Eastwood Preview Round 15
Vs West Harbour
Grade Concord Oval
Colts T.G. Millner
By Paul Treanor
Last time we met: Round 3
Won 20 – 7
Draw 22 all
Won 33 – 10
Won 17 – 15
Won 20 – 13
Lost 15 – 28
Won 22 – 0
4th Grade – 3rd Place
A loss by Eastern Suburbs saw Eastwood move up one place on the ladder to be just one point behind 2nd placed Northern Suburbs. University are eight points ahead of Eastwood in 1st place and are going to be hard to catch with just four rounds left, but not impossible. But first things first. Second place is up for grabs and full five points for this weeks game against West Harbour will be a the goal on Saturday ahead of next week’s clash with Eastern Suburbs. Northern Suburbs take on 5th placed Manly and will not have it all their own way. Manly beat them 19 – 18 on the June long weekend and playing at home will fancy their chances of again taking the points.
Less team changes this week as we get closer to the finals and the travellers move to the departure lounge. The Ferris brothers swap again at Hooker. Heath Toon drops back from Thirds replacing David Fangaloka at Prop and Adrian Wyper returns to the run on side in place of Sam Bennetts. Phil Pale, who was listed to start at Half Back last Round but was replaced by Taylor Mathieson, returns to the starting side and Malakai Koroi takes over at 13 for Tyrone Tadros.
West Harbour are in 8th place and will need a lot of results to go their way if they are to close the 14 point gap between them and 6th place. They will be playing sudden death football and will give Eastwood a tough encounter to kick things off at Concord Oval. Eastwood know they have a chance to finish higher on the ladder and will have too much fire power for the Pirates.
3rd Grade – 1st Place
Thirds continue to set the pace at the head of the ladder. Eastwood, University, and Eastern Suburbs continue to occupy the top of the ladder and are 7 points clear of 4th placed Northern Suburbs. Four teams are in the mix for the final three places in the finals. One of those is Randwick who are currently 6th. Their clash with Eastern Suburbs is one they need to win to stay in touch with Norths and Warringah, both of whom have easier matches.
Ed Craig made his Grade debut at Hooker against Penrith unfortunately it was a game of uncontested scrums not giving him a chance to display his talents. Ed moves back to Colts 1 for their important clash with West Harbour and Myles Hunkin returns to the side in his place. Dean Doumbos, who missed last week, comes back into the Third Grade Front Row replacing Heath Toon.
Thirds decided to hand the goal kicking duties to Jack Tourish last week and he didn’t disappoint the coaches with 17 conversions topped off with four tries. Jack’s point scoring feast took him to the lead in Thirds 11 points ahead of Nick O’Connor who played Seconds. Woodies holding 1st and 2nd places for the whole competition is a major feat.
With Randwick taking on Eastern Suburbs, 7th placed West Harbour know a win over Eastwood and a loss by Randwick will see them move into 6th place. Wests are only 6 points behind 4th place and are well in contention for a finals birth. But Eastwood will be a hard nut to crack and will prove too strong for the competitive Pirates, who have ex-Eastwoodian Ben Abood at Fly Half.
2nd Grade – 3rd Place
Eastwood remain in 3rd place in what has been a close competition all season. Some upsets can be expected over the next four weeks. This week the match of the round will be Eastwood Vs West Harbour, while Parramatta will want to keep their hopes of a play off spot alive when they take on Gordon.
There is only one change to the side this week. Rob Lagudi strengthens the pack as he comes in to get some extra game time and replaces Coren Shore at Tighthead.
Nick O’Connor scored four tries last weekend and retains the lead for most tries in all competitions. Max Page, who has missed four games through injury, has the second highest points tally in Second Grade just 11 points behind Thomas Hiddleston from Randwick.
West Harbour are in 6th place seven ahead of Eastern Suburbs and will not want to drop another game at this stage of the competition. Eastwood has been on a steady upward path and starting to hit form at the right end of the season. A 1st or 2nd finish is the first priority for Eastwood and a win this week will keep pressure on the teams ahead of them on the ladder. Too much at stake for Eastwood to falter at this stage of the competition.
1st Grade – 2nd Place
Manly will be feeling Eastwood’s hot breath on the back of their necks knowing one slip up and Eastwood will jump ahead of them. It will more than likely come down to bonus points. Both sides have formidable opponents this week. While Eastwood take on West Harbour Manly are up against Northern Suburbs. The Southern Districts and University game is another game were the result could see changes to positions on the ladder. Another great round in the Shute Shield.
Hugh Roach unavailability last week meant the versatile Sam Needs come into the side at Hooker. This week Hugh is available and Sam is on the bench along side Todd Pearce. Marty Plokstys, who missed last week, is back in the Front Row. The rest of the side is unchanged. Joey Afualo had a memorable debut with a try and a yellow card, while Arthur “Junior” Carrie, who has been impressing in lower grades, made his First Grade debut from the bench.
Ben Batger continues to lead the pack in the point scoring race taking his tally to 249 points. John Grant is the leading try scorer in First Grade with 12 tries just one ahead of Warringah’s Josh Holmes.
West Harbour had a disappointing loss to University last week going down 31 – 41. They staged a late comeback but it was not enough to get over the Students. They have made a number of changes to last week’s side. Australian Under 20 representative Cameron Orr gets a start at Tighthead replacing David Lolohea. Chris Simons comes in to partner Captain Tom Games in the Second Row, while Nela Manu takes the No 6 jumper. With Henry Seavula out of the Centres there has been a backline reshuffle with Graeme Kolomalu coming into the side on the Wing. The much travelled “Brazilian” David Harvey, who has returned to First Grade two weeks ago, will play Full Back.
Wests have had a few good wins this year against more fancied sides but have not been able to maintain it week in week out. It was a try a piece back in Round 3 and Eastwood are well aware of what the Pirates are capable of when they are on song. Wests are sitting in 8th and are now nine points out of the six and in danger of missing the finals. This week it is a must win for the Pirates in what should be a very competitive game with Eastwood proving to be too strong across the full 80 minutes and with the Minor Premiership within reach.
Colts 3 – 7th Place
Another missed opportunity against a side who had only won one game before Saturday. Eastwood dropped back to 7th after Eastern Suburbs victory over Manly. They are on equal points with 8th placed West Harbour, a team they lost to in Round 3. Warringah and University did us a favour by recording victories over Souths and Wests thus keeping Eastwood final hopes alive but we can’t keep relying on others. With chances running out it is important Eastwood get the points over West Harbour this Saturday in what should be a tight contest.
Colts 2 – 8th Place
Penrith made it two wins against Eastwood this season and in the process leap frogged them into 7th place as well as putting doubt in Eastwood finals chances. Now six points behind 6th placed Eastern Suburbs this week’s clash with 9th place West Harbour is a must win. With the season on the line for both sides it will come down to who wants it the most and who has the most pride in the jumper.
Colts 1 – 6th Place
Eastwood moved into the six after results of matches last weekend. Warringah defeat of Southern Districts was unexpected and shows upsets in this competition are possible. Northern Suburbs victory over Gordon puts Eastwood within four points of 4th place and a chance this weekend to move up one place should Randwick, as expected, beat Eastern Suburbs. Another loss by Gordon will give Eastwood a crack at 4th.
Ed Craig who had a taste of Grade last weekend will be back to lead the pack in this important clash. Team changes sees James Bamford come into the side at 7 in place of Zac Simpson. Lachlan Burland, who has been in the No. 13 for the entire season, has succumb to injury and is out of the team – replaced by Winger James Sarks who missed the game against Manly.
Eastwood have 10th placed West Harbour, who have just three wins and a draw, this week. With only four games to go and important clashes against Eastern Suburbs and Randwick coming up this is a game Eastwood must win and will win if they bring their A game and attitude.
After Randwick’s and University’s perfect weekend and Eastwood dropping two Colts games our lead in the club championship has been reduced to just five points. Randwick are up against Eastern Suburbs this weekend and University take on Southern Districts. It will be hard to see them drop any points from Colts this weekend so again it will come down to results in Grade. We will need to perform well across all seven games and maximise points.