The Rogues Rant #226

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

Spare a though for injured Shamrocks Flanker Iszak Lunney. Lunney will miss Saturdays big game at WIN Stadium after suffering a bad knee injury in the Rocks Semi-Final win over University a couple of weeks ago. Iszak underwent surgery to repair his Medial Ligament on Tuesday and will be having more surgery in coming weeks to repair damage to other knee ligaments as well. Iszak has had a great year figuring prominently in the IDRU Player of the Year award finishing third in the tally. Lunney is confident that he will be back rowing Surf Boats in twelve weeks’ time and back full of running in time for the Rocks 2020 campaign. All the best to Iszak.

Great to hear the news this week that the Waratahs will be bringing their Super Rugby match against the Chiefs to WIN Stadium Wollongong in March. The Waratahs are without a permanent home ground while the SFS is redeveloped and will be sharing their home matches around a bit including Newcastle and Wollongong. Let’s hope that we can see this sought of thing become an ongoing exercise in the years ahead to help promote Rugby in outer areas. The game sure needs it!  

Speaking of WIN Stadium, it should be a big day on Saturday in more ways than one. We can look forward to a great Grand Final between Avondale and Shamrocks under lights at 6.00PM which could go either way although Avondale will start as justified favorites after another outstanding year and a strong win over Bowral in the Major Semi. The NSW Country Eagles have started the year unbeaten so far in the NRC and their match up with the Fiji Drua at 4.00PM should be full of interest. The Drua have just a draw to show for the year so far but the Eagles will not be underestimating the strength of the Fijians for this match.  With the NRC match and five local clubs involved across all the Grand Finals a big crowd is assured for the day. Gates open at 11.00AM with the Third Grade match between Vincentia and Vikings kicking proceedings off at 12.00Noon.  The Second Grade decider between Shamrocks and Bowral is at 2.00PM. See you there!

The Wallabies have arrived in Japan to prepare for the World Cup with their first match against Fiji on Saturday 21st September at 2.45PM our time at the Sapporo Dome. Their showing against Samoa last week was nothing to write home about, leaving the squad with plenty of work to do going forward. New Zealand had a big win over Tonga last week with wins also coming for England over Italy and a close win for Ireland over Wales in other recent warm up matches. Australia has Pool matches against Wales, Uruguay and Georgia to follow and must finish first or second in the Pool to progress through to the Quarter Finals. It would be a disaster for Australian Rugby if the Wallabies didn’t at least make it through the Pool stages so a good start against Fiji and Wales is critical for the side.  

The unbeaten Western Force is sitting on top of the NRC Table, just one point ahead of the Eagles who are also two from two after two rounds. They are the only unbeaten sides so far and on form should remain so this week. Sydney is up against Queensland Country at Woollahra Oval and need a win. Canberra Vikings are home to Brisbane in a match that could go either way. The Eagles are at WIN Stadium while the Force is opposed to Melbourne at the UWA Grounds in Perth. My tips for this week: Sydney, Vikings, Eagles and Force.

Now for the biggest day of the year. Can you believe how fast this season has gone by? The Third Grade final series has been full of interest with the matches being of a very high standard. Vincentia finished second on the ladder and have qualified for another Grand Final against their rivals of 2016 Vikings. Vikings, who finished fifth on the table this year, got the trophy on that occasion but this time around I think Vincentia can come out on top. Vincentia to Win. Shamrocks have beaten Bowral comfortably three times in Second Grade this year including a 24 – 7 win in the Major Semi Final. I think that they can do it again one more time in the GF. Shamrocks to Win. As I said earlier I’m going for an Eagles win in the NRC. NSW Country Eagles to win. So to First Grade and Avondale V Shamrocks. The Rocks are really on a roll having won their last seven matches, all of which were must win situations to firstly make the final four and then to continue to the Big Match. Avondale in that same period of time have won four, having lost to Bowral and drawing with Vikings during the rounds before having a strong win over Bowral in the Major Semi. Avondale have without doubt the best attacking potential of any side in the competition and have shown a level of composure this year that has not been a part of their makeup in previous seasons. Shamrocks on the other hand have shown their willingness to turn up in defense and go for the whole eighty minutes while over the latter stages of the year producing some outstanding attacking play during their run to the GF. Interestingly The Wombats is the only side that the Rocks have not beaten in 2019. This match should be a cracker and a fitting finale to what has been a very enjoyable season of Rugby in the Illawarra. I’ve only tipped two Grand Final winners in the last seven years so at the risk of putting a jinx on them I’m going to go for the boys from Woonona. Shamrocks 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.