By Joshua Wells
Universities Rugby League Queensland (URLQ) will kick off on April 30 at Griffith University’s Nathan Campus with all six teams competing back to back.
Griffith University will be represented by Brisbane’s Dragons, Gold Coast’s Panthers and champions Logan Redbacks with the competition rounded out by the UQ Hounds, QUT Trouts and USQ Toowoomba Ironbarks.
There will be 10 competition rounds with each side playing twice, a mid-season Rugby League Nines tournament hosted by Australian University Sport and finals will kick off on the 10th of September.
URLQ will again select a Queensland side to tour Coffs Harbour, New South Wales after their successful campaign in Tonga last season.
Logan Redbacks v UQ Hounds
The first match of season 2014 will see Premiers Logan take on runners up UQ in what promises to be a thrilling match. The 2013 grand final had it all but eventually the Redbacks took the trophy with a 24-20 victory in one of the most thrilling finals in recent history.
The two clubs played in round one of the 2013 season but it was Logan who drew first blood with a good 26-18 victory over UQ on a warm Anzac Day. Later in the season, the UQ Hounds took a quick 8-0 lead over the Redbacks but Logan was too big and too fast as they stormed home to win 22-8.
Logan only lost twice last season and the first was against the Dragons in round two of the competition going down 26-10. Logan were in the match for the whole way but just like round one, they ran out of steam late in the match but this time they were unable to score in the second half. From that point on the Redbacks muscled up and trained hard as they captivated the whole University landscape to become champions, just one year after being declaredthe worst in the competition.
The Hounds season wasn’t as exciting as the Redbacks but it sure was entertaining. They would eventually capture second place on the standings with a rocky start to the season but they continued to regroup and win when they needed it. In the final round of the competition UQ had to win to make the finals and were able to beat a spirited Dragons side 32-20 to win after an early scare.
Both sides will see this clash as a must win match to set the precedent for the competition in 2014 with all eyes on the grand finalists.With a 3-0 clean sweep over UQ last season Logan will want to stamp their authority as champions with a new look team but the Hounds will want to show that they can go one further in 2014.
Kick off 5.30pm, April 30, Griffith University Nathan Campus.
QUT Trouts v USQ Ironbarks
The second match of the season will host the battle of the 2013 semi-finalists with QUT taking on USQ. In the finals QUT were eliminated by UQ Hounds going down 38-10 and 2012 champions USQ were eliminated by eventual champs Logan 54-10.
QUT were once the most feared force in the URLQ after three successive premierships but they now find themselves in a rebuilding stage. Last season the Trouts finished with 5 wins and 5 losses and third place due to points difference. They were another side involved in the sudden death final round of2013 after their huge 46-18 win over Gold Coast put them into the finals,knocking the Panthers out.
USQ shocked the whole competition when they became URLQ Premiers with a big win over the Dragons in the 2012 grand final. Coming into the new season they were a feared opponent and on everyone’s radar as theystarted fast but eventually came undone as the season progressed. The sleeping giant finished fourth last season after shocking Logan Redbacks in the final round 38-22. A week later a fired up Logan side steamrolled the Ironbarks 54-10 to claim a grand final berth.
In round one last season these two sides played at Nathan on Anzac Day and it was USQ who opened their account with a tough 22-10 win. These two sides have been fairly quiet over the off season but they should once again both finish around the middle of the table as surprisingly QUT were the best attacking side and USQ second best in 2013.
Kick off 6.45pm, April 30, Griffith University Nathan Campus.
Griffith Dragons v Griffith Gold Coast Panthers
Wooden Spooners Griffith Dragons will take on their Coast counterparts the Panthers in the final matchup of the first round. Both of these sides were up and down in 2013 with neither managing to build any momentum throughout the competition.
The Griffith Dragons claimed a grand final spot in 2012 with a mix of good luck and skill and many thought their 2013 could bring more fortune for the side from Nathan. They opened the season with a round one win and continued their good form a week later beating the Redbacks to lead the competition. Flying high after two rounds the Dragons would lose the next 8games to finish last on the table as other teams hit their straps.
The Griffith Gold Coast Panthers are historically a side that are thereabouts at the end of the season and will be no different in 2014. In the final round of the competition the Panthers had the chance to secure a finals spot but were unable to win the match, ending their season but they held their heads high. They are expected to field a completely brand new side in 2014 and some have labelled the side the dark horses.
Not much has come out of these camps but they are both expected to be competitive in 2014. Round one 2013 saw these two sides clash with Dragons taking the win 22-4 as the Panthers struggled with a new look outfit.Both sides could potentially vie for bottom of the table spots again but improvement is not far away for either side.
Kick off 8pm, April 30, Griffith University Nathan Campus.
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