Eastwood Preview Round 14
Grade T. G. Millner Field
Colts Nepean Rugby Park
By Paul Treanor
Last time we met: Round 6
Won 48 – 3
Won 92 – 0
Lost 15 – 22
Won 119 – 0
Won 26 – 7
Won 62 – 7
This week’s opposition are sitting last in all Grades and are yet to record a win. Their Colts 1 side has withdrawn, Colts 3 have just the one win and are sitting at the bottom of the ladder while Colts 2 are their only hope of making the finals and are placed 9th with four wins, just three points out of the six.
Eastwood have made it though the tough part of their draw with all Grade sides sitting in the top four. Firsts dropped just the two games over this seven round period which is an excellent result as we head into the last five rounds. Unfortunately Colts did not have the same level of success but are still in the hunt for finals football.
4th Grade – 4th Place
It was smiles all round for the Coaching Staff and Players after Saturday’s win over Southern Districts. Keeping Souths to zero didn’t go unnoticed. With Eastern Suburbs upsetting University Eastwood are now just eight behind the competition leaders. Third placed Northern Suburbs and first placed University have relatively easy encounters this week with the game between Easts and Manly the one attracting the most interest.
With the season drawing to an end it is another opportunity to rotate players this weekend with a number of changes across the park. Tom Ellem played his last game for the club for a while last Saturday as he heads off to Canada for at least two years. Mark Frost had a successful full game against Manly and with the loss of wingers higher up the food chain finds himself playing in Thirds and Nick Tregoning returns to Full Back.
It is a timely return by Mark with the loss of Ben Coady for the season and with his second concussion this year, Ben Shorter will be missing from the action for an unspecified number of weeks. Nick Batger is still a few weeks away from returning from his broken foot. Our specialist wing stock is looking a little depleted.
3rd Grade – 1st Place
Thirds had a character building encounter with Manly repelling the invaders within 5 metres of their line with only 13 men for the last 10 minutes. The result keeps them seven points ahead of second on the ladder. Eastern Suburbs’ loss to University sees them drop back to Third with University moving ahead by one point. These three sides are setting the pace in this competition. This week University are up against West Harbour who are sitting in fifth. University were winners when they met in Round 9 but Wests have had three good wins since then and will be looking to reverse the tables.
For the Penrith clash Heath Toon comes up from Fourths to replace Coren Shore in the Front Row. Mark Frost moves up one grade to take the Wing spot vacated by Nick O’Connor and a reshuffle of the Backline with Jack Tourish moving into the Centres, Mick Tamone to Full Back and Dave Sutton to the Wing.
Nick O’Connor added two more tries keeping him in the lead for most tries and top point scorer in Thirds.
2nd Grade – 3rd Place
Seconds had a horror start to the game with a mountainous penalty count, two penalty tries, yellow cards and little possession – and that was just the first half. They had a try scored against them almost from the kick off of the second half but they remained patient and with increased possession they got the game back to even before a late Manly try sank them. Another game that Eastwood were well in until the death. The two bonus points were well deserved and give Eastwood a four point break on Warringah despite the Rats having one less loss. Eastwood are just five points behind competition leaders Randwick.
Manly take on a desperate Easts this week as they are in danger of dropping behind the top six. The same will apply to Parramatta, who are on the same points as Easts, when they try and cause an upset against Randwick. Also in the battle for fifth and sixth the University clash with West Harbour will have an impact on the ladder. Some vital games this week in Seconds.
This week Coren Shore moves into the front row replacing the injured Dean Doumbos, George Kent is back from exams coming into the side at 8 for the promoted Joey Afualo and Nick O’Connor gets a chance to weave his try scoring magic in Seconds replacing the promoted Brad Curtis.
1st Grade – 2nd Place
Eastwood’s victory over Manly, that included a bonus point, sees them move to within a point of first place. If the victory over Northern Suburbs a few weeks back was not enough to send a warning to the rest of the competition than this win over Manly will surely have them sitting up and taking notice. The win brought Manly’s winning streak to an end one short of their record 13 wins set way back in 1997. University also sent a clear message they are back in town with their 44 – 0 win over Eastern Suburbs, who must be the most disappointing team of this season. West Harbour also showed they intent to be part of the finals with their 36 – 10 win over Randwick.
There are a number of key match ups this weekend. The match of the round with be third placed Southern Districts taking on fourth placed Warringah. Both have been in fine form recently and should provide a game of top level of rugby. University will be wanting to prove their win over Easts wasn’t a one off in their re-match with West Harbour who shocked them last time they met. Both Northern Suburbs and Gordon need to win their match if they are to have a chance of playing finals football.
With the return of Hugh Roach and Jed Gillespie last week the Coach has the luxury of giving Sam Needs and Marty Plokstys a well earned rest on the bench, though I am sure both would be happier playing. Jed certainly needs the game time to get his Melbourne holiday out of his system. With Ben Shorter out Brad Curtis comes in to replace him on the Wing. The big question over the last few weeks has been who will replace Pat Sio with many opinions expressed by the Eastwood faithful. And the answer is Joey Afualo, who gets his chance to impress in the Number 8 jumper in his first run debut for Eastwood.
Ben Batger continues to lead the pack in the point scoring race adding another 18 points and taking his tally over the 200 points mark.
Colts 3 – 6th Place
Wednesday night proved a tough outing for Colts 3 with Manly running out victors 18 – 3. A loss that will add pressure to keeping 6th spot on the ladder. Fifth placed Southern Districts are now five points ahead while seventh placed West Harbour are on equal points and Parramatta a further two points back. Souths play Warringah in a game they should win. Both Wests and Parramatta have games against top sides making this week’s game against Penrith a must win affair as it should give Eastwood some breathing space in this tight contest.
Colts 2 – 7th Place
It was a game they needed to win against a team in the bottom third of the ladder that unfortunately resulted in another disappointing loss on Tuesday night. Eastwood remains in 7th just two points behind Eastern Suburbs and have some difficult games ahead including this weekend against Penrith. The Manly game was an vital miss.
With Eastern Suburbs taking on Manly it is critical Eastwood get a win against Penrith. Eastwood gave Penrith their first win of the season back in Round 6 and they are sitting just one point behind Eastwood on the ladder. West Harbour who are on equal points with Eastwood play the competition leaders making this week’s round another important one for the sides trying to make the finals.
Colts 1 – 7th Place
This week – Bye, Five Free Points.
Eastern Suburbs and Parramatta showed what desperation is with wins over University and Southern Districts respectively and put some excitement into the ladder. Eastwood also showed they want to figure in the finals with one of their best performances of the year in what was an important game under lights on Tuesday. The win elevates them one place of the ladder on equal points with Southern Districts and three points behind Eastern Suburbs. With the five guaranteed points from this round the pressure will be on Easts and Souths to record bonus point wins to keep in the contest. It should be an intense last four rounds in the race for the finals.
Eastwood jumped to the lead 22 points clear of Randwick after last rounds results. Third placed University continues to threaten and are only 17 points behind Randwick and Manly still in fourth but now 173 behind University. This week Randwick take on Parramatta while University are up against the fast improving West Harbour.