Eastwood Preview Round 13
By Paul Treanor
A successful day for our Grade sides at North Sydney Oval last Saturday but alas not so for our Colts with both Firsts and Seconds going down to the strong Northern Suburbs sides. Colts 3 completed the Round on Tuesday night coming away with a win. Their game was postponed due to North Sydney Council not allowing more than two games on the main ground. With no games at Millner the ground got an opportune break from the constant pounding of rugby players. John Grant had a big day out against Norths scoring a hat trick of tries taking his tally to 13 so far this season just one try behind the Club’s leading try scorer James Martin, who scored one try in Third Grade last Saturday. How will they go this weekend with plenty of scoring opportunities on offer?
The strong clubs continue to win most grades making it difficult to erode the lead in the Club Championship. Colts have a battle on their hands in the Colts Club Championship. Norths are now 34 points ahead of them while Randwick are sitting just 32 points behind them. All we can do is to keep putting our best out there each week and wait for others to slip up. Saturday saw the same club win all four grades in the six games played. An indication of the haves and have-nots of Sydney Premiership Rugby.
This week our opponents, Gordon, are among the have-nots and are second last in the Club Championship with teams at the bottom of all competitions except Second Grade. The big challenge this week will be to make sure we win the game on the park and not go out there assuming we have already won. The other challenge will be to get to the ground at the right time as games starting times have changed due to the Saturday afternoon test being played in Sydney so check below for when the games kick off. If you are not going to the game you can stay and watch the test in the Club House at the conclusion of First Grade.
This week Grade are hosts back at Millner, while Colts are visitors at Chatswood Oval.
4th Grade 1st Place
11.50am on Millner Back Oval.
The 48 – 0 win over Northern Suburbs last Saturday sees Eastwood excellent season continue, scoring eight tries in the process and probably even more impressive for the coaching staff was their defence that did not allow a single point to be scored against them.
Published team lists are not always the same as the team that takes the field. Much can happen between Tuesday and Saturday. This week’s published team has Daniel Minto back into the front row after coming off the bench in both Fourths and Thirds last week. Luke Ferris moves into hooker replacing Murray Scoles and Robbie Hendricks returns from helping out Third Grade. Xavier Chigwidden who has been out injured for the last three weeks returns at fly half replacing Ben Abood. Tyler Spitz who had to be assisted from the field in the Third Grade game against Warringah makes his speedy return in the centres. Finally, Jack Philp comes back into the side on the wing.
This week’s opposition have not had a win this season and have just two bonus points to their name. They have a massive negative points differential of 377 and are averaging less than nine points a game. Back in Round 2 it was 48 – 0 to Eastwood and they should prove to be too strong again this time round.
3rd Grade equal 4th Place
10.25am Millner Main Oval
The 52 -21 win over Northern Suburbs erased the disappointment from the close loss to Warringah the previous week. As with Fourths they scored eight tries of which six were converted while limiting Norths to just three tries. The win and other results puts Eastwood level on points with Warringah.
This week’s side sees Murray Scoles up from Fourths to replace Bleddyn Gant at hooker. Lachie Parker, Robbie Hendricks and Paul Ng Shiu make way for the returning Matt Prestipino, Nick Johnson and Jordan Goddard in the forwards while the backs remain the same as last week’s run on team.
Gordon has only won three games this year one of which was the Second Round upset 19 – 10 over Eastwood. At that stage Gordon looked to have the makings of a good Third Grade side but they have failed to live up to this expectation. Eastwood will not want to come second again against this side who sit in 10th place. Eastwood have been a little hot and cold this year but have only lost one of their last six and seem to be hitting form at the right end of the season. A strong win here will be just what the Coach ordered. With an important clash with second placed Randwick the following week they will want to make a statement against the under performing Gordon side.
2nd Grade 1st Place
11.50am Millner Main Oval
Second Grade maintained their undefeated status with another dominant display scoring nine tries of which Pierre converted five in their 55 – 19 win over Northern Suburbs last Saturday. They have achieved a four try bonus point in all of their games this season which has given them a buffer over second placed Manly.
With Jared Barry returning to the run on side in First Grade last Saturday James Neale played in Seconds against Norths. He is again in the team this week along side the returning Tom Alexander. The forward pack this week looks impressive full of players with First Grade experience and should set a solid platform for the backs, who remain unchanged from last week’s team.
They will have the toughest game of the day as Gordon Second Grade has been by far their most successful side this season. They sit in fourth place with eight wins to their credit. Eastwood beat them on the bell by a single point back in April and so Gordon will be thinking they have a chance of springing a surprise. They also had a win over University this year and show they are not intimidated by the stronger clubs. This is the game of the day at Millner. It should be a contest for the full 80 minutes with Eastwood finishing the stronger and retaining first place.
1st Grade 3rd Place
1.25pm Millner Main Oval
With the top sides continuing to win the gap between four and fifth has now widened to 10 points. The question now is what order will the top four finish and bonus points will play a big part in resolving that question. With Warringah failing to score four tries in their win over Randwick and with Eastwood and University both registering bonus point wins the gap has narrowed on second place. Eastwood is now just one point behind Warringah while University is within striking distance just three points behind Eastwood. With the three sides battling it out for second place playing two of the top four sides in the final rounds the charge to the finals is building into an interesting one. Meanwhile a major slip up by Manly, although extremely doubtful, could add another dimension to the final placings. With bonus points critical Eastwood cannot afford to take the foot out the throat of the teams they play in the remaining six rounds.
The game last Saturday showed the Coach had just- cause to be wary of Northern Suburbs who showed for ten minutes in each half what they are capable of delivering if they could stick to it for whole game. They came within six points early in the second half but Eastwood came to play for the full 80 minutes and stuck to the task at hand resulting in a 56 – 26 win. The special jumpers worn by Norths were a little confusing for Ben Batger who managed to throw more passes to Norths players than his brother Nick. Let’s hope Gordon don’t apply the same tactic this week. It was pleasing to see the Coach give up and coming half Andrew Ferris a run in the last minutes of the game.
Last week saw Jared Barry come out in the run on side for the first time since injuring himself against Randwick. He again partners Andrew Clyne in the pack. With the services of Benn Robertson available this week before he returns to the Waratahs for their clash with the Brumbies the Coach has taken the opportunity to rest Jed Gillespie who has been impressive at loose head prop this season. Also earning a rest from the front row is Guy Millar whose place has been taken by Dylan Brass who has been coming off the bench in recent weeks following his recovery from the injury he suffered against Penrith back in Round 3. The rest remains the same team that demolished Norths.
Despite all the positive media coverage of the Gordon side this year the reality of their season is there for all to see in the competition ladder. They have just the three wins against their name including a one point win over Eastern Suburbs and a two point win over Randwick. Their other win was last week when they beat Penrith 47 – 20. They will be wanting to register their first back to back wins this season and regain some pride after going down to Eastwood 12 – 70 back in the Round 2. Eastwood with an eye on the finals and that important second place will be all the incentive they need. They have too many big guns across the park for the Highlanders.
3rd Grade Colts 2nd Place
Colts Thirds played their game against Northern Suburbs Tuesday night resulting in a 31 – 15 victory. This was a marked improvement on the 17 – 10 win against the same team in Round 1. The win moves them into Second place just two points less than the competition leaders University. With no points available this week Eastwood can only sit back and watch what happens with the University Norths game. A win by Northern Suburbs will see them join them on 40 points and University remain just ahead of them. A win by University will see them increase their lead to at least 6 points. A game that will have a big bearing on the ladder.
2nd Grade Colts 3rd Place
10.00am Chatswood Oval
The undefeated Northern Suburbs side proved to be a mountain too far last Saturday with the gallant Eastwood side going down 21 – 36. Despite the loss they remain in third place just two points ahead of Randwick who they play the following week.
Gordon had only won three games and are sitting in 10th place. Eastwood beat them 57 – 15 last meeting and should again take the win with a bonus point.
1st Grade Colts 4th Place
11.40am Chatswood Oval
The loss to Northern Suburbs 31 – 41 sees Colts Firsts slip back one place on the ladder just a point ahead of Norths and two points ahead of Eastern Suburbs. With such a tight competition it is vital the team keeps focused and wins the games they should win. This week it is 11th placed Gordon who managed their first win of the season against the win-less Penrith last Saturday. Eastwood beat them 44 – 17 last time they played and will be looking for a repeat performance. The game against second placed Randwick the following week will be a vital clash and a dominating performance against Gordon will set this game up for the side.