Eastwood Preview Round 16
By Paul Treanor
As expected it was a great day of rugby at Sydney University last Saturday with Eastwood winning three out of the four games contested. It was a very successful afternoon for the Club. Meanwhile our Colts didn’t do so well but a big congratulations to our Colts Seconds for scoring an upset win against their more fancied opposition.
The results were enough to knock University off the top of the Club Championship after just the one week in top spot. It was in fact enough to elevate us to second by a very slim margin of 15 points forcing University back to third. Manly returned to the top of the ladder after relegation last week and is 95 points ahead of Eastwood. With Manly playing Warringah this week we could see a shrinking of this lead.
Colts had a hard day at the office going down in Firsts and Thirds resulting in Southern Districts overtaking them in the Colts Championship pushing Eastwood back to fourth.
Nick Batger was the big mover on the leading try scorers list with a double on Saturday taking him to 15 for the season tied for second with James Martin and just one behind John Grant.
This week Eastwood take on Penrith and it has been another less than successful season for the club that everyone seems to be Wishin’ and Hopin’ for a victory or two. But as Dusty Springfield cautioned her sisters it wont get you a man just as Wishin’ and Hopin’ wont win you a rugby match. Penrith have only seven wins – 4 of which by their Fourths – this season for the whole club and all but their Fourths are sitting in last place. The biggest threat to Eastwood this weekend will be complacency and taking the win for granted. It should be another clean sweep for the Woodies heading into the important final two weeks of the competition.
This Saturday is Back to Eastwood Day at Millner and is Grade’s last home game of the regular season. It is also Hugh Perrett’s 200th game for the Club so let’s all get down to Millner to show our appreciation for this outstanding Woodie. Colts will travel out to Nepean to take on their Firsts and Seconds while Thirds have their last bye of the season.
4th Grade 1st Place
Eastwood had only their third loss of the season last Saturday. University have become their boggy team beating them in both their encounters this year. The loss leaves them just two points ahead of Warringah and five points ahead of University adding to the excitement of the final three rounds. Eastwood are in the box seat at the top of the ladder but have two big games coming up against Souths and Warringah. This week’s clash between Manly and Warringah will be watched with interest as both will be wanting to win for ladder positions as well as vital Club Championship points.
Again the team didn’t run on as per programme and there are a number of changes to this week’s nominated team. Damien Ferguson gets his first start this season replacing Daniel Minto at hooker. Ed Neely and Dave Puikala come into the pack. Mitch McGrath comes from the bench to replace Xavier Chigwidden at fly half while Shane Collins makes his first appearance at full back since Round 8 against Easts replacing Gerard McTaggart.
3rd Grade 3rd Place
The win over University last Saturday sees Eastwood advance on the ladder into outright third and caps two weeks of beating teams placed above them on the ladder. Randwick lost again last week and have now fallen from second to fifth. There is a slim chance the team could finish second but to do this Manly will have to lose twice over the last three weeks and this seems unlikely when you consider their draw. This week Manly play Warringah and a win by the Rats will give Eastwood a sniff. Eastwood just have to concentrate on their game and leave the rest to take care of itself.
Bleddyn Gant started last week against University at hooker and retains his place this week. Daniel Minto has come up from Fourths to replace Dean Doumbos in the front row. Jordan Goddard shows his versatility by moving from 8 to 10 replacing Harry Bennett. Murray Scoles, who played hooker in Seconds last week comes in to replace Richard Casali at left flanker.
2nd Grade 1st Place
Eastwood victory over University was a strong statement against the third placed Students. Manly also had a dominant win over Randwick and remain just five points behind Eastwood in second place. Warringah is in fifth place and will want to take the points from Manly to consolidate their finals hopes. Manly had a big win when they last met and will be hard to beat, but Eastwood will be keen for an upset.
This week’s team sees Tannous Ferris return to the hooking roll after a strong performance in Firsts last week covering the late withdrawal of Hugh Roach. This week they have lost Pierre Hola to Firsts and his place has been taken by Harry Bennett.
1st Grade 2nd Place
It is always good to beat University but when you do it at their home ground it is even better. Two wins from both clashes this year have been outstanding results and with more improvement left in the team Eastwood is shaping up to be team to watch come the finals. With the upset, though not totally surprising, win by Southern Districts over Warringah Eastwood are now sitting in second place on the ladder. This week, Warringah’s clash with competition leaders Manly is going to be one of the games of the season apart from those involving Eastwood. Warringah will be wanting revenge for their loss to Manly earlier in the season and to bounce back from their loss to Souths last week. Manly will want to keep that nine point lead over Eastwood heading into the last two rounds. That Minor Premiership and Club Championship are two trophies they have had their hearts set on from the kick off on day one and don’t want to stumble with the winning post in sight. Eastwood will be wanting to see a Warringah win as it will give them a slim hope of regaining the Minor Premiership. It will require Eastwood to win all three remaining games and Manly to drop two of their last three games. Maybe just a bit too much Wishin’ and Hopin’.
The late withdrawal of Hugh Roach following the Waratahs Doctor ruling him out due the injury suffered late in the game against Randwick saw Tannous Ferris come into the hooking roll against University. Hugh is back this week and takes his place in the front row adding an extra punch to the otherwise unchanged pack. Jai Ayoub suffered accidental finger in the eye mid way through the second half last week from one of his team mates and will miss this week. He is expected to be fit for the all important clash against Southern Districts next week. His place has been taken by the very experienced Pierre Hola who will bring his unique bag of tricks to the game.
3rd Grade Colts 3rd Place
The loss to University sees Eastwood drop a place with Manly moving ahead by just one point. Manly have been blessed by the draw with only two byes for the season compared to the four Eastwood will have had after this weekend. This means a team with two more losses will more than likely take the important second spot because Clubs are allowed to run without Third Grade Colts. If this is to continue Sydney Rugby need to reassess how points are applied in this competition. Either points for byes or a win/played percentage. Either way the unfairness needs to be addressed.
2nd Grade Colts 3rd Place
Colts Seconds had a fine come from behind win over University and now sit just five points behind the Students as we run into the final three rounds. Eastwood need to keep winning and keep the pressure on University. You never know in Rugby when that one upset can occur and that coveted second place could be Eastwood’s.
1st Grade Colts 7th Place
Eastwood put up a stronger effort against the might of the University premier Colts side scoring six tries in the process and thus gaining a valuable bonus point. They now sit outside the top six for the first time this season and are two points behind Manly and Eastern Suburbs who are joint fifth on points. Eastwood will now have to win all three remaining games and hope for favourable outcomes in other games. Manly have to play second placed Northern Suburbs in two weeks time while Easts have competition leaders University in the last round. It is possible Eastwood can finish fifth or sixth provided they focus on their game and win, particularly against third placed Southern Districts next week. It is going to be an intense three weeks of pressure rugby for Colts 1.
Apologies to those too young to have heard of Dusty Springfield. Dusty’s profound insight is still as relevant today as it was back in 1964.