Six rounds of the 2020 Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup are in the
books, with four cracking games taking place across Brisbane over the weekend.
Here’s ‘five things we learned’ from all the action.
1. Defending premiers still on topWith a 29-26 win over GPS in Round 6, the University of Queensland have moved into outright first on the competition ladder as they aim to become the first team since Canberra in 2003 to win back-to-back premierships.
The Heavies didn’t have it all their own way over the weekend, and it was only a Kye Oates penalty after the siren which split the two fierce rivals at Yoku Road.
The Gallopers led 26-19 with just minutes to play, before a late try to Conor Mitchell set the scene for Oates to ice the game.
Young gun Mac Grealy again starred, scoring a double, while the Uni forwards put in a huge effort against the Jeeps pack, with the likes of Pat Morrey, Connor Vest and Will Roach among the side’s strongest performers.
In what was a monumental battle at scrum time, Emosi Tuqiri starred for GPS, impressing with his set-piece performance and his physicality and defence around the park.
The narrow loss sees the Gallopers slide to fourth on the ladder, and they’ll be raring to go against Norths at Hugh Courtney Oval this weekend.
Uni will also be up and about for their Round 7 clash, with the Students facing Brothers in a Grand Final rematch at Crosby Park.
2. Bulldogs on the boardAfter a heartbreaking loss on the buzzer last weekend, Wests broke through for their first win of 2020 in similar fashion in Round 6 with a dramatic victory over Sunnybank at Sylvan Road.
In what was a seesawing and tightly contested affair, the Bulldogs eventually claimed victory after the siren, with a dominant scrum forcing a penalty try and sealing a 38-31 win for the side.
The hosts had a number of opportunities to kick for goal in the final minutes, but instead chose to back their scrum from close to the line, illustrating the growing confidence within the Bulldogs pack.
Young halfback Jacob Carmichael crossed for his maiden Premier Rugby five-pointer in the win, while Jeremiah Skelton also continued his strong start to life in Toowong, scoring a try and impressing with his work-rate and physicality around the park.
The loss is another narrow defeat for Sunnybank, who have now lost three consecutive games by a single try or less.
The makings of a top team are there for Sione Fukofuka’s men, they just need to convert their strengths into wins.
The Bankers have the bye to refresh this week, while Wests will host a red-hot Bond University side in Toowong.
3. Bullsharks the real dealThere’s long been a sense that this Bond University squad has the potential to be a premiership contender, and the Bullsharks are proving just why in 2020.
After knocking off title heavyweights Easts last week, the Gold Coasters backed up their performance with a 39-24 win over Souths on Saturday.
Playing away at Chipsy Wood Oval, Bond ran in six tries against the Magpies, with the class of backline stars Liam Dillon and Dan Boardman shining through in the win.
The Bullsharks’ forward pack was also particularly impressive in the win, with lock Jake Upfield forcing turnovers on a number of lineouts and rocking Souths with his physicality in defence.
Souths will again take lessons away from their encounter with the potent Bond side, as the young group continue to find combinations and experience in the top grade.
Promising young flanker Angus Dean crossed for a double for the Magpies, while Luke Samoa was another standout, with the Romanian international leading the side around the park from fullback.
Bond will face Wests away from home this round, with Souths hosting Easts at the Nest.
4. Tigers pounceEasts returned to the winner’s circle over the weekend with a resounding 31-7
win over Norths at David Wilson Field.
The win sees the Tigers move into equal second spot on the ladder alongside Bond, with the side sitting just one-point adrift of UQ and well within striking distance of the defending premiers.
The Tigers opened up an 18-nil lead by the half-time break, and only extended
their lead in the second stanza to record a 24-point victory over the Eagles.
Norths outside centre Reece Tapine crossed for his side’s only try in the final
minutes, but it was merely consolation as the Tigers claimed their third win to go
into equal second spot.
Captain Ben Mowen and Richie Asiata both crossed for doubles in the victory,
while Aidan Toua again impressed with his leadership and playmaking vision at
The Tigers will look to make it two wins on the trot when they take on Souths weekend, while Norths host GPS in what shapes as another huge test for the young Eagles outfit.
5. Tight at the topWe always knew that the 2020 edition of the Hospital Challenge Cup was going to be a tight one, but after four official rounds it is becoming clear just how tight this year’s race to the finals will be.
Teams have just the one opportunity to face off, meaning wins are at a premium and any loss is disastrous.
As it stands at the almost-halfway point of the season, UQ lead the competition by just one-point, with Easts and Bond University trailing closely behind on 16-points.
Rounding out the top-four is GPS on 13-points, while Brothers, Wests, Sunnybank, Norths and Souths below them can all leapfrog their opponents with a few consecutive wins.
Every match of every week is crucial , and with only five rounds to go, we’re already moving towards to pointy end of the competition.