The Rogues Rant

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

If you enjoyed watching the Shute Shield on 7Two each week this year it’s no thanks to the Rugby hierarchy. In what would be of no surprise to many Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby made no financial contribution to getting this coverage on free to air TV. Rugby nuts Nick Fordham and John Murray, the President of Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union Club, put up their own money to finance this very successful high rating exercise. When approached for assistance to promote the venture the governing bodies decided not to assist with the promotion of what is grass roots rugby once again. Certainly no surprises there.

The proudest man at WIN Stadium this week no doubt will be Bowral stalwart Mark Freund. Mark will be on the field for the second grade Grand Final with a bunch of his best mates. The big easy talking humble front rower has seen the club through the darkest days of the last ten years. Even when the club was at deaths door a few years ago Mark as President, wouldn’t hear of the demise of the great Southern Highlands club. The success the club is now enjoying would not have eventuated if not for the drive and determination of Mark and his band of workers who have dragged the club back from the brink and now deserve all the success that is coming their way both on and off the field. Well done Mark Freund.

Plenty of points scored last week in the NRC. Three sides now have two from two. Western Force were impressive winners over NSW Country Eagles by 54 – 28 and are looking as though they are going to be hard to beat each week. Fijian Drua is on top of the table after thrashing Brisbane City 66 - 5 and has a one point lead over Western Force. Queensland Country are one point behind with two from two also after a one point 29 – 28 win over Melbourne. This week Queensland Country has the Drua at home while the Eagles play Melbourne at Mudgee. The Sydney Rays play Brisbane at Woollahra Oval while on Sunday Canberra is up against the Force at Vikings Park. Three from four for me last week, my tips this week are, Drua, Eagles, Rays and Force.

A bit more shuffling from Michael Cheika this week with players returning to the squad as Israel Folau will play on the wing with Dane Haylett-Petty staying at Fullback – Interesting. The game against the Pumas on the Gold Coast is a must win situation again for the Wallabies with the good news that David Pocock and also Adam Coleman are back. I’ll go for an Aussie win but you never know with these Pumas.

So Grand Final day is on us already for 2018. Five clubs will be on deck on Saturday with the out of town clubs dominating proceedings. Third Grade kicks off at 11.00am with Shoalhaven and Camden. Second Grade at 12.50pm features Bowral and Campbelltown with the big one at 3.00pm for Avondale and Bowral. If you can’t get there you can catch the action on Bar TV Sports. The question is who is going to win? After the manner in which Avondale dominated Bowral in the Major Semi-Final, it’s hard to see the result being reversed on Saturday. The weather man is predicting 29 degrees on Saturday which you would think would help to slow down the big Wombat forwards somewhat. On the other hand Bowral have been subject to two very hard outings over the last two weeks and have a couple of injury problems to overcome, while the Avondale side will be coming into this one well rested from the week off. It was one apiece during the season with each side winning at home, Avondale 12 – 5 in round three and Bowral having their best win of the year at Eridge by 20 – 12 in Round 12. Avondale’s seven try to one victory by 43 – 11 in the Major Semi was very impressive with many people leaving the ground that day convinced that Avondale would be Premiers. It’s very hard to argue that with the form we have seen over the last couple of weeks the Wombats will be going into this one as firm favorites but Grand Finals often produce fairy tale endings and there will be plenty hoping for just that this weekend. This is a very strong Avondale unit and on the back of their form in the Major Semi Final, I am going to tip a Wombat victory and back to back titles for rookie coach Murray MacDonald. Avondale 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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