The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

There was another Milestone match last week when Tech Waratahs Legend Harry Hawksworth took the field for the club for the 300th time. After a couple of years in retirement Harry could no longer resist the urge to play especially when the opportunity came to play alongside his 19 year old son Chris. That opportunity came earlier this season when the pair played beside one another in the lower grades. Chris is now carrying on the Hawksworth tradition in the front row of the clubs First Grade side. Harry was a mainstay for the club during their golden era in the 2000’s, winning top grade titles in 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2009. Now well into his forties Harry is adamant that there will be no more comebacks. Well done Harry.

On milestone matches, Viking’s Andrew Stanton had a memorable day in more ways than one for his 400th a couple of weeks back. With the match in the balance, ironically against Tech Waratahs, Andrew scored the match defining try in the dying stages of the match. He then stepped up and showing all the skills of goal kicking from a bygone age converted the try with a straight on approach and kicking with his Toe for a 21 – 12 victory for Vikings.

The knives are out for Michael Cheika, not warranted in my view. The Wallabies sliding world rankings is a symptom of the much mentioned failure of Rugby Australia’s Coaching and Development programs of the last twenty odd years. Cheika’s coaching record since returning to Australia has been admirable. A Super Rugby title with the Waratahs and a World Cup Final berth with the Wallabies showing along the way that he has the ability to get the very best out of the players he has at his disposal. He’s not doing himself any favors though giving the Journo’s a mouth full like he did last week.

The NRC gets underway this weekend. It’s an eight team competition this year with just two teams from NSW, the Sydney Rays and the Country Eagles. Both Sydney sides have a Bye this week to allow for the Shute Shield Grand Final between Warringah and Sydney University. The other teams are Brisbane City, Queensland Country, Canberra, Fiji, Melbourne and we see the return of the Western Force. It should prove to be a pretty well balanced competition but the proof will be in the eating. Everyone plays each other once with the Grand Final set for October 27th.

Finals time locally with the Major Semi-Finals on Saturday at Eridge Park and the Minor Semi’s at Vikings Oval on Sunday. In what has been a pretty open season across the grades we have no less than ten clubs featuring in this year’s finals series. Bowral leads the charge with all three grades qualifying, with Avondale and Shamrocks with two teams each as Shamrocks were just one win out of it in First Grade. Thirds kick off this weekend at 12.00Noon with First Grade at 3.00PM. There is a six team final series in Third Grade so we will see two Third Grade matches played on Finals day on Saturday week. To this week’s matches. Bowral will definitely have an advantage on their home ground with strong support turning out week in week out getting right behind the Blacks. Bowral had a strong home win over the Wombats in Round 12 and have shown in recent weeks that they are in good form going into the finals. The Minor Premiers and defending champions remain the team to beat however, finishing with two more wins clear at the top of the table after 18 Rounds. There will be nothing in this one and I wouldn’t be surprised to see extra time played to get a result. I think Avondale will spoil the party for the locals and move through to another Grand Final. Avondale to win. The Minor Semi on Sunday will also be a close encounter. Vikings had a close four point win in Round 12 which was a tough close contest after Uni had a big win back in Round 3. The Bulls have had an horrific year with injuries and are coming off a narrow one point loss to Bowral last week. Vikings have won their last four after losing by a big score against Avondale. It’s hard to get a line on the form here but I think Vikings with the home ground advantage can progress to the Final. Vikings to win.

All opinions offered in this column are the opinion of the author. They should not be considered to represent the views of the IDRU.

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