Eastwood Preview Round 15
By Paul Treanor
There are just two words for this week preview – Eastwood and University. Just the mention of these two great rivals tells you you’re in for a great afternoon of rugby as they have always risen to the occasion when they face off on the rugby pitch. Can’t wait for Saturday. Grade will be going to the Sydney University home ground to face the four University sides. Meanwhile it is Ladies Day at Millner when Colts host the young guns from University. Out of nowhere giant killers Eastern Suburbs caused the second biggest upset of the season putting the first loss on Manly and injecting a shot of vitamin B into the Club Championship. The results over the weekend sees University leap-frog Manly into first place leading by a slim 20 point margin. Eastwood remain in third now 69 points behind Manly. This week the leader board could change again depending on the outcome of the Eastwood and University clash along with the result from Manly’s game against Randwick. Colts retain third place in the Colts Championship however Norths have increased their lead to 54 points. Southern Districts are 10 points behind them and Manly another 7 behind Souths. The pressure is building as we head into the final rounds in both Championships. In the try scoring department John Grant has taken a one try lead over James Martin while the big improver was Tyler Spitz getting a double against Randwick and moving him up to 7th place.
Grade 4th Grade 1st Place
Eastwood showed why they are sitting at the top Fourths ladder with a 40 – 5 win over Randwick letting in just a single try – the first in three weeks. An outstanding performance that they will be looking to repeat this weekend. The side has just two changes to the one that played Randwick. Robbie Hendricks returns from Thirds and replaces Sam Bennetts while Xavier Chigwidden, who missed last week, returns at the expense of Mitch Magrath. University are sitting in third place. Both teams have lost just two games but Eastwood have scored 9 more bonus points giving them the number one position on the ladder. Last time they met at Millner is was a 5 – 7 loss to the Tropics with both teams scoring just the one try. It was the second loss in a row for Eastwood and since then they have come back with a vengeance winning their last five games and only conceding 13 points over the last four weeks. University haven’t lost since round five when they went down to Warringah 13 – 21. This will be a game that will go to the last second and will come down to the team that makes the least mistakes while taking advantage of opportunities as they are presented. There will be no place for the faint hearted.
3rd Grade equal 4th Place
A win was expected but the score line? An 81 – 24 win over the team that was coming second was an outstanding effort for the reigning premiers and sent a warning shot across the bow of the competition. The loss drops Randwick back one place on the ladder while Eastwood sits just three points behind them on equal points with Warringah. The pressure is building as Eastwood hit form at the right end of the season. There is just the one change for the team taking on the competition leaders this weekend. Nick Johnson drops back from Seconds and replaces Robbie Hendricks in the pack. University have only lost twice this season and one of those was against Eastwood when they went down 29 – 45. Their other loss was to Randwick who beat them 19 – 17 the following week. Since then they have won four in a row and will want to make amends for the loss earlier this year. Eastwood have scored 197 points to 52 over the last three weeks and in their current mood University will have a battle on their hands. Other games to have an impact on the ladder this Saturday is the Manly and Randwick clash and the game between Warringah and Souths. An important round for Thirds this weekend.
2nd Grade 1st Place
The competition remains intense with the top three sides still capable of taking out first place. Eastwood can put some distance between themselves and third placed University with a victory this Saturday. They have yet to lose a game and the closest they came was a 31 All draw with University back in Round 9. George Kent returns for this important clash adding extra experience to the pack and is the only change to the side. University, in addition to the draw with Eastwood have lost to Manly and Gordon. They have been putting on some big scores against their opponents in recent weeks and will fancy themselves against the competition leaders. You can never tell in these match ups but Eastwood have been the benchmark this year and will not want to relinquish first place this close to the finals.
1st Grade 3rd Place
This week is an intriguing round for First Grade with all games except Norths and Penrith having an influence on the ladder. The competition is now clearly split into two groups with the top four fighting it out for final positions, while five teams battle for the final two places. Again the fate of ladder positions comes down to bonus points and will do so over the remaining four weeks. The side this week is unchanged from the one who prevailed over Randwick in Armageddon conditions last Saturday. This week’s clash with University is one of the most important of the season to date. The winner will challenge for second while the loser will come away in fourth place having then to rely on other results in the remaining rounds to improve on this placing. Both sides have been steadily improving since they last meet and will want to get on top heading into the finals. Eastwood are just one of three sides that have beaten University and the 36 – 15 victory over them earlier in the season will give the Students added incentive to make amends at their home ground this time round. The Eastwood side has finally had some consistency in personnel in recent weeks developing combinations that has shown in the results. Both sides are capable of a win and both have it all to play for so Eastwood will have to be at their best to take the points. Eastwood’s defence was outstanding last Saturday and will need to be repeated as University showed against West Harbour they are a dangerous attacking unit. Eastwood has the ability to attack from anywhere on the field and have a number of potent attacking weapons that will test the University defence that conceded some soft tries last Saturday. This should be another top quality game between the two top sides of the Shute Shield over the last decade.
3rd Grade Colts 2nd Place
It doesn’t get any bigger than one plays two and we have just that match up to kick off Colts Ladies Day at Millner. Last Saturday they held Randwick scoreless running out winners 24 – 0. The only other team to do this to Randwick is this week’s opponents University who had a 26 – 0 win back in Round 10. The sides drew 19 All last time they met and they have both dominated this competition. University have an impressive 307 points differential and have the best attacking and defensive record for Colts Thirds. Eastwood have not scored as many points but have only allowed an extra 21 points to be scored against them. The two teams will kick off a great Ladies Day of Rugby and the game will be worth the price of admission alone.
2nd Grade Colts 3rd Place
Colts Seconds also have a big clash when they take on second place University. University are nine points ahead of them on the table and an Eastwood win here will get them closer to a possible second place finish. A loss will open the door for the winner of the Manly and Randwick clash to get within striking distance of them. Again another important contest that will consolidate Eastwood’s position should they win. It is a big task though as University have only lost the two games – both to competition leader Northern Suburbs. Eastwood lost 22 – 35 when they last played scoring 4 tries to their 5. The game is there for Eastwood to win but they will need to play at their best for the whole game. Last week they were almost run down by Randwick after dominating the early part of the game. They will be punished if they do it against the strong University side.
1st Grade Colts 6th Place
Eastwood loss to Randwick last week sees them drop back two places. A further loss this week could see them drop out of the Six. They sit just two points ahead of Eastern Suburbs who are expected to win against last placed Gordon. Winning against the competition leaders will require a huge turn around from how they played last week against Randwick. University have a reputation for leaking points believing they can outscore the opposition. If Eastwood can recover from the loss last week and take advantage of University’s defensive lapses they could cause a huge upset. They will at the same time need to lift defensively and cut out unforced errors against a dominant attacking Unit or it could end ugly.