Round 4 of the Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup saw four cracking matches across the competition, as the race to the top four continues.
Here’s ‘five things we learned’ from all the action.
1. Tiger Kings
With four wins from as many matches this year, Easts have claimed outright first on the ladder and established themselves as the team to beat in 2020.
The Tigers had their toughest test of the season on the weekend and passed with flying colours with a 35-29 win over GPS at David Wilson Field.
With a healthy wind at their backs, the Gallopers had the better of the opening forty, leading 17-10 at the break.
Easts hit back the following half, wrestling back the momentum to eventually claim a six-point win in their first home game of the season.
Scrumhalf Eli Pilz continued his impressive season, with his control of the ruck and game management pivotal for the Tigers, while his accuracy off the boot – Pilz kicked three out of four conversions and three penalties – also proved crucial in the end result at Tigerland.
Ben Mowen was another standout for the Tigers, the former Wallaby captain snatching a pair of decisive turnovers in the first half to deny the surging Jeeps attack and keep his side in the fight.
Although these sides won’t meet again in the regular season, the chances of them facing off in the finals becomes more likely every week, and if Saturday’s showing is anything to go off, it should be a cracker.
Easts will look to continue their winning streak when they face when they travel South to face Bond, while Jeeps will host Sunnybank.
2. Brethren attack kicks into gear
In vast contrast to their incredible attacking exploits of 2019, Brothers have averaged just 20-points per game in their first three outings this season, but the Brethren may have turned a corner on the weekend.
The butcher’s stripes attacking unit turned it on at Crosby Park, running in seven tries to defeat Bond University 46-29.
After a tightly contested opening forty, the Brethren launched a 20-minute, three-try assault to open the second half and claim an unassailable 22-point lead as the game headed to its final quarter.
The Bullsharks ran in a pair of late tries, but it was merely consolation as Brothers secured a 17-poin win.
In his first start of the season, youngster Hudson Creighton scored a pair of impressive long-range tries, splitting the Bullsharks defence with pure pace and strength off deft Rohan Saifoloi short balls.
Hooker Matt Faessler was also at his best, scoring a try and impressing with his work rate around the park.
The loss is Bond’s first for the season, and the side will be looking to build to an 80-minute performance after again showing glimpses of their potential throughout the match.
They’ll have another tough test this weekend when they host Easts, with Brothers facing Wests at Sylvan Road.
3. Uni find a way
No matter the circumstances, the University of Queensland continue to find ways to win.
The Heavies eventually secured a 26-24 win over Sunnybank in Round 4, but for much of the match it seemed as though the Bankers would walk away with the points.
The Dragons held a 24-12 lead with 15-minutes to play at Oldmac Oval and looked to have snatched an upset win over the defending premiers on the back of a playmaking masterclass by Tom Lucas, Hayden Sargeant and Neal McNamara.
TJ Siakisini had other ideas however, the hulking centre crashing over the line to bring the Heavies within a converted try and set up a grandstand finish at the Bank.
With the door slightly ajar, Con Foley opened it fully, evening the scores with a late try to give Kye Oates the chance to kick his side into the lead from the left sideline.
Oates made no mistake, slotting the conversion and breaking the hearts of the Sunnybank crowd to secure a thrilling two-point win for Uni.
The loss is Sunnybank’s third straight by two-points or less, and the Bankers continue to show they have the grit and skill to contend with the best of the best this season.
They’ll get another chance to prove that theory against GPS, while the Heavies host a Souths side fresh from the bye.
4. Eagles on the board
Nick Chapman made a triumphant return to the Hospital Cup in Round 4, with his Norths side securing their first win of the season with a 36-22 victory over Wests.
In a seesawing affair at Hugh Courtney Oval, the Bulldogs raced out of the blocks to lead 12-nil early, before the Eagles hit back to even the ledger by the half-time break.
Both sides managed just one five-pointer in the opening thirty minutes of the second half to set up a tense final 10-minutes, before a pair of tries in the last five-minutes of play sealed a 14-point win for the Eagles.
Chapman’s return was a welcome sight for the Norths faithful, with the classy fullback playing a hand in number of tries, including a length of the field stunner to Veresa Mataitini.
After breaking the Wests line on his own 10-metre line, Chapman raced down field, before launching an inch-perfect kick to Mataitini who collected the bouncing ball and scored under the posts.
The Wests forward pack again impressed, with frontrowers Gav Luka and Liam Usher leaving the mark, but the Bulldogs will be left to lament their inability to turn attacking pressure into points.
They’ll host Brothers this weekend at the Kennel, with Norths enjoying the bye.
5. Premier Womens competition tighter than ever
The Queensland Premier Rugby Womens competition is heating up, with all nine clubs involved for the first time.
Easts and Bond University, who are both in their first season in the competition, have been the top performers after four rounds of play, with the Bullsharks running in a number of resounding wins to begin their campaign.
GPS have won three of their first four fixtures, their only loss coming last weekend against Easts.
UQ have also started positively, winning two out of their first three matches, including besting Sunnybank in Round 4 who have claimed the past five premierships.
The Bankers have just one win so far, as they look to rediscover their form from previous seasons, and while Norths and Souths are yet to notch their first victories, both have shown positive signs so far this season.