Eastwood Preview Round 7
By Paul Treanor
The rain held off long enough to declare the grounds at Penrith open for our clash with the Emus last Saturday. Fourths and Thirds played on their number two ground and were followed by colts 2 and 3. While Colts were playing on No. 2 Seconds and Firsts played on the main oval.
With the sun shining for the early games rain was replaced by tries with Eastwood running in 30 to Penrith’s one. The weather changed and the rain returned and despite the wet, thunder and lightening Eastwood Seconds and Firsts managed to score 22 tries to Nil.
The only disappointment of the day was the loss by Colts 2 giving the Penrith club their first win of the season. With this loss Colts 2 have dropped 10 points in the last two weeks that other clubs have picked up. This slump may come back and bight them later in the year.
Again mixed results across the Round has Randwick (who only dropped Thirds against Eastern Suburbs) on top of the Club Championship just 18 points ahead of us. It is a tight race for the Club championship this season and with Randwick playing University this weekend good results against Eastern Suburbs could see us move to the lead.
Before we get ahead of ourselves we need to make sure of getting the points over Eastern Suburbs who are always hard for the Grade sides at Woollahra Oval. Last year they inflicted the first loss on our Fourths and inflicted the biggest loss of the season on First Grade. Although they have been disappointing this season they are still capable of causing an upset in front of their latte crowd. With some of our players returning in Firsts and Seconds changes have filtered down through the four teams this week strengthening all our sides.
Colts are back at Millner in three games that are must wins at this stage of their competitions. As the Walrus said. “The time has come.” Eastern Suburbs Colts are not travelling that well and are sitting one place behind us on the Colts Club Championship Ladder. This would indicate the Clubs are evenly matched and it is up to Eastwood to step up and take the points on the day.
For those who find the trip to Woollahra a Bridge too far get down to Millner and support our young Colts as they do battle with the lads from the East.
4th Grade – 1st Place
Eastwood remains undefeated and sit five points ahead of Randwick. University is also undefeated and with a game in hand sit a point behind Randwick. Their clash this weekend will be closely watched by the Eastwood brains trust as we play the Students next week.
Fourths had a solid win over the struggling Penrith side. An eye witness claims the Penrith player looked certain to apply a fend and setting for it was a little surprised when the fend didn’t come. Then the mud came into play resulting in the sole try Penrith grade sides were to score for the entire day. A conversion gave them the highest points scored against Fourths so far this season. The only problem was the 62 Eastwood scored in the meantime.
There are again a number of changes this week to the side listed last week. Dave Fangaloka comes back into the side at Prop. Pat Benson replaces Tom Murphy, Sam Martin in for Conor O’Gorman and Dave Konstantopulos takes over from Andrew Walker. Xavier Chigwidden makes his first appearance in the Blue and White this year in the number 10 jumper and Jack Tourish who was on the bench for Thirds last week comes into the Centres in the place of Malakai Koroi.
Eastern Suburbs had a narrow loss last week against Randwick going down 24 – 27. They have had three wins this season and sit in 7th place. They beat Gordon (32 – 0), Manly (22 – 0) and Northern Suburbs (31 – 18). The results indicate the sides are not that far apart. Last year Easts sprung a surprise by beating Eastwood 32 – 29 and we will not want to see a repeat of this. This should be a cracker of a game to open proceedings.
3rd Grade – 1st Place
With both Eastwood and Eastern Suburbs winning last weekend we will see the only two undefeated sides clash this Saturday. Eastwood are two points ahead of Eastern Suburbs and seven ahead of University. This should be one of the games of the day and well worth getting to the ground to watch. Last week the team ran in 19 tries in their 119 – 0 demolition of Penrith. Nick O’Connor amassed 6, again showing he knows where the try line is and how to get there. He is now the leading try scorer across all clubs and grades. Also joining in the try feast was Sione Kupu bagging a hat trick. Some goal kicking practice was missed as the game progressed. Let’s hope that doesn’t back fire on us this weekend when it could come down to goal kicks in a tight contest.
After missing last week, Coren Shore returns to the Front Row. Lachie Cannell drops back from Seconds at Eight with Nick Johnson moving to Five in place of Adrian Wyper. Tom Murphy comes up from Fourths to replace Pat Benson to finish the changes to the forwards. In the backs Gerard McTaggart, who missed last week’s games, returns at half and will be partnered by Jackson Bird at 10. Tai Luani who was a late replacement in the centres retains his spot and finally Sione Kupu and Mick Tamone swap positions.
Eastern Suburbs Thirds were the only team to get a win last weekend against Randwick coming away with a 22 – 7 victory. They beat University by a point and had solid wins over Manly, Southern Districts and Northern Suburbs. They kicked the season off with a 35 – 27 win over Gordon and will be a good test for us. Apart from finding the try line last week’s run against Penrith did little to test our combinations but the clean sheet in defence would have pleased the coaches. Both sides will want to maintain their unbeaten record and this will add to the intensity of the contest.
2nd Grade – 2nd Place
The competition is tight in Second Grade with six points separating the top five sides. Eastwood sitting in Second Place are just two points behind Manly and one ahead of Warringah. University still have a game in hand and sit four points behind us.
Seconds started with a dry sky but before it was over the skies opened and dumped a large amount of water on the ground and the players. Despite the trying conditions they ended up scoring 14 tries in their 92 – 0 whitewash of an Emu side that was out played in all departments. Kyle Shewan scored a hat trick while Del had to do it again to get one of his two tries. The down side to the victory was injuries suffered to Max Page and Sione Fangia. Both will miss this week’s game. The injury to Max saw Matt Gonzalez get extra game time and by the end of the day would end up playing in three out of the four grade games when he came on as a replacement in Firsts.
The team this week sees Joey Afualo return after a heavy head knock suffered in the game against Warringah. He replaces Lachie Cannell who successfully deputised for him in the last two weeks. Matt Gonzalez gets his chance at Half Back. With players returning in First Grade Blake Sutton comes in at 10 in place of Jackson Bird and Ben Coady drops back onto the wing moving Tim Williams back to the centres.
Eastern Suburbs Seconds have won three of their six games and are sitting in Seventh. They went down 17 – 24 against Randwick last weekend. Eastwood will be strengthened by the return of several key players and should prove too strong for the Eastern Suburbs outfit.
1st Grade – 1st Place
Eastwood sit at the top of the ladder two points ahead of the only other undefeated team – Manly. This week third place Randwick, who haven’t lost since we beat them in the first round, take on the University side who have bounced back with two strong wins in recent weeks.
Ben Batger had just three points to get his 100 for the season and was 12 points short of the Club’s record. He was keen to look his best when these milestones were achieved and so worked hard to keep his jumper clean for the photo opportunity. It took him well into the second half to get his second goal to crack the 100 and to his word he kept his jumper clean for the recording of the feat. As by way of acknowledgement from the old timers who have moved on they organised not one but two rainbows to mark the occasion. Ben got eight points for the game and is now four short of the all time record. He will be looking to get them this Saturday. Just another good reason to be there and support the team.
Ben’s clean jumper was a testament to the 14 players in front of him who didn’t allow Penrith to penetrate the line resulting in a 48 – 3 win to the Premiers.
This week we see Jai Ayoub return from his International duties replacing Blake Sutton at 10. Ben Shorter also makes his return after his sickening head clash against Warringah three weeks ago with Ben Coady moving back to Seconds. Jared Barry was again absent from the bench last week but sitting in the Grandstand last Saturday he assured me he would definitely be back this week.
Eastern Suburbs caused a major upset last year in the corresponding game winning 51 – 21. They caused another upset in Round 2 this year when they beat University at Bowral by the single point. Since then they have been less than impressive with four straight losses. Following their recruiting during the off season and having a number of Waratah fringe players like the Japanese recruit Kotaro Matsushima they have not lived up to expectations. They will be disappointed with their season so far and will want to start to put together some wins. They will fancy themselves against Eastwood as they have a good record against us at home. They were beaten 50 – 12 by Randwick last Saturday and as a result have made a number of changes to their side. B. J. Edwards and James Graham come into the pack, ex Emu Robbie Mate gets a call up to Fly Half and Will Fay comes into the Centres with a back line reshuffle.
The game will be a good test before University next week and the other top of the table games to follow. Despite their position on the ladder Eastern Suburbs will rise to the occasion and it should be a great game of Rugby to finish off the day.
Colts 3 – 6th Place
Eastwood are on equal points with Southern Districts who play the undefeated Gordon this weekend adding to the importance of this week’s game against Eastern Suburbs.
Colts 3 made it three wins in a row taking the points against Penrith 26 – 7 scoring four tries in the process thus adding another point to their total. Their opposition this weekend have just the one win against Manly to their name and they are sitting in 10th place. They went down 0 – 61 to Randwick last Saturday and lost to Gordon 15 – 27 in Round One. Eastern Suburbs will be keen to add another win to their tally but Eastwood are on a bit of a roll and should be too strong for the boys from the East provided they maintain the focus.
Colts 2 – 9th Place
Colts 2 find themselves in the bottom quarter of the competition following two successive losses to teams who they should have beaten. In an attempt to turn things around five changes have been made to the side to take on Eastern Suburbs. Three players come into the side from Colts 3. Duncan Ryan at Prop, Jake Temm at 5 and Daniel Ryan at 8. Lachlan Croese who missed the last two games takes over at Full Back and Nick Reid who hasn’t played since Round 2 in Colts 1 is the new Hooker.
Eastern Suburbs are sitting in 6th with two wins and a draw and will be liking their chances of making it three wins this weekend. They drew with the strong Gordon side and have wins against Manly and Southern Districts while they had a one point loss to Northern Suburbs two weeks ago before going down 10 – 41 to Randwick last weekend.
When we played Randwick we held them to 10 – 22 while we lost to Gordon 20 – 29. On these results if Colts 2 can return to form they can take this game and get back on track. It will be interesting to see what impact the team changes have as another loss at this stage will severely impact on the rest of the season.
Colts 1 – 7th Place
The middle of the ladder is congested with Eastwood just a point behind Manly and four points behind fifth placed Southern Districts. With Manly playing second placed Northern Suburbs and Souths up against fourth placed Gordon this weekend’s game against Eastern Suburbs is the most important Eastwood has had to date. A win here would see them consolidate their position in the top end of the ladder. They should be freshened up after a week’s break and will need to take control from the kick off. The side has a new Full Back for this game with Rihann Barkley-Brown (a great Rugby name if ever I saw one) coming up after two games in Colts 2.
Eastern Suburbs have just two wins against their name and are sitting in 9th place. They have had wins over Manly and Souths and lost 10 – 59 to Randwick last week. They also lost 19 – 29 to Gordon back in Round 1. When we played these two sides we lost 10 – 63 to Randwick and 17 – 22 to Gordon. These results are not dissimilar and would indicate it will be a tight tussle between these two sides. Easts will definitely believe they can come away with the points. Eastwood needs to make a statement with this one and place their authority on the game with the clash against Colts powerhouse University just days away.