Eastwood Preview Round 8
By Paul Treanor
The persistent rain finally won last weekend with a number of games postponed including Eastwood’s Thirds and Fourths. It also saw a change of venue with Grade transferring back to Millner and Colts moving to the back oval. The Eastwood postponed games will be played in the week before the long weekend in June at a venue and time to be advised.
Colts rose to the occasion and took all three games against Eastern Suburbs. This is the second time this year they have won all games. The last time it was against Warringah and on that occasion Seconds lost as this did this weekend. A trend we don’t want to see continue.
This week we take on the might of Sydney University who are always guaranteed to give us a tough encounter is all seven matches. Last Round they played Club Championship leaders Randwick and won three out of seven. All teams except First Grade played on Tuesday night adding another variable to the equation for this weekend’s matches.
Eastwood moved to the top of the Club Championship ladder just 11 points ahead of Randwick with results from Thirds and Fourths to be added at a later date. University are sitting in third with a catch up game in all Grades yet to be played.
The biggest game of the year so far is this weekend’s clash at Millner. First Grade is the televised match and so we need a big crowd to show the television audience Eastwood are the best supported team in the competition. We need to see plenty of Blue and White in the crowd in front of the Club. Get down there early as all games will be well worth watching.
Meanwhile Colts travel to St. Paul’s College Oval to take on their Colts sides who have dominated the competition for the best part of this century. The games require the Eastwood Colts to focus and execute their game plan for the full match if they are to cause an upset.
4th Grade – 1st Place
Eastwood and University are the only undefeated side with both having a match in hand. Eastwood sits on top of the ladder with an extra bonus point. Both sides have outstanding points conceded for the season to date (Eastwood 22 University 45) and it will be a test of each others defence in the opening clash of the day. University have scored ten more points than Eastwood so we can expect to see two very well matched teams take to the field.
The changes to the side for this clash sees Adrian Wyper drop back from Thirds to replace Jack Warfield who moves up a grade. David Rose takes over from Sam Martin at 8 and is replaced by Mat Matson. Wes Sefuiva returns from injury taking over at 10 and Sione Kupu is the new Full Back.
University defeated Randwick 36 – 5 on Tuesday night with another excellent defensive effort. The quick turnaround will have some impact of the performance this Saturday but with the two best defensive teams butting heads it should be a game where points will be at a premium and both sides will be working hard to minimise penalties within kicking range. This should be a great contest well worthwhile getting out of bed early to get down to the ground to watch. Setting up a great day of Rugby.
3rd Grade – 1st Place
The much anticipated clash with Eastern Suburbs was not to be and we will have to wait until early June for that match up. University had their second loss of the season on Tuesday going down 17 – 19 to Randwick. Despite the two losses University have accumulated 7 bonus points and sit in third place.
Matt Prestipino comes into the side this week replacing Adrian Wyper. Jack Warfield comes into the pack while Alex Del Moro drops back from Seconds to replace Sione Kupu on the wing.
While University will not want to make it two in a row Eastwood has their eyes set on maintaining their undefeated season and will be hard to beat on their home turf.
2nd Grade – 2nd Place
In an interesting Round for Second Grade Eastwood finds itself, despite its loss to Eastern Suburbs, holding onto second spot on the ladder. Parramatta surprised the previously undefeated Warringah with a 35 – 28 victory and Randwick held out a fast finishing University to take their clash 34 – 28. Second Grade is shaping up to be the most contested competition this year.
Eastern Suburbs adapted their game plan to the conditions better than Eastwood with both sides putting in sterling defensive efforts. A yellow card to Joey Afualo and unforced errors didn’t help and we came up short 12 – 16 for only our second loss of the season.
This week sees George Kent comes back into the side after his strong game in Firsts last weekend. Sione Fangia returning from injury comes into the Centres pushing Tim Williams onto the wing.
University have two losses this season. They lost to Manly 18 – 24 and Randwick on Tuesday night. Both sides are coming off losses and will want to get back in the winners circle. Eastwood have the talent to take this game but you can never under-estimate the University side who will come to play against a side they are always keen to beat. It is hard to separate the two sides and the game will go to the team that minimises mistakes and takes their opportunities when they are on offer. A drier track should favour the Eastwood side.
1st Grade – 1st Place
Eastwood victory over Easts sees them retain their place at the top of the ladder. Manly didn’t play deferring their match against Northern Suburbs to the June long weekend and so remain undefeated setting up a great game next weekend when we take them on at Manly Oval.
The moving of the game to Millner had the added advantage of Ben Batger becoming the highest ever points scorer for the Club in front of his home crowd. Congratulations Ben on the achievement. Before the game we lost Michael Kovacic to tonsillitis and George Kent made the most of his return to First Grade with a great all round game. Pat Sio showed why he has been targeted by the French as he outplayed his opposite number, the Waratah contracted Tala Gray. As we expected Eastern Suburbs where going to give us a tough game and they didn’t disappoint with the result in the balance until the end and they managed to get close enough to pick up a bonus point.
With Hugh Roach on call up to Waratah duty we are fortunate to have Todd Pearce available for this important game. His first game in the run on side since we played Manly in the early rounds last year. Michael Kovacic is back on his feet and is listed in this week’s run on side with George Kent returning to Seconds. University have named an unchanged side to the one that beat Randwick.
University accounted for Randwick in their Saturday night clash making it three wins in a row after their disappointing loss to Manly 14 – 28. Their only other loss for the season was against Easts when they went down by a single point 25 – 26 back in Round 2.
Despite University’s position on the ladder we know they always lift when they come to play Eastwood. In recent years Eastwood have had a good record at home against the Students and this Saturday will be a tremendous clash of two great teams. On recent form Eastwood should win this game but you can never under estimate University who will leave nothing in the tank as they try and get over the top of the Woods.
Colts 3 – 5th Place
Eastwood 31 – 19 win over Eastern Suburbs, picking up a bonus point in the process, and Southern Districts loss to Gordon sees Colts 3 move up the ladder to fifth place just three points behind this week’s opponents University. University lost 23 – 28 to Randwick (who beat us 24 – 10) and 0 -10 to Gordon. Eastwood have now won four in a row and have the results on the board to challenge the Students. A game that should be close and go down to the final whistle provided the Eastwood boys stick to their game plan and have belief in themselves.
Colts 2 – 7th Place
Colts 2 also scored four tries in their 27 – 5 win over Eastern Suburbs. It was an excellent result for the team coming off a couple of disappointing weeks. It lifts them above Easts on the ladder into 7th spot pending the result of the Manly and Northern Suburbs game.
This week it will be a lot tougher coming up against the University side who will be smarting over their first loss of the season on Tuesday when they went down 13 – 20 to Randwick. When we played Randwick we lost 10 – 22, which is a similar result and we should take confidence from this. As with Thirds, Eastwood can match it with their more fancied opponents and will need to come out of the sheds ready to play – and play until the Referee calls it quits.
Colts 1 – 6th Place
In a game that was tight to start Eastwood got themselves out to a commanding lead before Eastern Suburbs came back with a late try. In the end it came down to a Matthew Collins’ penalty goal that was the difference between the two sides with Eastwood running out winners 24 – 21. The much anticipated top of the table clash between Randwick and University lived up to the expectation with University running out winners 24 – 22 in a torrid affair. Northern Suburbs, who previously beat University, remains the only undefeated team in the competition.
After such a physical game with so much riding on it will University be able to get themselves up for this game against Eastwood? We know what Randwick is like and we know for us to challenge the boys from Broadway we will need to play to our best ability. The “experts” will have University as favourites but favourites can be beaten. Is Eastwood the team to do it?