The Rogues Rant

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

The Rogue spent the early part of Sunday morning cleaning the egg of his face after that incredible performance from the Wallabies in Dunedin. In the match a week earlier the Wallabies one on one defense was appalling and their slow moving defensive line leaked like a sieve. In Dunedin they were committed individually and their fast moving line defense really put the Kiwis off their game to allow the Aussie attack some space with the likes of Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau and half back Will Genia getting amongst them. But the All Blacks showed once again just how good they are and found a way to deny the Wallabies a much needed win and retain the Bledisloe Cup. Let’s hope the Wallabies can get plenty of confidence out of this one and carry on that sought of form for the rest of The Rugby Championships.

Congratulations to Ethan McIntosh on his appointment as Referee for this week’s Grand Final. I for one wondered a couple of weeks ago whether his appointment to the Minor Semi-Final may have come a little early in his career. Ethan’s performance in that match at Camden and his game in the Final between Vikings and University was the performance you would expect from a much more senior experienced Referee. At 25 years of age he showed in those two very tense matches just what he is made of, showing a maturity much beyond his years. On Saturday he will become the youngest man to ever Referee an IDRU Grand Final and many good judges think he has plenty more to come. Well done Ethan and good luck for Saturday!

Had University hung on and won last week’s Final against Vikings and qualified for the Grand Final against Avondale they would have struggled to put a First Grade standard side on the field in the big game. On the back of season ending injuries to half-back Marama Penitito (Shoulder) and Flanker Takunda Chimwaza (Ankle) in recent weeks, they copped two more serious injuries last Saturday that would have weakened them even further. No.8 Damien Mei, one of their very best for the season suffered an Achilles Tendon injury on Saturday which will need surgery to repair, and Wingman Reuben Thompson suffered a severe knee injury, the extent of which is still to be determined. On top of the injuries star goal-kicking Fly-half Tom Baker was Yellow Carded for the third time this season during the final and as such would have copped an automatic one match suspension making him unavailable for the Grand Final. Given all those circumstances a Bulls victory last week would have probably led to somewhat of an anti-climax come Grand Final day had they survived. Bring on Avondale V Vikings.

Well it’s a big day whichever way you look at it on Grand Final Day with history to be made whoever ends up lifting the silverware at about 4:45 PM on Saturday. Avondale are gunning for win number twenty for the year to complete an unbeaten season, the first time this has happened in Illawarra Rugby since Vikings did it in 1964. On the other hand Vikings are looking for their fourteenth title in what is their 60th Anniversary season in Illawarra Rugby, and will be fielding teams in all three Grand Finals on the day. Avondale Coach Murray McDonald is in his first season as a First Grade Coach after sterling service as a player at Avondale and for a considerable time at Vikings in his early years. Vikings are guided by Sean Barrett as Coach who has extensive experience in the Coaching field with stints as Illawarriors Senior Coach, taking the side to two Caldwell Cup Finals and winning Country Championships in every junior age group. Sean has also coached at Southern District and at International level with the Australian Womens Team at the World Cup in England. Both sides are full of quality players with many years’ experience at First Grade and Representative level. The Wombats have won all three times the teams have met this year. During the rounds they got away with two narrow five point wins and then had a more convincing 36 – 20 win in the Major Semi Final. In reality all three games could have gone either way but to their credit Avondale have enjoyed a remarkable unbeaten record and they must be regarded as warm favorites to take the title this week. Vikings have struck some injury problems leading into the match and will not be able to field their top side but will have plenty to offer in what I am expecting to be a very keenly contested Grand Final. My record in tipping the winner of IDRU Grand Finals over the last four years has not been too good having only tipped one winner, University in 2015. So here we go for the last time in 2017. In the lower grades I’ll go a Vikings win in Second Grade over Bowral and I’ll tip the very experienced Shoalhaven side to prevail over Vikings in Third Grade. I have to go for Avondale to win in First Grade given the amount of attacking potential that they possess right across the field. Vikings won’t take a backward step and you can expect that the Wombats will have to work very hard for the full eighty minutes if they are to complete the perfect season. 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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