Shoalhaven winger Mark Brandon offloads to prop Kyle Harrison, who went on to score against University on Saturday. Picture: ANDY ZAKELITwo-time reigning champions Vikings have squandered their last chance for a crack at a third straight title.
Needing a pair of wins over the final two rounds, the Blueys crashed out of finals contention with Saturday’s surprise 43-31 home loss to also-rans Kiama.
Regardless of what happens in this weekend’s final round, Vikings are destined to finish sixth.
The battle for fifth spot seemed certain to go down to the wire, but the final five has been decided a week earlier than expected.
All that remains to be determined is the play-offs’ pecking order.
Avondale (70 points) and Tech Waratahs (62) locked up the top two spots weeks ago, while University (47), Shamrocks (43) and Shoalhaven (42) occupy third, fourth and fifth.
But that could change.
University grabbed their opportunity with an emphatic 42-17 home win over Shoalhaven on Saturday.
All the Mallee Bulls have to do is beat Camden at Camden in the final round to be assured of third spot.
Even if they lose, a bonus point might be enough to keep the Bulls from dropping a spot.
Shoalhaven are almost certain to finish on 47 points, but they can’t match Uni’s imposing for-and-against differential.
Fourth-placed Shamrocks will be fired up to give Vikings a thrashing this weekend.
The Rocks can drop to fifth if they lose. Victory could lift them to third if Camden upset Uni.
Shammies went down for the second successive week on Saturday, losing 27-15 to Tech Waratahs at Saunders Oval.
Shamrocks scored a couple of unconverted tries before Tech Tahs five-eighth Lee Martin put the result beyond doubt with a late penalty goal.
Martin was typically prominent, scoring two tries and kicking three conversions and two penalties for a personal haul of 22 points.
In Saturday’s other game Avondale were never troubled against Camden.
They cruised to an easy 52-12 triumph.
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