Eastwood Preview Round 4
By Paul Treanor
No matter when Easter is held the rain always finds it. In fact nine out of the last 10 years it has rained at Easter and so it was no surprise that last Saturday was cold and wet. The pleasant surprise was all games at both locations were still on and we had a good reason to get out of the house.
Those who ventured out to Millner saw four games played in trying conditions with four wins to the Woodies. Three of those games resulted in a four try bonus point win while First Grade saw the boot dominate the scoreboard with only one try a piece. The conditions were not conducive to running rugby and so game plans needed to be amended. Colts had a mixed day at Concord wining one, drawing another and a loss. A better result and a step forward. This week Eastwood takes on Warringah, with Grade travelling to Rat Park and Colts play hosts at Millner.
The first of the Big Four clashes for 2015 also happens this week when University takes on Manly in what will be University’s first game on their home ground this year. This clash will be televised on Seven Two so don’t forget to record it. If you can’t make it down to Rat Park then a great alternative is to go to TG to cheer on our Colts and catch the University / Manly game on the TV in the club house. If you miss any of the Shute Shield results you can get them on Seven News sports report on Saturday night. Seven’s coverage of the Shute Shield is vital to Eastwood and needs to be supported.
For the second week in a row Fourths did not concede a point scoring four tries in their 22 – 0 win over West Harbour. A great defensive effort. The side is sitting at the top of the table with maximum points from their first three games.
This week Dave Fangaloka returns to the front row replacing Mak Jelec Dozo who was a late change to last week’s run on side. Matt Matson comes in for Cormac Burke, Sam Martin is back at number 8, Malakai Koroi makes his first run on appearance for the year at 12 and Daniel Bystrom comes in on the wing on place of Ben Hopkins.
This week’s opposition have had a less than ideal start to their season with just the one win against their name. Last Friday they lost 0 – 11 to Randwick (who we beat 22 – 10 in Round One).
This should be a good game to kick proceedings off with Eastwood looking too strong for the Warringah side.
Thirds are sitting at the top of the ladder just a point ahead of Eastern Suburbs. They got their four try bonus point in their 20 – 13 win over West Harbour. Again our kickers were off target and after two games only one successful kick had been recorded on the score sheet.
Brad Curtis made an appearance at 10 late in the game but conditions did not suit his style of play.
Joel Whitlock had to come from the field and was replaced by David Fangaloka who immediately scored a try. Joel is back in the team for this weekend’s clash. Wes Sefuvia is back at 10 replacing Tai Luani who filled in last week. Tai has moved back to the centres pushing Mick Tamone to the wing and Jack Tourish, who came up for the game last week, returns to the Fourths.
As with Fourths Warringah have only won one game in Thirds which was 21 – 14 against Northern Suburbs in Round Two. They went down 17 – 24 against Randwick last Friday. Warringah were Grand Finalist last year and won both encounters against us. Eastwood will be looking to reverse those results and hold on to their top spot on the table. Eastwood will also be looking for a better success rate from Gerard McTaggart’s boot.
It was Daniel Minto’s 100th grade game for Eastwood and he proudly led the players out onto the ground for the start of Second Grade. West Harbour joined in the celebration by putting Australian Under 20s squad member Cameron Orr in their front row to make it a game Daniel would remember. Daniel’s milestone was celebrated by a comfortable win in uncomfortable conditions beating West Harbour 33 – 10 as well as coming out on top of the Pirates pack. The side proved too strong and fast for the Pirates running in five tries including one to Nick O’Connor in his first run on for Seconds. That makes it six for the season and takes him to the top of the leader board for the club.
Wes Sefuvia came back into 10 with a late change of plans that saw Brad Curtis going to the bench and playing in the last 10 minutes of the game. Brad is named at 10 again this week with the rest of the team unchanged.
This week will be a good test for Seconds against the undefeated Warringah side. They have beaten Southern Districts 23 – 17, Norths 37 – 29 and Randwick 26 – 23. Eastwood accounted for Randwick 20 – 17 in Round One and have been building momentum over the last two weeks. This should be a great clash with both sides wanting to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. It should be one of the games of the weekend.
The other two undefeated sides (Manly and University) also clash this weekend so it is a big weekend for Second Grade with two sides dropping off the top of the ladder come Saturday night.
West Harbour came with a very simple game plan. Kick the ball deep into Eastwood’s territory and look for a turnover. Eastwood were equal to the task and returned the ball at every opportunity turning the game into a kicking feast much to the disappointment to some sections of the crowd. But it was the weather conditions that dictated play and Eastwood took every opportunity to score points when on offer. Both sides score a lone try. Eastwood’s came at the end on one of the few passing movements where the ball stuck. Accurate kicking from Ben Batger and our long range expert Tom Hill secured the 20 – 7 win.
The surprise of the day was the unexpected return of Guy Millar, from his “Forced” sight-seeing tour of South Africia, running on in the number one jersey. Sam Needs moved to the bench and made the most of his game time when he ran on late in the game. This week Sam returns to the run on side as Guy is again unavailable. Hugh Roach is available and will wear the No.2 jersey for the second week in a row. Jared Barry returns to the run on side in place of Tom Alexander who moves to the bench. With Jai Ayoub away playing for Croatia there has been some conjecture of who would replace him at Fly Half. The jumper has been handed to Blake Sutton who has recovered remarkably quickly from knee surgery. Blake played in the Australian Club Championship game on Valentines Day and will be keen to get on the park at his favoured position.
The win has Eastwood at the top of the ladder on equal points with Manly and Southern Districts, both of whom have played Penrith and therefore have a better For and Against.
Warringah have had an indifferent start to the season with a two point loss to Souths, a one point win over Norths and a loss to Randwick 17 – 36. They will be wanting to show they are one of the teams to be in finals calculations and what better way than beating the reigning premiers.
Eastwood are yet to play to the standard they themselves expect and will be looking to continue down the path of improvement. Both teams know what the other is capable of and know they will have to be focused for the full eighty minutes if they are to take the points. A game that should be fast and entertaining should the weather allow us to return to running rugby. A game not to be missed.
Colts 3 lost to West Harbour 15 – 28 at Concord last Saturday. Warringah did not play last weekend and have forfeited their first two games. They are expected to have a team this weekend and so it will be their first game of the year. Eastwood will need to expect the unexpected in looking for their first win.
Colts 2 got their first win of the season in a thriller, beating Wests 17 – 15. Warringah have lost their two games so far this year and Eastwood will be looking for back to back wins and their first win at Millner.
It was another close affair for Colts 1 finishing with a 22 all draw against West Harbour, and getting their first 4 try bonus point. This result follows on the close finish against Gordon the week before and continues the improvement from the team. This week Josh Nohra comes back from Grade to strengthen the side at Full Back.
Warringah Colts 1 are winless and will be wanting to take their first win this season. Eastwood with a close loss and a draw in the last two weeks will be looking to take the next step and get their first win of the season.
A good day at TG for our Colts is expected.