Eastwood Preview Round 4
By Paul Treanor
After a successful trip out to the bottom of the mountains last Saturday our four grade sides return to Millner this Easter Saturday to take on our neighbours, West Harbour, with whom we share a special connection via Jack Shute. They are also a key partner with us in the Greater Sydney Rams team in the up coming NRC.
There are close match ups in each grade promising a great day of rugby at Millner. It will be worthwhile getting down early to watch the lower grades. There appears to be nothing between the sides which should result in four exciting contests that go down to the wire. What better way is there to spend Easter Saturday than a great day of Woodies Rugby!
Meanwhile Colts play down at Concord Oval with Thirds finally getting to play another competition game. Again both clubs are performing well and should provide keen contests in all three games.
Pondering from afar this week it was pleasing to see six out of six victories and one bye by the Eastwood teams enabling them to push past Manly and move to second place on the Club Championship. At this early stage three clubs are dominating the top of the Club Championship Table again showing the strength they have through all Grades and Colts. With Manly playing first placed University with weekend results will have a major impact on the three club’s standings come Saturday night. This will also be a test for Manly who have been widely tipped as Grand Finalists in First Grade this year. Meanwhile Eastwood have quietly gone about their business and continue to rack up the wins across all teams.
Fourth Grade continued on their winning way with a 45 – 7 victory over Penrith last week. They are now in outright first place with their third 4 try bonus point win giving them maximum points. An outstanding start to the season.
West Harbour have had just the one win which was against Penrith which they won 57 – 0. Last week they had a hard fought loss to University going down 13 – 19. A good effort against last year’s premiers.
Taking these two results as a guide this should be a close contest with West Harbour wanting to stay in touch with the competition leaders. Eastwood will be wanting to hold onto first place and so a tight battle can be expected.
Following their surprise loss to Gordon last round Thirds bounced back with a 39 – 0 win over Penrith. They are equal with this week’s opponents West Harbour in Fourth Place.
West Harbour beat Penrith 73 – 0 two weeks ago and lost to University in another close encounter last weekend 15 – 24. On results over the last three rounds these two teams seem evenly matched and the game should be in the balance until the final bell.
Second Grade remain undefeated and share equal First with University. West Harbour have had only one win and that was a 60 – 13 victory over Penrith. They lost last weekend against University 8 – 36 while Eastwood defeated Penrith 50 – 5.
Eastwood form in the first three weeks would suggest they should prove too strong for West Harbour but it wont be a walk over. Another good game can be expected. Tom Hill returned from injury last week and will play again in Seconds this week. Shanin Proctor, who was not available for selection last week, returns at half back while Daniel Minto comes back into the pack in the front row.
Eastwood fought out a tough encounter with Penrith scoring seven tries and coming away with a four try bonus point win. The final result was 44 – 26 but not before Penrith put up a good fight and lead 12 – 10 deep into the first half.
West Harbour had a see-sawing game against University with the lead changing hands several times during the 80 minutes before finally going down by just nine points. Final score 30 – 39, but West Harbour showed they have a back line that can match it with the best of them and a pack of forwards not to be taken too lightly.
West Harbour will feel disappointed they didn’t put University away in the wind and rain and will be confident they can match it with Eastwood this Saturday. They will also be wanting to get their second win of the season and stay in touch with the top six. They have made just one change to the team beaten by University last week.
Eastwood who have now won three from three will be well aware of the danger West Harbour poise and wont be taking them lightly. They will be wanting to keep their undefeated record in tact and remain in the hunt for the Club Championship.
Injuries continue to play a major part of team selections and Eastwood have been forced to make a number of changes to this week’s side. Dylan Brass is out of the game and is replaced in the front row by Guy Millar who will be playing his first Shute Shield game for Eastwood after moving over from University during the off season. Coming back from injury is Cam Mitchell who is selected on the wing in place of John Grant. Blake Sutton retains the number 12 jumper. Michael Kovacic is out of the forward pack with Andrew Clyne replacing him after missing last week.
It shapes up to be one of the closest game of the season so far that should be a perfect climax to a great Easter Saturday of Rugby at Millner.
3rd Grade Colts
Finally Thirds get to play for competition points again after having byes the last two weeks. With little form to go by it is hard to predict the result. West Harbour have had one win, one loss and a bye. They beat Warringah 24 – 10 in Round One and lost to University last Saturday 0 – 55.
Eastwood only game was in Round One against Norths when they ran out winners 17 – 10.
Both teams will be wanting to put another win on the board and so an interesting encounter should get things under way at Concord.
2nd Grade Colts
This week’s game against West Harbour should be a cracker with both teams on equal points sharing third place with Southern Districts, Randwick and Manly. Both have played Penrith with Eastwood winning 73 – 0 while West Harbour beat them 39 – 14. Last weekend West Harbour had their first loss of the season when they went down narrowly 10 – 18 to University.
With both teams two wins from three starts it should be a hotly contested encounter between two evenly matched sides.
1st Grade Colts
Colts Firsts are undefeated and equal competition leaders, while West Harbour dropped their first game of the season 17 – 60 to University last Saturday. West Harbour will be looking to make amends and not want to have two losses in a row. But it wont be an easy assignment against a strong Eastwood outfit.
Eastwood have been building and had a tough encounter against Penrith last Saturday winning 33 – 5 with the final try coming after the full time bell sounded. West Harbour played Penrith two weeks back and won 29 – 10.
Again we should see an excellent game between these two sides to finish off the day at Concord Oval.
Good Luck to all the teams and a Happy Easter to all.