Eastwood Preview Finals Week One
By Paul Treanor
Following the announcement last Saturday night about the future of T G Millner Oval and Eastwood Rugby Club it is fitting we return in all four grades for this weekend’s opening volley in the 2013 final series.
Grade finished off the regular season with strong bonus point wins in all four grades against Warringah last Saturday ensuring all teams finished in the top three. This gives each team the added incentive of a win this Saturday catapulting them into the preliminary final.
However we cannot get ahead of ourselves and we have to win on Saturday before worrying about what happens next. All four games will be tough encounters and will not be like some of the easy victories we have won in recent weeks. It means we are in for one hell of a day’s Rugby at the new home of Rugby come Saturday. The teams will need all the support they can get so let’s make it the biggest crowd of the season.
One point to be aware of is the revised start times for the earlier games.
Colts do not play this weekend. Both Colts 2 and Colts 3 earned themselves a week off by their heart stopping wins last Saturday. They will be rearing to go the following week in the Preliminary Final. Unfortunately Colts 1 could not quite get there falling just five points short of Warringah.
The Club finished second in the Club Championship reflecting the outstanding year all teams had and an indication of the future of the Club.
Grade 4th Grade – Finished in 2nd place
Game starts at 10.05 am against Randwick.
Eastwood go into the game with momentum on the back of a six game winning streak. Their last loss was against Randwick (12 – 17) when flippers and snorkels were the order of the day. This week the forecast is for a dry track so the form from the last game will not be so relevant and we should see a different game plan employed and executed.
Randwick has had a mixed preparation with two losses from their last three games. Losses to Norths and University have not been good for their finals preparation and they will need to lift if they are to beat Eastwood.
The game will be a tight one with both teams able to score points and it will be the team with the best game plan and level heads who will find themselves taking the victory.
3rd Grade – Finished in 2nd place
Game starts 11.30 am against Randwick.
Randwick come to the game with the major scalp of the Minor Premiers, University, last weekend. In fact it was University’s only loss of the season. Their confidence will be sky high and Eastwood will need to be in their face from the kick off. Randwick have won their last five games whereas Eastwood have won four out of their last five matches. Interestingly the last loss each team has had was against Eastern Suburbs.
When they met back in the wet in June Randwick got the better of them 10 – 17 but as with Fourths it will be under different conditions this weekend. The first encounter was a 12 – 6 win to Eastwood so on paper and current form both teams are capable of taking the win.
Eastwood has shown in recent weeks it is capable of scoring points while restricting their opposition from returning fire. Again we have the prospect of a game that will go down to the wire and will be worth getting to the ground early to watch.
2nd Grade – Finished in 3rd place
Game starts 1.05 pm against University.
Second Grade have been putting in some strong performances in the weeks leading up to this match. University will be no push over having a large portion of their team coming back from 1st Grade now the Super Rugby season is over. They have won 12 in a row with only 2 losses for the season.
Eastwood has only played them once back in round 2 and had an emphatic win 30 – 13. Much has transpired since then as both teams have improved as the season progressed. Eastwood have won 13 from their last 14 and that loss was to Manly after backing up from their tough game against Randwick on the preceeding Wednesday night.
They have the team to take it to the University side and as playing are a single unit. The game will be a close contest and will require a full 80 minute effort in all facets of the game.
1st Grade – Finished Minor Premiers
Game starts 3 pm against Southern Districts
First Grade became Minor Premiers last Saturday with their win over Warringah. They played like Minor Premiers and will be hard to beat during the final series. On form it would be expected the Grand Final game will be between two of the top four teams but upsets are known to occur. So it is important we get off to a flying start by taking care of last year’s Grand Finalist Southern Districts on Saturday.
Eastwood has only played Southern Districts once this year way back in Round 1, which Souths won by two points in a low scoring game. So much has happened since then. That game is almost irrelevant as to the team’s prospects for this semi-final.
Souths were undefeated for the first six rounds and led the competition. Three losses in the next four rounds saw them drop down the ladder and Eastwood take over first spot and never gave it up.
Souths have had losses to University and Manly in the last three weeks and a narrow win over Norths back in Round 14 indicates their form has been patchy against the stronger teams. They do get some of their Super Rugby players back that should strengthen them this week.
As we all know (if you have been reading your Newsletter) Eastwood have been consistently putting in stellar efforts all year only suffering two losses and a draw. It could be said they were lucky to come away with the draw against Manly but that’s what good teams do. They don’t loose even when they are not playing their best.
Eastwood should be too strong on the day but you can’t write off Southern Districts with the talent they have at their disposal. Don’t expect a cricket score in this one.
All in all we have four games that will not be decided until the final whistle. Make sure you are part of the excitement. Postpone the housework and gardening and get down to the ground. The rugby will be worth it.