Eastwood Preview Round 5
By Paul Treanor
What a great day’s Rugby at Millner last Saturday with four high quality games played on a splendid Autumn afternoon. The good news is another dose of Woodies Rugby is scheduled again this Saturday from Millner with Eastwood taking on Randwick, while Colts travel to Latham Park. Randwick have had the benefit of following Eastwood in the draw. This week they pit themselves against the might of Eastwood and it will be an indicator of how well they really are travelling.
With the Rugby media fixated on Manly and Warringah, Eastwood have been able to go about their business without any undue attention. Following last weekend’s results, including Manly beating University in First and Second Grade, we are now sitting on top of the Club Championship Table. The job is now to maintain that position – no small task.
The other big game this Saturday is the Warringah / University clash that will have a bearing on the Club Championship and the First Grade Ladder. Can competition leaders Warringah continue their winning run and inflict a consecutive loss on University or will last year’s premiers bounced back from their loss to Manly? When was the last time University lost two in a row? Another interesting round of the Magners Shute Shield coming up.
The afternoon started with our Fourth Grade Side coming home with a wet sail to score two late tries and win the game 25 – 13. This win has them in outright first place and this week their form will be tested when they take on third placed Randwick who accounted for Penrith 85 – 14 last weekend. Again we should see a close contest to open proceedings at Millner on Saturday with Eastwood looking to make it 5 from 5 and stamp their authority on this competition.
Thirds lost their second game of the season going down by just two points 13 – 15. Several missed opportunities to score points could have seen victory go their way but it was not to be. The team is now two wins from four starts and will be wanting to start stringing wins together.
Randwick on the other hand had a massive 113 – 7 win over Penrith and have only lost the one game – against Easts in the first round. In all games they have kept their opposition to low scores so our attack will be tested against what appears to be a strong defensive outfit.
This will be a tough game for Eastwood and an improvement across the board will be required if they are to take the points.
Eastwood Second Grade was impressive on Saturday beating West Harbour 48 – 15 completely dominating the second half. They have earned maximum points from their four games leaving they alone at the top of the table. Randwick are also undefeated but have only achieved one bonus point which was earned last Saturday when they beat Penrith 49 – 7. A team we beat 50 – 5 the week before. Both teams seem evenly matched and it should be a hard fought contest.
Jia Ayoub returns to No 10 after his overseas assignment. Experienced Mark Frost comes in on the wing in place of Ben Shorter who has moved up to first grade, while James Martin also gets a start in Seconds at full back.
With two undefeated teams that seem evenly matched this should be a top game and an ideal curtain raiser to the First Grade contest.
Eastwood ran out winners 35 – 25 on Saturday in a result that flattered West Harbour due to a number of missed goals and two West Harbour tries late in the game scored while Eastwood were playing a man short due to back-to-back yellow cards. Again injuries were a feature of the game with several players having to be assisted from the field and impacting on player availability for this week’s team. The club’s depth is certainly been tested and it is great to see our Seconds responding when called into battle.
Randwick have done major recruitment over the off season and are expected to be one of the final six this year after finishing eighth last year. So far they have won three of their four games with their only loss against Gordon the week after we beat the Highlanders 70 – 12. They struggled against Penrith last Saturday winning 37 – 23 after Penrith led at half time. This will be their first test against one of the heavy weights of the Shute Shield and will give some guide to how well they are going.
Eastwood have had an unsettled team due to the constant flow of injuries over the last four weeks and for the first time this year have an unchanged forward pack. The size of the Eastwood pack will be a challenge to the smaller Randwick forwards who have struggled against other teams in recent weeks. In the backs we have two changes forced by injury. Cam Mitchell who succumb to injury last week is replaced by Ben Shorter on the wing, while Ben Batger is also on the injured list and Harry Bennett comes in to replace him at full back. Both came to the club in the off season and are making their run-on debuts for Eastwood Firsts and we wish them well. Both have been playing well in Seconds and will be looking forward to showing they have what it takes to play in the top grade.
Eastwood will be wary of the Galloping Greens knowing the more they play the better their combinations will jell. They have some class in the back line that will punish any lapses in defence. Eastwood took the foot off the peddle in the last twenty minutes last Saturday and can ill afford a repeat this week. The coach will be insisting on a full 80 minutes commitment from the whole team. A game that should be exciting running rugby at its best.
3rd Grade Colts
After two straight byes Thirds finally got on the park and came away with the points 26 – 0 and a four try bonus point. The win was all the more sweet with the defensive effort preventing West Harbour from bothering the score board attendant.
This week they take on Randwick who have also only played two games and have a win and a loss against their name. In Round two they lost 12 – 24 to Norths who Eastwood beat the week before 17 – 10. Without too much form on the board it will be again hard to predict the outcome. Eastwood will be looking to make it three wins from three games while Randwick will be wanting to get their second win after a two week lay off.
2nd Grade Colts
Eastwood had a close contest against West Harbour eventually running out winners 19 – 10 (two tries to one). The win sees them sitting in fifth place and will take on Randwick who are one point ahead of them on the table. Randwick beat Penrith 53 – 7 last Saturday (Eastwood beat Penrith 73 – 0 ). Both teams only loss so far this year is to the undefeated Northern Suburbs. Eastwood lost 5 – 19 while Randwick lost 0 – 29.
This game looks to be anybody’s and it will come down to who makes the most of the opportunities that come their way.
1st Grade Colts
Colts Firsts suffered their first loss of the year when West Harbour took the points 25 – 19. The loss has them in third on the table and their opponents this week have two wins and a draw record so far in the competition. By all reports Randwick is a very skilled rugby side that is combining well and is seen as one of the top sides in this year’s competition. They lost to Eastern Suburbs in the first round, had a 22 all draw against Norths and had wins against Gordon (36 – 15) and Penrith (48 – 17). Eastwood have also had wins against Gordon (44- 17) and Penrith (33 – 5) and defeated Norths in a close game 32 – 29 in Round 1.
Again three very similar results that would indicate a tight game between these two Firsts Colts sides. A game that will give Eastwood an indication to how well they are travelling this early in the season.