Eastwood Preview Round 10
By Paul Treanor
And now for Manly !!
What a fantastic day’s rugby at Millner last Saturday. To say the joint was jumping would be an understatement. Two wins and a draw against University is always a great day. The crowd got right into all the games supporting their clubs in what was a most exciting day of rugby, unlike the Cafe Latte self absorbed crowd at Woollahra Oval the previous week where talking was more important than watching. Millner certainly brings the best out in both players and supporters. With the win in First Grade Steve Cummins had the perfect last game for Eastwood before heading off to play for Eastern Province in the Currie Cup. It is always pleasing to see a member of the Woodies family get an opportunity to expand their rugby careers and we wish him success. Our Colts were less successful with just a draw from their three matches. Following the weekends results we remain in third place on the Club Championship Ladder, 164 points behind Leaders Manly and just 21 behind second placed University. Colts two losses and a draw have pushed them back to third on the Colts Championship Ladder with Norths edging past us by a mere 6 points. This week is a big week for Eastwood with an opportunity to bridge the gap between us and the Club Championship leaders. Manly are also leading First and Second Grade so it will be a challenge, something Eastwood always looks forward to meeting head-on. Grade will take on the Marlins at their home turf Manly Oval, while Colts welcome them to Millner. Another intense day of rugby is assured at both venues and we want as many Eastwood supporters as possible to make the journey to Manly and hopefully find a parking spot within walking distance of the ground. Those who can’t make it Manly Oval get down to Millner to support the Colts as they look to make it three from three against the talented Manly Colts sides.
4th Grade 1st Place
Despite a second loss in a row Fourth Grade retain first place. A hard fought game in very warm conditions against University with both teams scoring one try each, the result came down to goals. Bonus points are having a major influence of team placings and is the reason Eastwood are holding down first place. Manly have incurred three losses, two of which were to the two teams who have beaten Eastwood. Easts beat them 12 – 0 while they went down to University 7 – 19. Their other loss was 6 – 8 against Warringah. This week’s team sees David Rose returning to the side after missing last week while Xavier Chigwidden is out. This has caused a reshuffle of the back line. Ben Abood moves from Full Back to Fly Half, Jack Philp moves from the Wing to Full Back with Peli Lavaka coming back in on the Wing after filling in for Third Grade last week. Based on results and current form Manly should be a tough opponent for the opening game at Manly Oval. Eastwood will be wanting to put the last two games behind them and get their season back on track. A tight game that Eastwood should win considering they have a more settled side this week.
3rd Grade 5th Place
Third Grade have now won three games in a row following their “Resurrection” second half performance last Saturday. What did the Coach say at half time? By far the best performance from Thirds this year beating the previously undefeated competition leaders University 45 – 29. With the loss of Steve Cummins out of the First Grade line up a change is the forwards is necessary with Matt Prestipino promoted to Seconds and is replaced in the team by Richard Casali who is returning after a three week absence. Another player who has been missing through injury is Ben Coady who hasn’t played since Round 4. Ben comes in on the Wing replacing Peli Lavaka, while James Martin drops back from Seconds in place of Brad Curtis at Full Back. University beat Manly 34 – 30 back in Round 4 and their only other loss was 6 – 21 to Warringah leaving them in third place. The defending premiers have shown in the last three weeks they are fighters and if they can repeat last week’s second half for the full 70 minutes at Manly Oval they will make it four from four with a strong possibility of a four try bonus point. With University taking on second place Randwick a win will see Eastwood make ground on those teams above them on the ladder.
2nd Grade 2nd Place
With 10 minutes to go last Saturday it looked like University had revenged their Third Grade side by inflecting the first loss of the season on Eastwood. In a remarkable finale Eastwood ran in three tries with the final conversion coming after the bell rang out from the Grandstand to make it a 31 all draw. Again an Eastwood side who never gave up and had a strong belief in themselves. This week only two changes to last weekend’s side. With James Neale promoted to Firsts Matt Prestipino comes up from Thirds to take his place in the pack, while Brad Curtis comes in for James Martin at Full Back after his successful return from injury in Thirds last week. This week the stakes are raised as we take on the other undefeated team in Seconds, Manly, who are 1 point ahead of Eastwood on the Ladder. Manly beat University 45 – 20 back in Round 4 and have won their last five games by big margins so they will be a formidable opponent. It is going to be the game of the year in Second Grade and will need Eastwood to play to their full potential for the full 80 minutes. Eastwood have been looking forward to this clash for weeks and the result should be in the balance until the final whistle.
1st Grade 3rd Place
The Coach showed it in the way he bounced down the Grandstand with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye as he headed out to join his victorious players who had just inflected the worst loss of the season on University. Apart from Tom Carter’s boots the biggest stand out was the full 80 minutes domination in both defence and attack by the whole team. A team that was still going strong when the referee called an end to proceedings. Changes made last week worked well for the team. Only one change this week with Steve Cummins moving to South Africa, James Neale comes in to take his place in the starting line-up. James has been performing well in Seconds and will be joining a number of his Second Grade mates in the First XV. It is good to see Shanin Proctor has been declared fit after carrying a shoulder injury for most of the second half last week. Manly have been talking up their chances since last September of playing in a Grand Final in 2014 and have been backing that up with outstanding performances on the field. They still remember the game they lost against Eastwood in the Grand Final qualifier last year and are wanting to make amends. They have taken all before them so far this year and are sitting at the top of the Ladder undefeated, but Eastwood is the scalp they want. Eastwood’s 36 – 15 win last Saturday was against a much improved University side than the one Manly narrowly beat 14 – 10 back in Round 4. The side that played Manly did not include Waratah Patrick McCutcheon who started against Eastwood and Waratah Jeremy Tilse who came on around the 20th minute mark. Also missing were Tom Carter’s outstanding new boots. They have been forced to make one change this week to the team that beat Penrith. Captain Ed Gower is out after receiving a red card last Saturday for a lifting tackle and was handed a six game suspension. While Manly are still thinking about what happened in the past while Eastwood are firmly planted in the present. Their challenge will be to come down to earth after last week’s impressive win. Easts showed last week what can happen if you don’t get the mental game right. However, the disappointment over recent poor performances should still be fresh in the Woodies minds and should be enough for them to bring their University game to Manly this Saturday. With both teams having so much to play for it will be a battle of epic proportions and will be one of the games of the year. Providing we get the consistency the Coach is looking for it is hard to go past Eastwood inflicting the first loss of the season on the Marlins.
3rd Grade Colts 2nd Place
A 19 all draw with both sides scoring three tries each sees Thirds remain undefeated and sitting in second place on the ladder. This weeks they take on fifth placed Manly who have lost three games this season. They lost 17 – 20 to Souths, 12 – 33 to Sydney University and 5 – 43 to Norths. Following the draw with University and wins over Souths and Norths, Eastwood should be too strong for the Manly side and with a four try bonus point win will have them just a point behind competition leaders Norths who have their first bye this week.
2nd Grade 4th Colts Place
University were too strong last weekend taking the game 35 – 22 although goal kicking again was disappointing with only one of the four tries being converted. In the end the five converted tries scored by University won the day. Eastwood third loss came after three wins in a row and they will need to bounce back this week against Manly, who have also lost three games and are sitting on the same points. Manly were beaten by University when then clashed 24 – 43 and they have also lost to Souths 10 – 21 and Norths 12 – 34. On these results both teams seem to be reasonably matched as evidenced in the points for and against. A game that could go either way and will go to the team who wants it more. Also impacting on the table will be the second plays third clash between University and Norths. An interesting round for Colts Seconds.
1st Grade Colts 6th Place
Colts Firsts had a battle on their hands last Saturday against the competition leaders and went down 49 – 31. This was their forth loss of the season and they come up against 5th placed Manly this week. Manly have lost three games. They have lost to Souths 21 – 24, Easts 12 – 15 and University 26 – 45. On these results both teams again look evenly matched. Manly however have a better points differential conceding just 20 points a match while scoring an average of 39. Eastwood will need to put their best defensive game in place and look to taking points when they are on offer. Accurate goal kicking will be vital. It will be a tough assignment but so was Southern Districts and we came away with the points on that day.