Back to Eastwood Day
Grade T. G. Millner
Colts Pittwater Rugby Park
By Paul Treanor
Last Time We Met: Round 4
Won 39 – 12
Won 83 – 5
Lost 22 – 25
Won 56 – 5
Won 12 – 7
Won 24 – 0
Won 13 – 0
With just one Round to go the Club Championship will be decided this weekend. A maximum of 215 points are available across the seven matches meaning any one of three Clubs can win the Club Championship. However after last weekend’s results University, who take on Northern Suburbs are in the box seat to make it 13 wins in a row, moving into the top spot for the first time this year. Randwick have sown up the Eric Spilsted Shield for Colts breaking the strangle hold University have had on this trophy for most of this century. Randwick will be looking for winning results against Manly to make is a double. Likewise Eastwood are clearly the top Club in Grade and are keen to see results go our way this Saturday to take out the Club Crown. University are also feeling the pressure and well aware they need to maximise points this weekend as it could come down to bonus points on the last day that decide the Championship.
Although Colts 2 and 3 are out of the running for a final berth this weekend is not a dead rubber as all points are necessary from all seven sides matches on Saturday. We wish all seven sides the best as they call upon that Woods spirit to give us the best chance to take out the Trophy.
Any of the three Clubs can win the Gregor George Cup and will be looking to maximise points from their seven games while frantically checking Twitter for results from other grounds. Can Eastwood or Randwick take the Cup from University who have had a mortgage on it for the last 12 seasons? Get down to Millner for back to Eastwood day and watch the drama unfold.
A great last round of the minor premiership with a number of games to determine not only the Club Championship but also final positions on the ladder.
4th Grade – 2nd Place
Fourths found themselves playing early at Latham Park after Randwick decided they only wanted Seconds, Firsts and some juniors to play on Coogee Oval. The weather was cold and gloomy but the result was warm and satisfying keeping them three points ahead of Northern Suburbs, who play 1st place University on Saturday. For Club Championship purposes we want to see Norths upset the Students, even though a result the other way will guarantee us 2nd place. Our opponents this week are in 8th place and will be playing their last game of the season. With the benefits of finishing Second and the importance of points for the Club Championship Eastwood will not want to drop this final match before we head into the finals.
Sixth place is still to be confirmed with Randwick just a point behind Southern Districts. Randwick are up against 4th placed Manly while Souths have 9th placed West Harbour in an intriguing final round in Fourths.
David Fangaloka is again named in the Front Row replacing Harry Morton who actually started last week. Matt Prestipino, who missed last week through illness comes back at Number 8 pushing David Rose to 6 and Matt Matson to 4. The surprise move this week is Christian Hala to 10 in place of Daniel Matthews, while Tyrone Tadros and Malakai Koroi are the new Centres.
3rd Grade – 1st Place – Minor Premiers
Thirds also played at Latham Park and continued on their winning way accounting for Randwick in another strong display. Eastwood opponents this week are sitting in 5th spot and are on equal points with 4th placed Northern Suburbs. Randwick are two points behind in 6th and West Harbour as further two points behind them in 7th place. Norths have 2nd placed University and will want to take that 4th spot so it should be an intense game at University Oval. Randwick have 9th placed Manly while Wests are up against 10th placed Souths. Should Norths and Warringah fail to win their matches and Randwick wins they could jump into 4th spot so again a number of key games this Saturday to complete the Third Grade competition.
On current form Eastwood, who appear to be too strong for the Rats this Saturday, will have to be wary of a Warringah side that will want to finish as high up the ladder as possible and so their finals campaign will start this week. A game Eastwood will need to stamp their authority on from the kick off in preparation of next week’s Round 1 of the Finals.
Joel Whitlock has not recovered sufficiently from that head knock against Easts and could be on the Disabled List for another three weeks. Let’s hope he is ready for the Grand Final. Another on the unavailable list is leading Third Grade Point Scorer Jack Tourish. His place has been taken this week by Tai Luani who is returning from the injury he suffered in Round 11 against Norths. Nick Batger makes a move from Wing to Full Back this week to cover the promoted Mick Tamone. This leaves an opening for Dave Konstantopoulos to get another run in Thirds on the Wing. After covering for injuries in Firsts Lachie Cannell returns in the back of the scrum as the only change to the Forwards.
2nd Grade – 2nd Place
A strong start to the game against the competition leaders saw us race to a commanding lead after 10 minutes. The rest of the game was an exercise in defence as Randwick seemed to have all the ball and in the end it was our defence that won the day for us. Keeping them to just three tries denied them a bonus point allowing Eastwood to move into 2nd place while Randwick dropped from 1st to 3rd. Randwick have another tough game this week when they take on the new competition leader’s Manly. Second Grade will have mixed emotions on the result of this game. A win to Randwick and a win to Eastwood over 5th placed Warringah will see us finish First. A win by Manly will help us in our chase for the Club Championship. University, who are in 4th place play 8th place Northern Suburbs who are out of the final contention. West Harbour will be looking for a victory over Southern Districts (who are in 11th place) to make sure of claiming 6th place. Parramatta are just two points behind them and will be hoping for an upset and for them to beat 9th place Eastern Suburbs to sneak into the finals.
Alex Del Moro was having one of his best games of the season with three tries and a try saving tackle before disaster struck. An ACL injury that could not only be a season ending injury but a career ending one. Del’s place this week has been taken by Mick Tamone coming up from Thirds. The only other change to last week’s side is the return of George Kent after he filled in for the injured Joey Afualo in First Grade.
1st Grade – 2nd Place
For some teams finals football starts early as we saw in First Grade last Saturday. Teams who had to play for their season were more desperate resulting in wins to Randwick and University. As a upshot Eastwood reign at the top of the Shute Shield was short lived and Manly moved ahead by two points. The hunt for the Minor Premiership is not over yet and is on again this week with Eastwood up against Warringah and Manly against Randwick. Also on the line is the important fourth spot with Warringah, University and Randwick in the mix depending on results making it one of the most absorbing rounds of the season.
Warringah, who are currently 4th will be wanting to show their win over Manly two weeks ago was not a fluke after University beat them last Round. They will also want to reverse the result in Round 4. With Eastwood and Warringah beaten last week they will both want to win before heading into the finals. Eastwood will need to eliminate the errors from last week’s loss to Randwick and improve their handling if they are to come out victors. An Eastwood side firing on all cylinders will be too strong for Warringah who always lift when they come to Millner.
Sam Needs came on early in the second half last week and retains his spot in the starting side with Jed Gillespie moving to the bench. Joey Afualo, who was missed last week, returns from injury as the only other change to the side. Meanwhile Warringah have made two changes to the side beaten by University. Luke Holmes, who came off the bench last week, is back at Hooker and Michael Adams comes into the Centres pushing Chris Arnold to the Wing in place of Seb Wileman who returns to Seconds.
Colts 2 and Colts 3
Colts 2 and 3 have a chance to end their season with a win when they take on Warringah this Saturday. Both Clubs have had a disappointing season and will want to finish on a positive note. Eastwood had easy wins back in Round 4 but will find the going tougher this Saturday as Warringah has struck some form in recent weeks. Any points will be most helpful in our quest for the Club Championship and we will be looking for both sides to finish the season on a high. Not many teams can finish a season with a win.
Colts 1 – 7th Place
Eastwood put up a good showing against the competition leaders last round but unfortunately were unable to get a bonus point for their effort. Parramatta’s win over West Harbour moves them into 6th place on equal points with Eastwood but with one more win to their credit. To make the finals Eastwood need to come away with one more point than Parramatta this weekend, so in the end it could come down to bonus points. The best result is for Eastwood to beat Warringah and for Eastern Suburbs, who beat Northern Suburbs on Tuesday night, to beat Parramatta. Waiting in the wings is Randwick who will play whoever finishes 6th in the first week of the Finals.
Mark Quadrio returns for this vital clash coming in at 8 with Tim Anstee moving back to 5. Rihann Barkley-Brown gets his first run in Colts 1 since Round 11 on the Wing in place of James Sarks.