Round 5 of the Hospital Challenge Cup is done-and-dusted, with an incredible comeback and an upset of the Gold Coast proving the highlights of the weekend.
Here’s ‘five things we learned’ from all the action.
1. Brethren still comeback kingsBrother’s spectacular come from behind win over Wests in Round 5 may go down as the game of the season, and for good reason too.
The win raised memories of last season, when the Brethren launched a number of successful second-half comebacks on their way to the minor premiership.
The Bulldogs raced out to a 40-14 lead by the 35-minute mark courtesy of doubles to Carter Gordon and Callum Hicks, and looked to have the points all wrapped up in front of their home crowd.
The Brethren had other ideas however, running in the final three tries of the match, including a Nathan Carrol stunner in the 80th minute, to give Rohan Saifoloi the chance to snatch victory after the siren.
Close to the left sideline, Saifoloi made no mistake, slotting the goal with ease to send his teammates into celebrations and break the Bulldogs’ hearts.
Saifoloi and Carroll were both among the best performers in the butcher’s stripes, while backrower Noah Nielsen was again a standout, scoring a hat-trick.
The narrow defeat leaves Wests still searching for their first win of 2020, and the side will be raring to secure their first victory when they host Sunnybank this weekend.
Brothers have the bye to refresh before hosting archrivals UQ in Round 7.
2. Shark attack at the CanalBond University brought an end to Easts’ unbeaten start to the season with a 32-22 win on the Gold Coast in Round 5, cementing their status as title contenders in the process.
The Bullsharks dominated possession in the opening half but were unable to consistently break through the stubborn Tigers defence and went to the half with a narrow 7-5 lead.
The hosts went on to open up a 22-10 lead with 15-minutes to play, before Easts hit back with a pair of tries to winger Shane Kennedy to even the ledger at 22-all.
Another dramatic finish looked likely, but it wasn’t to be for the Tigers, with tries to Ryan Menzies and Spencer Jeans eventually sealing a 10-point win and the Bunter Bowl for the home side.
The win is arguably Bond’s most complete performance to date, with the performance of backrow trio Connor Pritchard, Dylan Rowe and Luke Papworth proving particularly impressive for the home side.
Easts will look to return to the winner’s circle in Round 6 when they host Norths, while Bond will travel to Chipsy Wood Oval to take on Souths.
3. Students teach a lesson of their ownWith such a young and inexperienced side, 2020 was always going to be a season full of learning for Souths, and they were taught a number of lessons by the University of Queensland in Round 5.
The Heavies laid on eight tries in a comprehensive victory, running out 50-14 winners against the Magpies at St Lucia.
Brad Twidale starred for the Heavies, scoring a try and kicking five conversions as he continued to impress with his playmaking vision around the park.
18-year-old Mac Grealy also continued his strong start in Premier Grade scoring a double.
Despite the heavy loss, the Magpies showed glimpses of potential throughout the match, but failed to convert their attacking opportunities into points against the Heavies.
Capitalising in the moments that matter will continue to be key for the young side, and they’ll look to do just that when they host Bond this weekend.
After a loss to Easts in Round 3, Uni have put two wins in a row together and are building momentum, with their combination of youth and experience holding the side in good stead in pressure situations.
They’ll travel to Yoku Road this weekend to face their rivals GPS, with the Halley Appleby Memorial Trophy on the line.
4. Gritty GallopersIt wasn’t pretty or comprehensive, but Jeeps did enough to get the win in Round 5 against a Sunnybank side who continue to prove they can match it with the competition’s best.
The Bankers led 12-nil early in the first half, went to the break with a five-point lead over the more fancied home side and led 15-10 as the game headed to its final quarter of play.
It wasn’t to be for the Dragons however, with a try to GPS backrower Adre Namalo Kauyaca and the ensuing AJ Alatimu conversion putting GPS into the lead for the first time in the 65th minute.
The Gallopers went on to hold off Sunnybank in the final minutes, claiming a narrow 17-15 win.
It’s another gritty, determined showing from the Dragons, who continue to refuse to go away in any situation.
Lock Masi Ganita was again among his side’s best, while centre combination Liam McNamara and Rex Tapuai also starred for the Bankers.
They’ll face Wests at Sylvan Road this weekend.
Jeeps will be the first to admit they were far from their best on Saturday, and will need an improved performance when they host UQ this week.
5. Young stars on showThe Hospital Challenge Cup may have seen an influx of former professionals and proven performers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but let’s not forget the eye-catching performances of some of the competition’s young guns in the opening rounds.
School leavers Mac Grealy (UQ) and Lukas Ripley (Souths) went head-to-head on the weekend and provided a number of highlights on Saturday, and they both lined up with a host of other rising stars including Will Roach and Fergus Lillicrap (UQ) as well as Theo Fourie, Phranis Sula-Siaosi and Henry Smith (Souths).
After a season with Queensland Country in the NRC, 21-year-old Wests lock Will Dearden is going from strength-to-strength at Sylvan Road, while Brothers are blooding a number of future backline stars this year including Nathan Carroll and Jangala Bennet.
Down the M1, Rhian Stowers has had an incredible start to the season, on the wing, as has Fred Fewtrell in the star-studded Easts forward pack.
It’s easy to forget Sunnybank scrumhalf Neal McNamara is still only 22, while his GPS counterpart Cullin Cooper-Jones impressed in his introduction to the top grade before succumbing to injury.
Young Norths halves pairing Jacob Prideaux and Liam Prendergast have improved with every game they play and are just two of a number of emerging stars at Shaw Road.
There’s young talent aplenty across the Hospital Challenge Cup in 2020.