Round 2 of the Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup saw Bond University and Brothers claim their first wins of 2020, while Easts and GPS stamped their authority as premiership heavyweights this season.
Here’s ‘five things we learned’ from all the action.
1. The Third effect
Bond University flyhalf Mitch Third stepped up in thrilling fashion on Saturday to down Sunnybank with a penalty goal after the siren on the Gold Coast.
The Dragons held a 25-13 lead early in the second half courtesy of a Lachlan MacElroy brace, before the Bullsharks launched a six-minute, three-try assault, to wrestle back the lead and momentum at the Canal.
Sunnybank weren’t done yet however, with a late try and penalty goal putting the visitors back into the lead, 35-34, with four-minutes to play.
With the siren sounded, the Dragons looked to have snagged their first win of the season, but Connor Pritchard had other ideas, as the flanker secured the crucial turnover to give Third the chance to snatch the win.
The flyhalf made no mistake with the 40-metre penalty, breaking Sunnybank hearts as he kicked his side to a narrow 37-35 win.
Despite the loss, Sunnybank will take plenty away from the match, with the performance of halves pairing Neal McNamara and Tom Lucas a shining light for the Dragons.
They’ll look to bounce back and claim their first of the year when they host Souths this weekend.
The Bond backline was again the focal point of their attacking game plan, with wingers Max Dowd and Ryan Menzies crossing the line, while the new midfield duo of Tyler Campbell and skipper Dan Boardman also struck up a handy combination for the Bullsharks.
Another home game, this time against Norths, awaits Bond in Round 3.
2. Brethren bounce back
After a disappointing loss in Round 1, Brothers hit back on Saturday with a comprehensive win over Norths at Crosby Park.
In a tightly contested first-half, the Brethren led by just two-points at the break, before running in 19-unanswered points in the second stanza to claim a 33-19 win.
Paddy James was key for the side in his first game back since the COVID-19 break, the inside-centre scoring a try and providing direction and experience in the backline.
Reuben Wall and Jangala Bennet both crossed for doubles in the win as Brothers retained the Green Beacon Cup in the battle for northside supremacy.
The Eagles will be left to rue their second half performance, after the side put themselves firmly in the contest in the opening forty minutes.
Norths flyhalf Jacob Prideaux scored a stunning try for his side, the playmaker going close to length of the field to score one of the Eagles two tries.
Norths face another tough challenge when they travel south to face Bond this weekend, while Brothers take on the red-hot GPS side at Yoku Road.
3. Family ties at Yoku Road
The Gallopers posted 59-points for the second consecutive week as their new-look side continues to perform, but it was a special weekend for the club as they had three sets of brothers within the match day 23.
It was no secret that it was a special occasion for the Genia’s with Wallabies centurion Will making his return to club Rugby and having the opportunity to play with younger brother Nigel for the first time ever. GPS stalwarts Michael and Nick Richards started in the backrow together, while Tela brothers Teti and Semeti combined in the mid-field.
Although the loss was heavy for the Magpies, Souths will take plenty of experience from their encounter with the premiership heavyweights, as their young squad continues to learn what it takes to match it with the best at Premier Grade level.
Halves William Rutherford and Roman Prasad were again among the standouts for the Magpies, alongside hooker Theo Fourie who continues to uphold the faith head coach Todd Dammers has put in him.
The Magpies will face Sunnybank in the southside derby this weekend, while Jeeps will get another test of their premiership credentials when they host Brothers.
4. Tigers hunting in a pack
It’s hard to pin-point a key weakness in the Easts line-up this year.
From Richie Asiata, George Francis and Rhys van Nek in the frontrow, to the spark of Jack Frampton at flyhalf and the experience of fullback Aidan Toua in the backs, this Tigers side has depth and class across all positions.
They proved just so on the weekend, with a 32-17 win over the Bulldogs at Sylvan Road making it two wins from as many starts for the side.
Easts raced out of the blocks to lead 22-nil by the 20-minute mark, before a late Wests comeback narrowed the end scoreline.
After a number of injury issues last season, Frampton is back to his electric best, scoring a signature chip and chase try, while off-season recruit Matt Smit has taken to life in Tigers colours with rousing success.
Former Wallaby captain Ben Mowen scored his first try of the season, as fellow backrowers Tom Milosevic and Alex Smit continue to make their mark as one of the Hospital Cup’s best backrows.
The Bulldogs will be happy with their second half effort against the competition leaders but will be hoping for 80-minute performances as the season continues.
They have the bye this week, while Easts will take on UQ in what shapes as a huge encounter at St Lucia.
5. COVID-19 silver linings
It’s been a tough year for the entire Queensland Premier Rugby community, but one silver shining is beginning to show as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With seasons cancelled across the world, a number of competition favourites have returned to club Rugby, and it’s led to some of the highest standard of play seen in recent years.
From Scott Gale and Con Foley at UQ, to Tom Milosevic and Landon Hayes at Easts, and now Will Genia at Jeeps, fans have had the chance to see a number of quality Rugby players back at their clubs playing grassroots Rugby.
It’s not every day a 100-Test Wallaby runs on at Yoku Road, and it’s only bettering the Hospital Challenge Cup in 2020.