Your guide to Week 1 of RUSA Senior Finals 2023

Thu, Aug 31, 2023, 4:00 AM
Rugby Union SA
by Rugby Union SA

Brighton and Southern Suburbs enter this weekend as the favourites to earn a automatic grand final berth in Premier and Women's respectively but all bets are off in finals footy.

Burnside are the best represented with all four teams participating across Week 1 of Finals with Brighton (three), Souths (two) and Old Collegians (two) also boasting multiple sides.

Woodville and Adelaide University's title hopes lay with their in-form women while Onkaparinga and Barossa are still in the fight for Third Grade glory.

Here’s your Week 1 Finals Breakdown across the senior grades:

Premier Grade

Brighton emerged from the regular season in first place after Jordan Craig’s four-try haul helped down Souths 46-24 in Round 18, marking a 15th consecutive Tigers win.

The defending premiers haven’t lost since falling to Old Collegians 27-25 back in Round 1 and enter their major semi-final as hot favourites to topple Burnside (second) for a third time this season and book yet another grand final berth.

However, the Double Blues will prove a stern challenge – they haven’t dropped a game since their 16-21 loss to Brighton in Round 11 – and coach TJ Maualaivao has the side humming after recent bonus-point wins over finals-bound Old Colls and Souths.

The winner of Brighton v Burnside will earn a week off and automatic qualification to the decider.

Meanwhile there’s no second chances in Sunday’s minor semi-final between Old Colls (third) and Souths (fourth) with the loser facing elimination.

Despite their early season form, Souths haven’t tasted victory since Round 15 and will be tested by the competition’s form attacking outfit this month with Old Colls averaging 80+ points over their past three outings.

Old Colls also hold bragging rights following their 52-7 win back in Round 14, though Souths took the earlier fixture 30-18 in Round 5.

Major Semi-Final: Brighton v Burnside (Saturday 2 September, 3:30pm)

Minor Semi-Final: Old Collegians v Southern Suburbs (Sunday 3 September, 3:30pm)

Women’s Competition

Souths and Woodville will renew their rivalry in the women’s major semi-final after finishing first and second respectively.

Souths went through the regular season undefeated with a Round 7 draw against Burnside (third) their only blip in an otherwise perfect run to finals.

The defending premiers are favoured to earn automatic qualification after earlier wins over Woodville in Round 6 (25-10) and Round 15 (33-12), though the Wasps look to have hit their stride this past fortnight after consecutive bonus-point wins over Old Colls and Burnside.

Meanwhile Adelaide University (fourth) are a smokey to progress following their Round 3 (15-0) and Round 12 (24-3) wins over minor semi-final rivals Burnside despite finishing below the Double Blues on the ladder.

Burnside struggled late in the season won but remain a formidable opponent, having beaten Woodville (8-7 in Round 9) and drawn with title-favourites Souths.

Major Semi-Final: Southern Suburbs v Woodville (Saturday 2 September, 11:50am)

Minor Semi-Final: Burnside v Adelaide University (Sunday 3 September, 11:50am)

Reserve Grade

Brighton will tackle Old Collegians in the Reserve Grade major semi-final after the Tigers thumped Souths 43-5 in Round 18 to complete a perfect regular season.

Selwyn Nunu’s hat-trick iced Brighton’s 18th straight win of the year and ensured Brighton enter Saturday’s clash as heavy favourites to book their grand final ticket.

Old Colls aren’t to be underestimated though – just three points separated the sides in Round 1 (won 15-12 by Brighton) and they haven’t lost a game since travelling to Brighton in Round 10.

Sunday sees Barossa (third) and Burnside (fourth) renew hostilities in the minor semi-final after two action-packed meetings in 2023.

The Rams won away in their most recent encounter (33-19 in Round 13) and took the chocolates back in Round 4 (25-10) but they’ll face a Double Blues side firing after consecutive bonus-point wins over Souths and Elizabeth.

Major Semi-Final: Brighton v Old Collegians (Saturday 2 September, 1:40pm)

Minor Semi-Final: Barossa v Burnside (Sunday 3 September, 1:40pm)

Third Grade

This major semi-final might be Saturday’s best with a red-hot Barossa out for revenge against minor premiers Brighton.

The sides are one win apiece in 2023 with the Tigers’ Round 15 triumph (18-7) squaring the Rams’ earlier victory in Round 6 (36-24).

The loser will face whoever emerges from Sunday’s minor semi-final with Burnside (third) and Onkaparinga (fourth) fighting to keep their title hopes alive

A dramatic Round 18 draw with North Torrens earned Onkas’ finals berth but they’ll need a far better showing to buck the trend and bank a maiden win over Burnside in 2023 after earlier defeats in Round 10 (53-14) and Round 1 (26-18).

Major Semi-Final: Brighton v Barossa (Saturday 2 September, 10:00am)

Minor Semi-Final: Burnside v Onkaparinga (Sunday 3 September, 10:00am)