2015 Grand Final
By Paul Treanor
Venue Concord Oval GRADEKICK OFF
10.50 amEastern SuburbsFirsts
And then there were two. Two is the magic number. We are down to the last two sides in each competition. Eastwood have two teams representing us with Third and First Grade. It is Thirds chance to emulate our team of ’13 and make it two wins in three years, while our First Grade side will be looking to go back-to-back with two wins in two years. Two of our champions, Ben Batger and Hugh Perrett, will entertain us for the last time; looking to finish their successful Rugby careers with a Grand Final win.
It’s a lot of twos and it will be great to finish it off with two premierships.
3rd Grade Vs Eastern Suburbs
Last Sunday as Eastwood warmed up the Wingers Curse again hit. Mark Frost hamstring had had enough ruling him out. It was just as well Ben Coady had surprised the coaching staff by declaring himself sufficiently recovered from his finger injury and available for selection if required. Ben was hastily handed the 14 jumper, running on for his first game since playing Southern Districts. Get one back and another moves to the disabled list.
Eastwood come into the Grand Final after a hard fought win over a dogged Northern Suburbs side. It was a game worthy of a preliminary final. Eastwood once again weathered the early storm producing another dominate display in both attack and defence. They scored five tries to two resulting in a final scoreline of 33 – 18. The only disappointing note was the conversion of only one of those five tries. Leading Thirds points scorer Jack Tourish will need to bring his kicking boots to the Grand Final.
Last Saturday Eastern Suburbs jumped out to an early lead only to be run down by University. With scores locked up at 19 all and time almost up replacement William Maddocks kicked a field goal after the bell to take the game 21 – 19 and book a place in the Grand Final. The next day Maddocks was again the hero booting a penalty to level things up against Southern Districts allowing the team to advance to the Grand Final. Eastern Suburbs have finished the year strongly in the lower grades as a by-product of their extensive recruiting program at the start of the season.
Eastwood played Eastern Suburbs twice this season. The first time was a catch up game played at Blackman Park on the Sunday after playing Northern Suburbs on the previous day. Easts won that encounter 28 – 14. The return match in Round 16 at Woollahra Oval was a truncated affair with the sickening head clash to Joel Whitlock that held up the game for a considerable amount of time. Eastwood came away 12 – 7 winners and Joel came away with a new appreciation of communicating with his team mates when tackling. Joel has fully recovered and will take his place in the side this weekend after missing just two rounds.
Eastwood scored 800 points in the regular season and had just 166 scored against. A points differential of 634 whereas Eastern Suburbs differential is next best at 345. While Eastwood had just the one loss Eastern Suburbs had three losses and two draws. Easts have been one of the contenders in Thirds throughout the season and will provide a worthy opponent for Eastwood this Saturday.
The loss by Seconds last Sunday has a silver lining. Both Rhys Allen and Mick Tamone are now available to play in Thirds for the Grand Final. Both have been in great form before their call up to Seconds. Rhys comes into pack in place of Matt Prestipino and Mick replaces Dave Konstanto. Ben Coady has again been named on the other Wing. Mark Frost trained well on Tuesday and at this stage has been pencilled in on the bench.
Eastern Suburbs has made just the one change to their side that took the field last Saturday with Will Rayner coming in on the Wing in place of Guy Robinson. Jerome Mackenzie was listed to play last week against University but didn’t take the field and his place was taken by Daniel Gallagher who retains the Full Back spot. The side is somewhat changed to the one Eastwood played back in Round 16 with eight new faces in the team.
Eastwood have the side and game to win this contest but know it still needs to be won on the paddock. They have the added experience of Nick Johnson in the Pack who played in the winning 2013 side. Also there on that day were Mark Frost and Daniel Minto while David Fangaloka was on the bench.
It should be a very entertaining game of Finals football and we need as much support as we can muster to get down to Concord to encourage this excellent team representing Eastwood.
1st Grade Vs Manly
Both Manly and Eastwood had come from behind wins last weekend in what were impressive displays of Shute Shield Rugby we all love to watch. Both teams have been the frontrunners for the last two seasons and it will be a fitting finale to the 2015 season.
Manly have been knocking on the door the last few years only to fall short. It was noticeable in the post match interview with their Captain Matt Lucas how much emotional energy was needed to take this next step. Only time will tell how that will effect their effort on Saturday. You have to go back to 1997 for Manly’s last Grand Final appearance, when they also played Eastwood. On that occasion they won 34 – 19. Since then Eastwood have made eight appearances, winning five. All that’s history as these two teams line up to see which side is the best on Grand Final day 2015.
The sides met twice during the regular season with each getting a home ground win. Manly won 41 – 18 back in Round 9 in May while Eastwood turned the tables at Millner with a 43 -16 win five weeks later. While both sides have lost key players to injury and overseas opportunities they also have strong depth. With both Seconds losing last weekend they will have fresh reserves to call upon for their respective benches.
While the press has focused on Wycliff Palu it was the rest of the Manly pack that got over the top of the Waratah impregnated University Forwards. Their dominant performance again showing the beauty of the Shute Shield style of Rugby over what Brett Papworth coined Collision Rugby that Super Rugby produces.
Eastwood Forwards were also impressive in their performance against Southern Districts. They have taken their game to the next level. It will be a battle royale between these two packs this Saturday.
Both Clubs have nominated unchanged sides. Eastwood have their Super Bench in place to back up their starting 15. Eastwood have the experience in Grand Finals with the bulk of this year’s side there to hold up the Shute Shield last year. Manly will be looking to repeat what their Club did back in 1997 but how will they handle the first time pressure of the Grand Final and coming up against Eastwood away from Manly? They will also have to overcome the added incentive of Eastwood wanting to send Hugh and Ben off in fine style.
It will be a mighty battle between the best two teams this year. Both sides are evenly matched across the park. It will be a fitting finale to the 2015 Shute Shield.
Good Luck to both the Eastwood sides this Saturday. We will be there supporting you in your quest for a premiership.