Eastwood Preview Round 9
By Paul Treanor
It was a disappointing day’s Rugby at Woollahra last Saturday despite the brilliant weather. Two wins and two losses in Grade, while at Millner Colts came away with two wins and one loss giving us the worst club result this year. We have again dropped back to third on the Club Championship Ladder with University moving ahead of us into second. Manly remain at the top following six wins and are now 85 points ahead of us.
With games against University this week and Manly the following it is firmly in our control to improve our place on the ladder. Despite Colts 1 going down in a nail bitter Eastwood remain second on the Colts Championship Ladder 54 points behind University. Wins this week will cut into this lead.
This week Grade return to Millner for the replay of last year historical Grade Finals. All four grades will to looking toward the challenge of taking on the dominant club of the Shute Shield. University always lifts against Eastwood sides just as Eastwood always rises to the occasion against the Students. Colts travel to St. Paul’s College Oval for their games against the Sydney University club.
4th Grade 1st Place
For the first time this year Fourths were unable to get us off to the perfect start. Locked at 29 all a penalty in the dying minutes gave Easts a three point lead and so the final bell rang out with Fourth Grade suffering their first loss of the season going down 29 – 32. Although disappointing on the day it is not a bad time to have a reality check and get things back on track this weekend considering the players who were unavailable for last week’s game. Seven changes this week including three players returning from Thirds and four who did not play against Easts.
This weekend is not going to be easy against University who are sitting in fourth place with two losses one of which was in Round 2 against Easts (10 – 19). Last Saturday they had a tough afternoon against a Penrith side who had won their last two games. University ran out winners 19 – 15, while back in Round 1 they beat Penrith 66 – 10 and Eastwood defeated Penrith 45 – 7 in Round 3.
On paper both sides look evenly matched. Eastwood should be expected to bounce back from their loss last Saturday and not take any assumptions into the game. It should be a tight affair that will go until the referee blows time.
3rd Grade 5th Place
Thirds took the field knowing they had to win to even things up for the day and with some scrappy play managed to stay in the contest. Although they let the referee into the game and a couple of successful penalties against them looked to have given Easts victory the impressive thing was that Eastwood didn’t loose faith in themselves scoring a converted try in the final minutes to take the lead by a point. With improved discipline and solid defence they were able to withstand the final assault from Easts for a hard earned win. With two wins in a row for the first time this year they have jumped two places on the ladder. It will be a big boost to the team’s confidence if they can make it three from three this weekend and the their chances are boosted by a number of team changes. Sam Needs returns to the side as loose head prop moving Dean Doumbos to tight head, Bleddyn Gant drops back from Seconds into hooker, Jordan Goddard comes in at 8 pushing Nick Johnson to 6, Andrew Ferris returns from illness at 9, Harry Bennett takes over at No. 10 after being out with concession since his First Grade Debut a few weeks ago, Sion Kupu moves from 15 to 13 making way for Brad Curtis return from injury at fullback and Peli Lavaka gets a start on the wing.
University is going to be a huge challenge to them as they are undefeated and sitting alone at the top of the ladder. They hammered Penrith 78 – 17 last Saturday and have a strong defensive record only conceding 120 points in 8 games. However Eastwood has the players that can upset the competition leaders provided they play as a team and to their potential.
2nd Grade 1st Place
Seconds remain our only undefeated Grade team and put on a fine display of entertaining rugby scoring 8 tries, although a lone voice called the tries boring and suggested Cronulla would beat them next week. I suspect the coach could still see areas where improvement was needed but those watching from the side lines continue to be impressed by this teams performances week in week out.
The second grade debut of Andrew Ferris was not to be, due to a stomach virus picked up Friday night. Interestingly Hugh Perrett fell to a similar complaint two weeks ago. Maybe they eat the same takeaway on Friday nights? Disappointing for Andrew not to run out at Woollahra however we had the good fortune of having Max Page recover in time to make it back to take over the half back role. Max has retained his place in the side for this week’s game. Tannous Ferris, Pierre Hola and Ben Shorter come into the side with Jai Ayoub and John Grant getting the call up to Firsts.
University are running third and have had two losses to date – Manly and Gordon. Last Saturday they easily accounted for Penrith 80 – 12 though Penrith Seconds have not performed well so far this year and it was an expected result. They played Eastern Suburbs in Round 2 and had a 67 – 10 win and so both teams have had several good wins setting up a great game with two highly competitive sides who will be looking to dominate from the kick off. A game not to be missed.
1st Grade 4th Place
Sometimes you line up against a team that comes to play and everything clicks. All you can do is to try and stay with them hoping the momentum shifts. This was the case with Eastwood last Saturday when they found themselves up against a red hot Eastern Suburbs whose performance belied their position on the ladder. In the end it was First Grade’s second loss of the season with the final score 21 – 51. The coach had warned Eastern Suburbs was a boggy team and unfortunately he was right. Eastern Suburbs showed what they are capable of and, along with West Harbour’s win over Southern Districts, have breathed some life into the Shute Shield. More upsets are on the cards if they continue to play like this.
Three changes have been made to last week’s team. Our Grand Finalist hooker Todd Pearce comes into the team for the first time since that Grand Final game against University. Todd has been training the house down over the last couple of weeks since returning from overseas and will be looking forward to locking horns with the University pack in his first game of 2014. In the backs Pierre Hola and Ben Shorter make way for Jai Ayoub and the return of the experienced John Grant.
Eastwood will not only want to reverse the result from last year’s Grand Final but also to make a statement of their claims for 2014 after last week’s disappointing result.
University like Eastwood have also had two losses but in their case those losses have been to the two top sides – Manly and Warringah. Uni beat Penrith 62 – 21 last outing and have won three in a row after their two losses.
University and Eastwood clashes are always looked upon as one of the games of the season and this year is no exception. With both teams wanting to get bragging rights on their first clash for 2014 the contest will be intense for the full 80 minutes. The game will be shown on ABC TV for those who live too far away to get to the ground. For the rest of us, press the record button and head down to Millner to capture the action live and add you voice to the Woodies supporter chorus.
3rd Grade Colts 2nd Place
The day kicked off well at Millner with Thirds again starting on a positive note with a win (29 – 7) over Easts, leaving them undefeated and with a appointment this week with the only other undefeated side, University, who now have had three byes and sit in third place on the ladder. University beat Easts earlier in the season 45 – 7 and had a 7 point win over Norths who Eastwood also beat by 7 points in Round 1. The teams seem to be evenly matched and should provide an entertaining start to proceedings on Saturday.
2nd Grade Colts 3rd Place
A narrow three point win over Easts last Saturday was a tough encounter for the young Colts Seconds side and this week they are up against the team who sits one place ahead of them on the table. University have only had the one loss, 7 – 22 to Norths the team that also beat Eastwood (5 – 19) in Round 1. Last Saturday they were too strong for Penrith beating them 43 – 0. With second playing third you can expect to see an entertaining game of hard rugby with both teams keen to take the points.
1st Grade Colts 5th Place
In the closest game in Colts 1st Grade last Saturday Eastwood went down to Eastern Suburbs. Eastwood lead at half time 7 – 3 but Easts came out strong in the second half taking the score to 7 – 15 before a final bust from Eastwood added another try to make it 12 – 15 at the final bell. The loss sees them drop back one place to 5th.
This week they take on the might of University Colts Firsts who have only had one loss this year when they were beaten by Northern Suburbs 43 – 38. Eastwood got a win against Norths, 32 – 29, in Round 1 and with their recent win over Southern Districts have shown they have the talent to topple the competition leaders. It will require them to bring their A game but as we have seen they are capable of beating anyone on their day.