Eastwood Preview Round 17
Grade Coogee Oval
Colts T.G. Millner
By Paul Treanor
Last Time We Met: Round 1
Won 53 – 13
Lost 10 – 63
Won 20 – 17
Lost 10 – 22
Won 41 – 10
Lost 10 – 24
Won 22 – 10
With just two rounds to go and the four Grade sides all finals bound the focus over these last rounds turns to the Club Championship prize. The situation is poised on a knife’s edge with the standings heading into this week’s games as follows:
This Weekend’s Critical Match-ups at a Glance:
Randwick and University are expected to get full points from their three Colts games which means the results in the Grade games will be vital. Eastwood will want to take full points from their four games against Randwick and will look to Warringah to make life tough at Pittwater Rugby Park for the Students by coming away with a few wins. All in all Saturday will be very important day for these three sides looking to claim the Club Championship for 2015.
4th Grade – 2nd Place
An important win last Saturday for the Fourths, taking care of Eastern Suburbs in a convincing win. It sees them take a firm hold on Second place especially should they win against 6th placed Randwick this Saturday. With the top five spots now determined the focus falls on the final place that is still up for grabs. Southern Districts have a chance to move into 6th place should Randwick fail against Eastwood. Further up the ladder Eastern Suburbs could move into the top four if they can account for Northern Suburbs in what is an important game for final placings. Eastwood are coming good at the right end of the season and should prove too strong for Randwick in the opening clash of the day.
Mac Jelec Dozo and David Fangaloka come in from the bench as the new Front Rowers holding up Pat Ferris. With a reshuffle of the Forwards Adrian Wyper joins the pack replacing Lachie Parker. David Sutton returns from Thirds and shows his versatility by taking over Half Back duties. Jack Philp comes into the starting 15 on the Wing, and finally Dave Konstantopoulos returns from Thirds to join Christian Hala forming the biggest Centres pairing in the competition.
3rd Grade – 1st Place
A shortened game due to the injury to Joel Whitlock took some of the gloss off the win over Eastern Suburbs. The win sees Eastwood six points clear in first place and a win this weekend will see them claim the minor premiership. West Harbour is still an outside chance of making the finals as they are 7 points behind 6th placed Randwick. They will need to win and Randwick to lose their final two games. Randwick know a loss could put them in danger of missing the finals whereas a win gives them a crack at moving into the top four depending, on results from other games thus setting up another tight contest at Coogee Oval. Eastwood are the form team of the competition and will make life tough for Randwick. With that Minor Premiership just one win away and a possible return game against Randwick in week one of the finals there is too much at stake to take the foot off the pedal at this late stage of the competition.
That game shortening injury to Joel last Saturday has him on the disabled list and his place is taken by the returning Corey Shore. Nick Batger, who came on as a replacement against Eastern Suburbs, comes into the starting line up on the Wing and Mick Tamone returns from Seconds to fill the Full Back spot vacated by Dave Sutton. Luke Ferris retains the Hooker duties and will be up against the veteran Adam Freier.
2nd Grade – 3rd Place
Seconds have two important games in the last two rounds of the competition the results of which could see them advance their position on the ladder. With Randwick this week and Warringah the following Eastwood have the opportunity to end up Minor Premiers, depending on the result of the Randwick and Manly game in the last round. This competition has been tight all season. A win this Saturday will set up a great finish to the regular season next weekend. Again the top five teams have been decided with Parramatta and West Harbour (who play each other this weekend) fighting out sixth place.
Apart from the loss to Eastwood in Round 1, Randwick have only had the loss (in Round 3) to Warringah. With a winning streak of 13 they will be riding high on confidence and want to reverse the loss to Eastwood in that Round 1 clash. Eastwood have a good record against Randwick and will be looking to continue building on their current form heading into the finals. This should be the closest game of the day with two sides looking to go deep into the finals and wanting to make a statement of their credentials as title contenders.
With Jai returning to First Grade Blake Sutton is back to guide the team around the paddock. This moves Jackson Bird back to Full Back. The rest of the team remains unchanged.
1st Grade – 1st Place
While Eastwood went about their business in their usual fashion against Eastern Suburbs the come from behind win by Warringah over their neighbours Manly moved Eastwood back into First Place with a two point margin over Manly. The race for the minor premiership is still alive with Eastwood to play Randwick and Warringah in the last two rounds while Manly are up against Gordon and Randwick. On current form it will go down to the last round as to how these two sides finish the year. Southern Districts and Warringah have third and fourth settled and it is academic which one finishes third. Northern Suburbs did their chances no good with their loss to West Harbour and sit six points out of the six and looking for other results to go their way if they are make it into the finals. They will be looking for Randwick and University to be defeated this weekend and to win against Eastern Suburbs to set up a final round must win game against University.
Randwick are a very different side to the one who turned up at Millner in Round 1 and will be a challenge for Eastwood on their home turf. They have had wins over some of the top sides but have struggled to maintain consistency and as a result are sitting in 5th place. They have won two of their last four and will be playing for their season over the next two Rounds. Eastwood will be well aware of the dangers this young side possess and will be keen to not only win but to get that all important bonus point in the race for the Minor Premiership. It should be another great game with Eastwood looking to make it five wins in a row and keep one hand on the Minor Premiership.
Sam Needs moves back to the bench with Jed Gillespie taking his place. Hugh Roach is at hooker and Jai Ayoub returns after missing last week through injury. Meanwhile Randwick has made just the one change to the side well beaten last start by Southern Districts. Stephen Hoiles, replacing Ned Hanigan at 6, adds extra experience to the pack.
Colts 3 – 10th Place
This week the Colts 3 side have an uphill battle against the competition leaders Randwick who have only lost one game this year.
Colts 2 – 9th Place
Randwick are sitting in 3rd place with just the two losses. Colts 2 have lost their last six games and will find the going tough against one of the leading sides.
Colts 1 – 5th Place
Another missed opportunity for a side who has struggled with consistency throughout the season. The loss sees them drop back one place and puts them in danger of missing the finals. This week it is competition leaders Randwick who have just the one loss for the season and it will need a major upset for Eastwood to take the win though upsets do happen. Getting at least a bonus point will help Eastwood’s clause.
Gordon in 6th place have the chance to move into 4th place should they beat Manly on Saturday, as they have the Bye in the final Round. Eastern Suburbs have a tough game this week, against 3rd placed Northern Suburbs and come up against Parramatta in the final round in what could be the game to determine the final placings should Parramatta beat West Harbour this Saturday.
This week the side has Ed Craig back from injury, Zack Simpson moves up from Colts 2 and James Sarks returns after missing last week’s game.