Eastwood Preview Round 1
By Paul Treanor
Well it’s finally here. The first round of the 2015 Sydney Premier Rugby. With another successful season last year having six out of seven sides making the finals, Fourth Grade runners up and First Grade premiers we have the foundation of another victorious year for the Mighty Woodies.
Our opposition this Saturday is Randwick with Grade playing at home and Colts are at Latham Park South Coogee. We welcome all players who have joined us this year especially those running on in our Colts for the first time.
Randwick will come to play with the added incentive of wanting to beat the reigning premiers. They have been re-building and with winning Colts 1’s last year and some new recruits they will want to make a good impression first up.
Eastwood know the task at hand and will be looking to stamp their authority on this year’s competition from the opening whistle. It will be a great day’s Rugby at Millner.
Colts will have a baptism of fire against Randwick Colts and it will be a good start for the new season.
Fourth Grade as usual will kick off proceedings at Millner with high expections of going one better this season and win the Henderson Cup. The team has a splattering of last year side blended with players from first and second Colts along with some new players to the club.
Randwick will also have a bunch of new players to bolster the team that came seventh last year. This will be a good first up game for Eastwood.
Third Grade won the Henderson Shield in 2013 and fell one game short of making the Grand Final last year. They have new coaches and players this year and will be looking for a repeat of their 2013 success. They have four players from last year’s Colts 1’s including prop Joel Whitlock who played his first Grade game in Round 18 last year. Lachie Cannell, Nick O’Connor and Jackson Bird will be making their Grade debuts this Saturday.
Randwick finished on equal points with Eastwood last year and can be expected to give the side a tight game first up. Randwick beat Eastwood in the corresponding match last year so Eastwood will be looking to make amends.
Second Grade were undefeated going into the last week before the Grand Final only to fall victim of injuries to First Grade and illness on the morning of the match. The squad will be looking to make this right this year and go two wins better. Despite the loss of a number of key players from the club they still have a strong line up with a number of players with First Grade experience and in fact knocking on the door for elevation into the top side. The forwards will again set the platform with a wealth of experience in the pack. Daniel Minto and Dean Doumbos have been promoted into the front row book ending Tannous Ferris. Kyle Shewan makes his return at 7, while Tom Ellem comes in at 6 after missing last season. Max Page who played in last year’s Fourth Grade Grand Final takes over the half back duties from the retired Shanin Proctor, while Wes Sefuivia, a Colt a few years back, returns to the club and has been given the 10 jumper replacing Pierre Hola.
Eastwood were successful over Randwick in both encounters last year and can be expected to get their season off to a winning start.
Randwick will be a good test for the new forward pack. The game will see Sam Needs and Rob Lagudi make their First Grade run-on debuts as they join Hugh Roach in the engine room. You can expect Randwick to target these new boys to First Grade but they have shown they can mix it with the more experienced combinations during the trials. With Jared Barry out through injury and the retirement of Andrew Clyne, James Neale and Tom Alexander come into the side. Both have First Grade experience and we will be looking to see if Tom returns to form he showed back in 2012 before his injury. The back line is much the same as it was throughout last year with the exception of Nick Batger who is still on the injured list.
Randwick gave us a scare in last year’s match at Millner. They will want to beat last year’s premiers – as every team will – and will come to play. Eastwood will be aware of this and will be ready for whatever they have to throw at them. It promises to be a cracker of a game to open the season at Millner in front of our vocal crowd.
Can’t wait for Saturday !!
Colts have their first competition game away from home and will come up against a strong Randwick outfit predicted in some circles to repeat their Colts 1’s premiership of last season. It is always hard to predict what will happen with Colts as new players are brought into the competition.
It will be a good test for the three Eastwood Colts sides as they take on the boys from Randwick.