough of an insight to shape any water-cooler chat and point the way towards perhaps what to watch and what to not.
Up in sunny Brisvegas, the Hospital Cup is down to the business end of the season. With a Top4 Finals series commencing 12th August and so the Grand Final being August 26th, only two rounds remain with which to make or break a season. As it stands, Bond sits atop the pile with 12 wins from 14 starts and 59pts. Easts sit 2nd with 11 wins from 15 starts on 57pts but are yet to munch their bye-pie, meaning that 3rd placed Wests with 9 from 14 and 54pts may just swap about with them. The race for 4th spot is between Brothers (48pts) and GPS (45pts) although if calamity truly struck either, Souths may well jag into 4th spot for an otherwise unlikely Finals berth. But frankly, after a pretty impressive season, the Hospital Cup is Bonds to lose.
In Sydney Town, likewise a Top4 finals series will commence 12 August following the final round on 5th August. Unlike Brissy though, there are no byes to negotiate so the table is far easier to read. Currently, after 16 matches played, Norths sits atop the pile with 12 wins from 16 starts for 57pts whereas Randwick is 11 from 16 and also on 57pts. However despite the Wicks having 2 more BP’s than Norths, it’s the Wicks earlier season draw with Manly that means Norths have the better win-count and thus top-dog rating. But that’s hardly conclusive evidence of superiority so their struggle into the finals should be grand viewing. Bonus points are proving a thing with Shuties because despite being 9 from 16, Eastwood hold 3rd spot thanks to 16 BP’s giving them 52pts overall whereas Gordon holds 4th at 10 from 16 but only 11 BP’s to amass 51pts.
What is intriguing in Shute is that both Hunter Wildfires and Manly sit just outside the Top4 on 50pts each and the ever-present Sydney Uni is ‘theoretically thereabouts’ with 47pts. So that table is far from finalised with two weeks to run. For mine, after entering the Shute Shield in 2020, it would be great to see the Wildfires push on into finals and give the Sydney scene a proper shake.
For our Victorian friends, the Dewar Shield is also maintaining the trend with August 5th being the last regular round before a Top4 finals series and a grand final scheduled for 26th August. As it stands, perennial local superpower Quins tops the table with 11 wins from 12 starts for 55pts and Endeavour Hills are 2nd on-table with 10 from 12 on 51pts. A long way behind are Melbourne Unicorns on 7 from 12 for 37pts in 3rd while Footscray are just about level-pegging with their AFL brethren on 4th with 5 from 12 on 34pts. Theoretically, Melbourne Uni on 31pts and Power House on 28pts could force their way in with 2 rounds to go, but it’s unlikely.
What is shaping as intriguing in the Melbourne competition this year is the struggle between Quins and Hills. Quins have only dropped one game this year and that was against Hills, going down 19-14 just this weekend past (Rd11). And it was no fluke either with Hills pushing Quins all the way in a narrow 33-32 loss back in Rd4. So while Quins seem to have a mortgage on the Dewar competition in recent times, Hills aren’t going silently into the night by any measure. This will be one to watch.
Down in sunny and salubrious Canberra we have the John Dent competition. Top flight rugby in Canberra has a real problem. And it’s all about size. Size does matter. And a seven team comp, with one of those sides existing in name only – Penrith Emus who basically imploded after their 111-17 loss to Vikings back in Rd7 – is just not sustainable, healthy or indeed simply even a ‘good look’ for a club competition that not-so-long-ago went to both Sydney and Brisbane and fairly handed them their butts. To have such a competition underpinning the most successful Super Rugby franchise in the nation and yet only consist of basically six teams in an area as rugby-friendly as Canberra and southern NSW is embarrassing in my opinion.
But anyway, again with 2 rounds remaining before the Top4 finals series and a 26 August grand final, as it stands today, the Tuggeranong Vikings are the far and away competition leaders with 10 wins from 12 starts for 54pts, well out in-front of 2nd placed Gungahlin Eagles at 7 from 12 for 42. Royals and Wests with 42 and 41pts will make up the Top4.
Most would say the competition is Tuggers for the taking. However the worm has turned with Gungas beating Tuggers 41-40 in Rd14 two weeks ago and only last weekend the late-finishing Royals beat Tuggers 29-27. So that competition is far from cut and dried.
Aside from that, casting my eye about, the West Australian competition is a race between Palmyra with 12 wins from 16 starts for 62 points and second placed UWA on 12 from for 55pts. Associates on 49pts and Wests with 48pts make up the top 4, but it’s Palmyra not just with their 62pts lead but their enormous points differential of +362 who are in the box seat yet again.
And lastly for today, South Australia has Brighton topping their table with 11 wins from 12 starts and 53pts leading Souths on 9 for 12 & 49pts whilst Burnside on 46pts and Old Collegians on 40 round out the top 4. So the competition is Brightons to lose. However Souths beat Brighton earlier in the season and also pushed them to the wire with a 25-23 loss in Rd 9, whilst Old Collegians rattled the Brighton cage a few weeks back as well. So it’s not over in South Australia until the fat lady sings in mid September.
Well Cobbers, there is a look about the nation. For mine, here’s hoping the Hunter Wildfires bang some Sydney heads together and it would be grand to see Royals knock over the Tuggers in Canberra. As for the rest, I don’t know the landscape well enough to comment.
Do you? Fill in the blanks and add some colour below in the comments if you know the local competitions – or feel free to add in your own local competition details and let us know the gossip as “Who” takes on “From Where” across the land.