Eastwood Preview Round 12
By Paul Treanor
A full house at Millner last Saturday with rain closing all Council grounds over Warringah way and Eastwood generously offering its grounds for Colts to join Grade at the Millner complex. It turned out to be a very successful day ending up with six wins and one loss (by a mere seven points) for the club.
Manly and University continue to set a cracking pace and so the club championship placings remain unchanged. The club performed well over the last three weeks coming up against the three top sides in First Grade and the two top clubs in the competition. They came away with a bag full of victories and consolidated all teams within their respective competition with the worst position fifth.
This week Colts have the task ahead of them taking on the strong Northern Suburbs sides who are performing well in all three colt grades. With the Colts winning their three games against Warringah they sit just five points behind second placed Northern Suburbs in the Colts Championship. Norths play University the following week so these next two weeks will be influential on the Colts Championship placings. Eastwood will be fired up to show the Shoreman they are genuine contenders in all three Colts competitions.
While Colts take on Norths at home, Grade travels to North Sydney. The clubs met back in the first round of the season and Norths will be wanting to reverse some of those results as they only won one game on that day back at the end of March. It shapes up to again be a full day of interesting rugby at both locations with teams keen to keep winning as we edge closer to the finals.
4th Grade 1st Place
Fourths backed up their win over Manly with a two try to one win in an arm wrestle against the second placed Warringah. The game was in the balance until the final whistle as you would expect when the two top sides clash.
Only eight players who took on Warringah are in this week’s published run-on side. Only three forwards remain, with Robbie Hendricks, Lachie Parker and Paul Ng Shiu moving up to Third Grade and Daniel Minto along with Jason Havea out this week. Coming in from last week’s bench are Ed Neely, Luke Ferris and Coren Shore. They will be joined by Sam Bennetts and Jack Leslie to make the new starting pack. Changes have not been restricted to the forwards with Daniel Bystrom coming off the bench to replace Jack Philps and Alex Leslie comes in for Peli Lavaka in the back line. It will be interesting to see how these changes impact on the teams performance.
This week’s opponents are not travelling that well sitting in10th place and coming off a 80 – 8 loss to Penrith. They have a 151 negative point differential and lost 30 – 10 in Round One when they last played Eastwood. With only three wins against their name it would need a huge upset for them to match the strong Eastwood side even with the changes to personnel.
3rd Grade equal 5th Place
Third Grade’s winning streak came to an end at the hands of Warringah when they fell agonisingly short by a converted try, with a final attacking move coming to an end on the line. The loss sees them drop back one place equal with two other sides and now 11 points out of the top two. With only seven games left before the finals and the benefits of a top two finish up for grabs all games become critical as any loss will make it more difficult to make that goal. Eastwood have shown they are capable of beating the top sides and so the march to the finals starts this weekend.
This week’s team sees Nick Johnson and Jordan Goddard move up to Second Grade and their places have been taken by Robbie Hendricks and Lachie Parker. Also up from Fourths is Paul Ng Sui who comes in for the injured Tiueti Asi. Tyler Spitz who was assisted from the field on Saturday is back on the disabled list and is replaced by the club’s leading try scorer James Martin who is returning after missing last week due to injury. Harry Bennett who was a late replacement in Seconds last week comes back into the side at fly half. Finally Winger Mick Tomone comes from the Fourths bench last week to replace Ben Coady who has also been called up to Seconds.
This week the game is against 11th placed Norths who we beat 52 – 15 back on 29th March. They have won their last two starts – the only wins they are registered – against Gordon and Penrith. With the other two teams on equal points playing sides ahead of them on the ladder a win here with a bonus point will improve our chances of progressing on the ladder. On form Eastwood should have too much class for their Northern Suburbs opponents and come away with a win.
2nd Grade 1st Place
Second Grade made no mistake this week. Scoring 8 tries, of which only one could be converted, to two was a resounding victory. The side certainly missed the reliable boot of the club’s leading point scorer, Pierre Hola, who was a late withdrawal from the side.
The victory came at an unfortunate price with a season ending injury sustained by Mark Frost. Mark is replaced this weekend by Ben Coady. Tom Alexander and Mark Prestipini are unavailable for this week’s clash and their places have been taken by Nick Johnson and Jordan Goddard. The only other change is Pierre Hola returning after missing last week forcing Harry Bennett back to Thirds.
Eastwood got their season under-way with a first up win over Norths 52 – 19 and should again prove too strong for them this week. Norths had their fifth win of the season last Saturday with victory over Penrith, 38 – 24 and sit in 6th place on the ladder. It is hard seeing them causing an upset this Saturday against the competition leaders.
1st Grade 3rd Place
First Grade remain in third place following their win over Warringah but have narrowed their lead to only two points. With Manly running away with the competition this year the battle for second place with its second chance in the finals has become more significant. With critical games coming up in the final rounds, games like this week’s against Norths must be won as University sits just three points behind us and will also be eyeing off a top two finish. With the top four sides all but decided it is the order in which they finish that has become intriguing adding to the drama of the weekly contest.
Mick Snowdon’s cameo appearance late in the game last Saturday was enough to impress the Coaches and he has been included in the published line up for the clash against Norths. He is the only change to the side with Shanin Proctor moving to the bench. Michael Kovacic’s strong performance against his old club earning him another start in the top grade.
With the win over Warringah now in the bank it is time to break the recent win one lose one streak we have seen over the last six weeks and put two wins together. Form would suggest this will be the case but no game is a certainty in First Grade this season. Norths will be smarting over their loss to Penrith last Saturday and will be playing for pride. Eastwood will be eyeing a top two finish and can ill afford to be complacent. Adding up to an interesting clash at the famous North Sydney Oval. The first round clash saw Norths put up a competitive effort before Eastwood overpowered them running out winners 34 – 23. The final piece of the jigsaw puzzle, consistency, now needs to come out from under the table and make this week the start a successful run into the finals.
3rd Grade Colts 3rd Place
Colts Three had an extra early start and it proved to agree with them with a 43 – 12 win over Warringah. A good reply to their first loss of the season suffered last week. This week they play the team sitting ahead of them by just a point. Eastwood beat Norths 17 – 10 in Round One and their only other loss was to competition leaders University when they went down 22 – 29. Eastwood had a 19 all draw with University and so this game should again be a close affair. A Eastwood win will see them move ahead of Norths on the ladder. With Norths playing University next week it is a vital match for both teams. The winner will be one who makes the most of their chances and goal kicking will be a factor in the result.
2nd Grade Colts 3rd Place
Colts Seconds had a good 31 – 10 win over Warringah and face the undefeated competition leaders Northern Suburbs this week. Eastwood had a narrow loss in Round One 5 – 19 when the two sides last met. Norths had a 50 – 10 win over Warringah in Round 8. This is an important game for Eastwood as a third win on the trot will keep them in touch with the two top sides, who play each other next week. Norths will want to keep their undefeated status and hold onto first place and so with both teams having a lot to play for it should be a fantastic game of rugby.
1st Grade Colts 3rd Place
With Eastwood’s 33 – 14 win over Warringah and Southern Districts just falling short of beating University in a high scoring game we now sit just two points behind second place. Our opponents this week put up a good fight in the first round before going down 29 – 32. Since then Norths have had a reasonably successful season with six wins and a draw from their 11 games which has them sitting in 6th place. Since their 24 – 64 loss to Manly they have won their last four games including a 19 – 13 win over Warringah.
Eastwood have had two wins in a row, beating Manly 21 – 10 and Warringah 33 – 14 and have a good record against the tougher sides. Eastwood have not put three wins together since the first three games of the season. This would be a great time to do it again and put additional pressure on Souths who clash with Manly this week. On results Eastwood look to be the stronger side and should now, like their First Grade Counterparts, start to put in consistent performances as the finals edge closer and they continue to grow in confidence.