The Rogues Rant

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

Vikings are the first side out of this year’s Finals after their last second loss to University last Sunday. The heartbreaking 22 – 21 one point loss was hard to take for the Vikings diehards in the healthy crowd but what goes around comes around. In the 2017 Final, also played at Vikings Oval, it was Vikings captain Joel Diggins who scored a last minute try to eliminate the Students from last year’s title race. This year it was Country Cockatoos Rep Takunda Chimwaza as the hero, scoring a last second try for the Bulls and with a conversion from Charlie Curry it was Uni who stayed in the running this time around. Uni now go on to play Bowral for a spot in the big one against a red hot Avondale at WIN Stadium on September 15. I have it on pretty good authority that Sundays game was probably the last with Coach Sean Barrett calling the shots for the Blueys. After four years in the job Sean is looking at his future but I reckon it’s a pretty sure bet that there will be a change in the Coaching Staff at the Wollongong club in 2019.          

Well Michael Cheika has shaken things up a bit for Saturday’s vital test against South Africa in Brisbane. Bernard Foley has been left on the bench after being pretty much a permanent fixture in the Wallaby side over the last three years since Cheika took over in 2015. In what is a very interesting move Kurtley Beale has the number 10 with Matt Toomua wearing the number 12. Rory Arnold will start at Lock while on the bench Ned Hannigan returns and Joe Powell will be the spare Halfback with Nick Phipps out injured. Israel Folau returns from injury at Fullback, while Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu and Pete Samu all lose their spots in the squad. Cheika is looking for a different attitude from his squad and it is very much needed. The Springboks have had a win and a loss to the Pumas over the last couple of weeks but are clearly not up to All Black standards but they will certainly be a big assignment for the under pressure Australians. A win is essential if the Wallabies are going to be able to quieten down their detractors after the disappointing performances against the All Blacks.


The Country Eagles have their first hit out this Sunday in Perth up against the Force. The West Aussies had a good 47 – 29 win first up over Brisbane and will take some beating on home turf after a long and successful preparation for the NRC. The first round results were interesting with Fiji beating Melbourne by twenty three points and Queensland Country getting up over Canberra Vikings in a high scoring match in Canberra. The Rays are home to the Vikings this week for their first match as well. My Tips Fiji Dura, Sydney Rays, Western Force and Queensland Country.

It’s a big day on Saturday at Shoalhaven Rugby Park with four games to be played. Two Third Grade games get underway at 12.00 Noon with both grounds at the venue in use. Shoalhaven play Bowral and Camden play Wollondilly with the winners to meet in the Grand Final next week. Second Grade has Campbelltown up against Avondale at 1.15 on the main ground with the winner to play Bowral in the Grand Final. First Grade is from 3.00PM between Bowral and University. Bowral, with their second grade side already through are shooting for all three sides in the Grand Final this year in what is an astounding turn around for the club who just five years ago were on the brink of extinction. So who will be joining Avondale for the big game at WIN Stadium on Saturday the 15th? Bowral didn’t play that badly in the Major Semi last week, it was more a case of Avondale being red hot on the day. The match would have taken a lot out of the Blacks as it was an enormously large physical effort for them right across the park. They still played with their customary structure and competed well throughout the match but in the end were muscled out of the match by the big, powerful defending Premiers. University got away with a close one over Vikings last Sunday which was more a case of one that Vikings let slip. On the back of a horror run of injuries throughout the season the Bulls have fought hard every week to get to this position of being just one game away from another Grand Final appearance. I’m tipping that the final hurdle will be just too much for the Students. Bowral 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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