Eastwood Preview Round 12
Vs Southern Districts
Grade Forshaw Rugby Park
Colts Millner Oval
By Paul Treanor
Last time we met: Round 10
Firsts Won 42 – 41 Colts 1 Lost 29 – 34
Seconds Won 29 – 7 Colts 2 Won 15 – 5
Thirds Won 60 – 0 Colts 3 Lost 10 – 14
Fourths Won 41 – 15
4th Grade – 3rd Place
After three losses in their last four games Fourths have dropped from the top spot for the first time this season. They are now in a group of four sides with three losses sitting behind Sydney University with just the one loss (inflicted on them by Eastwood). The competition leaders face 4th placed Randwick in what is the match of the day for Fourth Grade.
For this week’s clash Pat Ferris retains the Hooker position, Coren Shore drops back from Thirds while normal rotation continues amongst the rest of the pack. Sione Kupu returns to the Centres with Nick Tregoning replacing him at Full Back.
Eastwood were comfortable winners over Souther Districts last time they met. Souths have not earned a point in their last four outings and are sitting in 8th place on the ladder. The week off would have been welcomed by the Eastwood side and they should return to the winning list this Saturday.
3rd Grade – 1st Place
The added pressure of being undefeated is no longer hanging over Thirds after their loss to Eastern Suburbs. They are still sitting in first place four points ahead of Easts.
Team changes this week sees Joel Whitlock drop back from Seconds replacing Coren Shore in the Front Row. Our own grown Swedish National Captain Rhys Allen has impressed in his recent outings in Fourths and comes into the Back Row replacing Matt Mattson. Sione Fangia returns from injury and replaces Tai Luani in the Centres while Jack Tourish retains his place on the Wing.
Southern Districts have just the two wins this season and were soundly beaten by Eastwood back in Round 10. They have not added any points to their tally for five rounds and should be outclassed by the Eastwood side who have been turning in some outstanding performances all season.
2nd Grade – 3rd Place
Seconds are in 3rd place with Manly ahead of them by five points and Randwick by three. Randwick play 4th placed University this weekend in what should be the match of the round for Seconds. Despite the three losses they have scored just two points less than Manly and have had two more points scored against them.
A big change up front this week with ex Colts Luke White, who recently returned from stints with Manly and playing in the USA, taking over from Joel Whitlock at Loosehead and with Tannous Ferris off playing for Lebanon Myles Hankin makes a timely return to take over at Hooker. Tom Alexander drops back from Firsts to replace George Kent in the Second Row and Ben Coady retains his place on the Wing.
Southern Districts put up a good defensive showing against Eastwood last time we met and should again test our patience and attacking options. Defence will be a key for both sides with Eastwood wanting to put in another solid performance before setting up a rematch with Manly the following week. It should be another entertaining contest with Eastwood taking the points.
1st Grade – 2nd Place
Manly remain undefeated and sit two points ahead of us on the ladder. The return clash next weekend is shaping up to be another blockbuster.
Eastwood has scored 113 points in their last two games and have shown they have the ability to score some entertaining tries. Coupled with Ben Batger boot regularly adding to the scoreboard they are clearly the top point scorers of the Shute Shield – some 76 points ahead of Manly and 80 ahead of this week’s opposition. Defensively we are second behind the impressive Manly who have conceded less than 15 points a game.
With Todd Pearce out injured for this important clash the Coach has moved Sam Needs to Hooker, Marty Plokstys to Loosehead and Rob Lagudi comes back into the starting line up at Tighthead. James Neale joins Jared Barry in the Second Row with the rest of the team remaining unchanged.
Southern Districts have made two changes to the side we played two rounds ago. Andrew Leota comes into the Back Row for Albert Hernopo and Australian Sevens squad member Alex Gibbon comes in on the Wing replacing Richard Williams.
Southern Districts will be smarting after that one point loss in the dying seconds three weeks ago and will want to make amends in front of their home crowd in what could be Ben Volavola’s last game at home against Eastwood before he heads off to attempt to make the Fiji World Cup side and then onto New Zealand to take up his contract with the Crusaders. Souths will not want to let Eastwood get away with the start they did last time, while Eastwood will be well aware of the Rebels capabilities to add points quickly and will want to shut them down for the full 80 minutes. It should again be an exciting nail- bitter with both sides keen to play entertaining rugby.
Colts 3 – 6th Place
The loss to Norths sees Colts 3 drop one place with this week’s opposition moving ahead of them by three points. The competition is tight with West Harbour on the same points as Eastwood, Eastern Suburbs one point back while Manly and Parramatta are a further three points back.
Eastwood have not won since Round 7 and need to get their season back on track this weekend or risk dropping out of the race for the last two final places. A loss could see them drop to 9th depending on other results. A win over Southern Districts is very attainable after a narrow four points loss last time and would lift them into 5th place. With the competition so tight both sides will be wanting to earn the five points on offer and it should be an intense clash to get things under-way at Millner.
Colts 2 – 7th Place
Colts 2 have dropped out of the six after going down to Northern Suburbs. They did manage to secure a bonus point by scoring four tries, which could prove useful as the season progresses. Southern Districts moved ahead after they defeated West Harbour. Eastern Suburbs sits in 5th just two points ahead of Eastwood while Penrith sit just two points behind then and West Harbour a further two points back.
With six points separating 5th from 9th each game is becoming vital. Eastwood will have the confidence of their recent victory over Southern Districts and their solid showing against the strong Norths side. As with Colts 3 both sides need this win and will be out to take the points. A loss by Eastern Suburbs, who have a tough encounter with Gordon, will see the winner of the Eastwood and Souths clash take 5th spot. Should Eastwood lose the winner of the Penrith and West Harbour match could move ahead of Eastwood depending on bonus points.
Colts 1 – 7th Place
The middle of the ladder remains a tight affair with both Eastwood and Manly beating Northern Suburbs in the last two weeks. Manly have jumped ahead of Eastwood and Southern Districts into fifth spot six points behind Norths and Gordon. Eastwood and Southern Districts are one point behind Manly with Eastern Suburbs another point back in 8th place.
The continuation of the momentum built up in the last two matches is needed, as we head towards the finals. After they stormed home in Round 10 to fall just short Eastwood know they can beat Souths this weekend – as do the Rebels. The task will be made more difficult with Rohan Zebib and Joshua Nohra away playing for Lebanon.
Eastwood have struggled with consistency and have not put two wins together since Round 7. Now is the time to get back to back wins and start a winning streak heading into the final six rounds.
With the ledger now balanced it is a very tight race at the top of the Cup Championship Leader Board. Randwick is sitting at the top just five points ahead of Eastwood with University a mere 31 behind us in third place. Manly are within striking distance, 109 points behind University. This weekend’s clash between University and Randwick will be critical to both clubs in their quest to take out the much sort after trophy this year.
Ben Batger continues to add to his points tally and remains the highest point scorer not only in First Grade but across all competitions.
Nick O’Connor cracked the 100 points with his third try against Norths and now has 20 for the season. He is leading try scorer across all Grades and the leading point scorer in Thirds.