Counting this week there are five rounds of home-and-away left to play in the Brisbane comp, five in Sydney and just three in Canberra. Sydney’s finals series has room for six teams but the others admit just four. It’s getting serious.
Queensland Premier Rugby
Round 13 Results:
Norths 31 def. Easts 20
Brothers 24 def. University 22
Sunshine Coast 34 def. Souths 22
Gold Coast 40 def. Wests 34
GPS 37 def. Sunnybank 36
Reports say that the Eagles–Tigers match was an ugly one, with the Tigers’ structures broken by injuries and the Eagles overpowering them in the forwards, but any time the bottom team beats the top, it’s big news. Well done Norths. By contrast, the Brethren’s win over the Red Heavies was said to be a great game, with the Murphy brothers helping their team out to a 24–14 lead before Uni came back strongly in the last quarter. The Stingrays had the wood on the Magpies then let them back into the game before closing it out and breaking a long losing streak. Similarly, the Breakers got away from the Bulldogs early but a second-half fightback earned the Dogs a respectable final score and two bonus points. The Dragons scored five tries to the Gallopers’ four and while that wasn’t quite enough to get the win, they came away with two BPs and still hold fourth place—just.
Sunshine Coast* 19
Gold Coast 18
*game in hand
Round 14 Fixtures:
Sunnybank v. University at Old Mac Oval, 3:00pm
GPS v. Sunshine Coast at Yoku Road, 3:20pm
Norths v. Wests at Hugh Courtney Oval, 3:00pm
Gold Coast v. Brothers at Albert Park, 3:30pm
Easts v. Souths at Bottomley Park, 3:00pm
The Red Heavies welcome Nathan Sharpe into the lineup for the away match against the Dragons, whose backline features Matt and Ben Lucas at 9 and 10 and Ben and Rex Tapuai at 12 and 13. At stake is third place on the table, with the loser likely to drop to fifth if the Gallopers dish the Stingrays, as they should. The Eagles should account for the Bulldogs if they carry forward some form and confidence from last week, while the Brethren and the Tigers should be far too strong for the Breakers and Magpies respectively.
Sydney Premier Rugby
Round 17 Results:
Sydney Uni 57 def. Norths 20
Manly 34 def. West Harbour 10
Randwick 52 def. Penrith 38
Southern 43 def. Gordon 35
Easts 32 def. Warringah 18
Eastwood 78 def. Parramatta 10
I gave my tip to the Shoremen last weekend and they matched the Students strongly in the first half. Matter of fact, watching the ABC1 broadcast I was bloody annoyed with Messrs Robilliard and Papworth, who were too busy stroking each other over Uni’s potential to pay attention to the fact that Norths were in front at one stage. Then nigh on half-time Mat Lamont was sent to the bin and Uni took total control of the game. I think I also tipped the Pirates, who held the Marlins to 10-all in the first half but were overrun in the second. The Wicks wanted emphatic revenge over the Emus but their eight-tries-to-six win, which was sealed only late in the match, didn’t quite achieve that goal; nonetheless, it earned them fifth place on the table. The Emus battle on, and continue to run up good scores in defeat. It was a similar story again at Chatswood: 21-all at half-time and the result sealed late, with the Rebels scoring six tries (three to Brackin Karauria-Henry, two to Nick Honey Badger) to the Highlanders’ five. The Rats had a foot on the Beasties’ throat with an 18–8 half-time lead, but Easts won the second half 24-nil and that was that. The Woodies put on 12 tries to the Two Blues’ one; Pierre Hola got a double and kicked eight conversions for a personal tally of 26 points.
Sydney Uni 59
W. Harbour 32
Round 18 Fixtures:
Randwick v. Norths at Coogee Oval, 3:00pm
Manly v. Penrith at Manly Oval, 3:00pm
Sydney Uni v. Southern at University Oval No. 1, 3:00pm
Parramatta v. Easts at Merrylands RSL Rugby Park, 3:00pm
Gordon v. Eastwood at Chatswood Oval, 3:00pm
Warringah v. West Harbour at Pittwater Rugby Park, 7:00pm
Team lists (not yet published)
I’m not certain that there’s a lot to look forward to in this week’s matches. Uni will probably do to the Rebels what they did to Norths last week—i.e., ram home the reality of the gap between the very top teams and the next tier. Norths v. Randwick is an even contest, as is Rats v. Pirates, but the other games should play out in line with ladder positions. For the record, my tips are Wicks, Marlins, Uni, Beasts, Woodies and Rats.
ACT & Southern NSW Premier Division
Round 16 Results:
Queanbeyan 12 def. Uni-Norths 7
Wests 47 def. Easts 12
Royals 34 def. Gungahlin 21
Nothing changed for the Owls last Saturday; they did score a try, but the Whites dished them with four penalty goals. The Lions got into top gear against the Tricolours and—thanks to a bonus point and Royals’ fine win over the Eagles—they find themselves back on top of the ladder. And it’s a fact now: the Royal Blues are not just in a purple patch, they’re red-hot and ready for finals rugby, if they can just get past the Whites and seize fourth before time runs out.
*game in hand
Round 17 Fixtures:
Easts v. Uni-Norths at Griffith Oval, 3.05pm
Gungahlin v. Tuggeranong at Nicholls Oval, 3.05pm
Queanbeyan v. Wests at Campese Field, 3.05pm
The Owls have rejigged the pack for this match with the Tricolours and need to win, otherwise their opponents will come close enough on the table to tag them with the wooden spoon. The Vikings are coming off a long break and will have Colby Faingaa back in the lineup when they visit the Eagles, who also welcome back some key backline componentry. As mentioned above, the Whites’ grip on fourth is at risk, so this is not a good week for them to be facing the in-form and confident Lions. Owls, Eagles and Lions to win.