Darwin finals loom after Masters 10s celebrates rugby's lighter side

Mon, Mar 6, 2023, 10:00 PM
NT Rugby
by NT Rugby

It was good company first and rugby second when the annual Darwin Masters 10s rolled into Marrara last weekend.

The 2023 tournament saw 12 teams from across the Territory plus a few interstate talents from Queensland dust off the boots after Friday’s traditional long lunch and re-live their glory days at Rugby Park.

Tournament organiser and Friends of NT Rugby president Bruce Kennon said the two-day event has become a key social point for rugby lovers and old mates alike.

“We lost our Fijian travelling teams and a few Queensland blokes this year just with the fallout from COVID but it was still a good turnout with boys from Katherine & Alice coming along plus a few from over the border,” Kennon said.

“This was our eighth year running the tournament and it’s just a good way to see the lighter side of rugby because it doesn’t always have to be a bash each other up kind of deal.

“The teams are all mixed up too so there’s players from different clubs getting to know each other socially and as teammates.”

This year’s Heineken Long Lunch was held at the Hilton Double Tree and headlined by rugby commentator Mick Colliss before the weekend’s matches kicked off across two divisions – aptly named “Have a Crack” (Division 1) and “Just for Fun” (Division 2).

“At the end of the day, we’re just about having fun - that’s what rugby’s all about and that’s what the Masters is all about.”

Men's Semi Finals + Women's Round 16 Fixtures - Rugby Park

2:45pm - Casuarina v Swampdogs (Men's B-Grade Minor Semi Final)

4:00pm - Darwin Dragons v Palmerston (Women's Round 16)

4:15pm - Uni Pirates v Katherine (Men's B-Grade Major Semi Final)

5:00pm - Uni Pirates v Casuarina (Women's Round 16)

5:45pm - Uni Pirates v Palmerston (Men's A-Grade Minor Semi Final)

7:30pm - Casuarina v South Darwin (Men's A-Grade Major Semi Final)

However, there's a time and place for serious competition which kicks off this weekend with the Darwin major semi finals.

South Darwin laid down a massive statement ahead of the XXXX A-Grade playoffs after defeating unbeaten Casuarina in a Round 15 thriller at Rugby Park.

But coach Jack Forrest was quick to take the underdog tag against Luigi Andreoli’s minor premiers ahead of Saturday's major semifinal with the winner securing a grand final berth.

“We still feel as though Cougars and all teams at the top can knock each other off on their day, so we’re not going to be seduced by that (Round 15) win - there's plenty to play for and Cougars will be up for it," Forrest said.

The result condemned Uni Pirates to third place despite their 17-10 away win over Palmerston in Round 15 with the two sides preparing for a must-win minor semi final this weekend.

The NT Nitumen & Asphalt B-Grade finals are also shaping up nicely with Swampdogs' 6-0 win over Katherine in Saturday night's make-up fixture clinching a minor semi-final berth.

Katherine's bonus point saw them cling to second place and earn a major semi-final showdown with pacesetters Uni Pirates while Swampdogs will clash with Casuarina in this weekend's minor semi final.

Meanwhile it's still Dragons first and daylight second in the Darwin women's competition with one round remaining. The Dragons have won 11 on the trot and are short odds to bank an undefeated regular season when they face face fourth-placed Palmerston on Saturday before Uni Pirates and Casuarina go toe-to-toe.