Eastwood Preview Round 14
By Paul Treanor
Ben Batger reached an inspiring milestone when he took to the field against Gordon. He played his 150th grade game for the club and it was celebrated with a try scoring feast at Millner. A total of 47 tries scored across the four grades. Eastwood scored all but 5 of them. The biggest achiever in the try scoring blitz was Tyler Spitz who scored a staggering 6 tries on his return from injury. John Grant scored a double in Firsts while James Martin also crossed for a five pointer leaving them equal top try scorers for the club with 15 a piece. It was a great day if you like to see a try scored every three minutes, but not so great if you like your rugby competitive.
The scoreboard showed the total dominance of the Eastwood club racking up 266 points while only conceding 38. Of the eight halves of football played Gordon only managed to score points in three of them. A good case for the argument that there are too many teams in the competition for the quality of players available. Colts also had a successful day out, winning both games while Thirds had a bye giving us a clean sweep for the weekend.
We are just about to turn into the straight in the final run to the finals with five rounds to play. Over these next five weeks all teams have some important clashes that will determine where they finish the year. They will also have an impact on the club championship with the pressure of having to win week in week out is starting to show strain on Manly and University who are still the ladder leaders. Eastwood still hold down third place on the Club Championship 49 points behind University who are 44 points behind Manly. Colts are also in third place in the Colts Championship trailing Norths by 34 points with University leading the pack 85 ahead of Norths.
The Final Five kicks off this weekend against Randwick who are sitting fourth on the club championship ladder and will be a different kettle of fish to what we faced last week. The grade sides travel to Coogee Oval for this important clash while the Colts are back at Millner. There will be great rugby at both venues so come on down and support the Eastwood sides are they take on Randwick this Saturday.
4th Grade 1st Place
For the second week in a row Fourths kept the opposition scoreless. They scored 86 points in just 70 minutes of football on the back of 14 tries. They are ahead of Warringah by 7 points and will want to keep this lead as they play the Rats in the last round.
Once again there were a number of changes to the run on side last week. This week the chosen team sees Tyler Spitz and Robbie Hendricks move up to Thirds while Max Page comes down a grade due to the return of Shanin Proctor in Seconds. Sam Bennets comes into the side to replace Robbie. Tyler is replaced by Mick Tomone, while Paula Hafoka comes from the bench to replace Alex Maguire.
Randwick are sitting mid table with 6 wins and 7 losses and are currently on a losing streak. They lost to West Harbour 19 – 39 last Saturday making it four losses in a row. Last time the sides met Eastwood won 26 – 14 and with their form building nicely they should get us off to a positive start on Saturday with a decisive win.
3rd Grade 5th Place
Thirds have two big week’s ahead of them that will have a major impact on where they finish. This week it is second placed Randwick and next week it is competition leaders University.
Their 64 – 7 victory over Gordon was not the hard game they would have liked leading into these two important clashes but you can only play the game in front of you.
Adrian Wyper is out this week replaced by Robbie Hendricks up from Fourths. Nick Johnson has moved up to Seconds and is replaced by the returning Tiueti Asi, while in the backs Andrew Ferris has been pushed down from Seconds coming in at half back and Tyler Spitz comes up from Fourths replacing Daniel Bystrom.
Randwick has been having a good year with just three losses to their name. Two of those losses have come in the last three weeks and so they will be wanting to add to their win over West Harbour last Saturday and get their season back on track. Randwick won 20 – 0 back in Round 5 when Eastwood were going through a form slump. Since then we have seen Eastwood get back on track and putting on performances we expect from such a talented side. They are on a roll and will take it to Randwick wanting to make amends for the earlier loss. It is a game both sides will be wanting to win setting up the game of the round for Third Grade.
Eastwood have competition leaders University next week and will be looking for a big committed effort as both these games are there for the winning and will set up the foundation for a push into the top two should they win.
2nd Grade 1st Place
Eastwood dispensed with fourth placed Gordon 61 – 21 last Saturday after they were behind at half time. Gordon scored all their points in the first half and Eastwood showed the reason they are sitting on top of the ladder by running over them in the second half.
There are only two changes to the side this week. George Kent is out replaced by Nick Johnson, while Shanin Proctor returns after two week away and comes into half pushing Andrew Ferris back to Thirds.
This week it is fifth placed Randwick who are up against the form team in the competition and it will be a tough afternoon for them. They have won eight games but have lost three straight before getting back to the winners circle last Saturday. They have lost to the stronger sides this year including 12 – 48 to Eastwood. It is hard to see how they will match it with Eastwood on their current form.
1st Grade Equal 2nd Place
Another bonus point win sees Eastwood now on equal points with Warringah in second place. University is not going away and remain just three points behind in fourth place. Once again Eastwood got away to a slow start letting Gordon open the scoring before they clicked into gear and Gordon didn’t worry the scoreboard attendant again. The Coach will be wanting to stop this trend of letting the other team get a head start as the better teams we face in the next five weeks will not let us get away with it.
This week we see Benn Robinson return to his Waratahs duties after his one week return to Millner. With Tolu Latu again fit to take his place on the Waratahs bench Hugh Roach is available to Eastwood and retains his spot as hooker. After getting a much deserved rest last week Jed Gillespie and Guy Millar return to the run on side. The rest of the team is unchanged.
With both Warringah and University expected to win with a bonus point this week, Eastwood will have a job on their hands to match them and retain second place. Only three teams have been able to score four of more tries against Randwick this season, with West Harbour doing it twice. Eastwood could only manage two tries at their last encounter. Randwick have the third best defensive record although their attack is less impressive. Randwick should have won when the two teams grappled at Millner earlier in the season. It was only poor goal kicking and an unbelievable blown try that let Eastwood take the points with a score of 23 – 18.
Randwick will be without their Waratah players this week with Stephen Hoiles and Matt Carraro unavailable for selection. This has taken experience out of both their forwards and backs and will put pressure on the side to match it with the experienced Eastwood side. Their back-line this week is one of the youngest ever seen in the Shute Shield and will have their hands full dealing with the rampaging Eastwood in-form back-line that has taken apart much more experienced sides this year. Eastwood forwards also look to have the size and experience over their smaller opponents.
Last Saturday Randwick debuted a new full back, last year’s Australian Schoolboys flyhalf Andrew Deegan promoted from Colts. Andrew had a perfect day with the boot kicking six from six in their 38 – 26 win over West Harbour and will be looking to repeat the effort this week. Sitting in fifth place Randwick will be wanting to bring some consistency with some tough games coming up. They will need to win as many of the remaining five games are they can to ensure they make the finals. They had a draw with University, a close loss to Warringah 19 – 24 and a heavy loss to Manly 12 – 60 in recent weeks so anything is possible at Coogee Oval this Saturday.
Eastwood will not take them lightly as the stakes are too high to let this one slip. On the other hand Randwick will want to consolidate they place in the top six and with up coming games against Manly and Warringah they know they have to show up against these top sides if they deserve to be in the finals. It all points to a intense game of rugby that should see Eastwood take it up another notch and their power, speed and experience across the park will see them come away with the win and the all important bonus point.
3rd Grade Colts 2nd Place
With University beating Northern Suburbs 55 – 12 last week Eastwood retain second place with a meeting with University set for two weeks time. The game this week is against a side who have only won three games this season against teams filling the last three positions on the competition ladder. Eastwood were too strong for them back in Round 5 beating them 28 – 14 and have only lost the one match this year when they went down to Manly. Eastwood should again take the points and will want a good hit out to prepare them for next week’s top of the table clash against the competition leaders.
2nd Grade Colts 3rd Place
Colts Seconds bounced back from their loss to Northern Suburbs last week with a 40 – 19 win over Gordon. Their opposition this week sit just three point behind them in fourth place and had a one point win over West Harbour last Saturday. Randwick have won two in a row and will be wanting to make it three so they can move ahead of Eastwood on the ladder.
On the other side of the coin Eastwood will want to make a statement and not fall further behind second placed University. The sides had a close encounter last time they met with Eastwood taking the points 26 – 22. Goal kicking is going to be an important part of this clash and will be a deciding factor in who comes away with the points. Either side in capable of winning this match and a win to Eastwood will set them up for their next important appointment the following week with University. Norths did the team a favour with beating University last week 28 – 14 denying them any points and cutting their lead over Eastwood to nine points. Staying in touch with University this week and then beating them next week will put them closer to achieving second place.
1st Grade Colts 4th Place
Eastwood should have had an easy win over Gordon last week as they had only won the one game. The game didn’t work out as planned and Eastwood were lucky to get away with a narrow 34 – 30 win taking the lead in the dying minutes of the game. The game this week is against the team coming second and then next week it is the competition leaders so they need to find their A game if they are to succeed against these stronger sides. Northern Suburbs sprung an upset by beating University last Saturday (for the second time this year) leaving them just a point behind Eastwood adding to the importance of a victory over Randwick. Eastwood have shown the ability to win against the top sides and will need to be at their best if they are to take the points from Randwick who beat them 27 – 20 when they last met. Randwick will not be a push over having only lost three of their games and a draw with Northern Suburbs. On recent form Eastwood have a tough game on their hands but if they can bring the form they have shown at times this year they could pull off a much needed victory. A loss could see them drop further down the ladder should teams below them win this week. A must win for Colts 1.