Eastwood’s convincing 29-14 home victory over Randwick put down a marker for the competition, illustrating that the blue and whites remain a heavyweight player heading towards the business end of the campaign.
The stage was set for a tight encounter of rugby as the Woodies hosted the Galloping Greens on the penultimate day of the InTrust Shute Shield regular season.
Traveling to TG Millner Oval after an epic 28-24 arm-wrestle away win to Southern Districts, Randwick appeared as though a return to the glory days was not overhyped.
Yet Eastwood had other ideas, demolishing Penrith 73-0 on the road the previous weekend to come into the match full of confidence.
They would put their bruising style to the test to make for an uncomfortable afternoon for the visitors.
The occasion also marked the 50th anniversary celebrations for surviving members of the famous 1966 Grand Final, with players from both teams winding back the clock as they watched the current generation lock horns.
Stu Woodhouse’s tactics were obvious from the get-go, pinning the Wicks deep into their own half with a sound kicking game from flyhalf Jai Ayoub and a solid defence to close down Randwick’s threat with ball in hand rugby.
Tries to Max Page and Cam Mitchell were reward for a patient first half, although a missed penalty goal attempt adjacent to the posts in the 40th minute kept the Greens in the contest at 12-0.
The hosts started the second stanza where they left off the first, utilising a dominant set piece at scrum and lineout time to frustrate their opponents.
The stop-start nature enforced ill discipline from Randwick, seeing tempers beginning to fray as they went down to 13 men courtesy of back-to-back yellow cards.
Making the most of shorter numbers, Eastwood piled on the pressure and secured a 4-try bonus point, including a push over drive ending in a 5-pointer to number 8 Michael Kovacic.
At 29-0 down, Randwick threw caution to the wind and produced two consolation 7-point plays to put some respectability back on the scoreboard.
Outstanding performances were lead by locks James Neale and Jared Barry while the front row contingent of Martin Plotstys, Darren Fitzpatrick and Sam Needs gave the Greens headaches all afternoon.
Consistent front-foot ball and assuredness from the set piece laid the foundation for the 29-14 victory.
The result was a devastating blow to the Wicks, who dropped from 1st position all the way down to 4th as Sydney University, Northern Suburbs and Southern Districts all leapfrogged them respectively.
The Woodies now elevate themselves to within two points of Warringah and one of Manly to sit in 7th on 56 points.
This sets up an enormous Round 18 clash with Gordon at Chatswood Oval next week, ensuring a nail-biting conclusion to the 2016 InTrust Shute Shield season.
Reporting for Eastwood Rugby
Freelance Sports Writer and Photographer
( you can see some of Blake’s photos of last Saturday in the photo gallery)