Eastwood Preview Round 6
By Paul Treanor
It is a rare occasion that Rugby is played on ANZAC day and it is an honour to do it on its 100th year anniversary. It is sad news that a young Rugby player, Nicholas Tooth, lost his life last weekend due to a head injury caused in tackle on the Rugby Field. A stark reminder of the nature of the game we all love to watch. It is also an uncanny repeat of the accident back in 1922 that led to the naming of the Shute Shield. A legitimate tackle by our Jack Shute resulted in the death of University’s Robert Shute (no relation), who was a returned soldier from WW1. Certainly a day for reflection.
Again T. G. did us proud last Saturday with four from four as Grade proved too strong for our neighbours Parramatta. The story was not so pleasing over at Granville where we got off to a winning start but unfortunately our other two Colts side fell short to their Two Blues opponents.
This week we all play away from home and let us hope we can get all grades over the line. The two losses by our Colts and the clean sweep by Randwick over Penrith drops us back to second in the Club Championship.
As coaches frantically check players ability to hold their breath under water the big question at the time of writing is will Round 6 take place this weekend or be postponed to a dryer date?
This Round our opposition is Penrith who have had the tough end of the draw playing all the leading clubs in the first six rounds. They will be hosting Grade and Colts at Nepean Rugby Park this special ANZAC Saturday. Penrith is the team everyone expects to beat, but is also the team that has the opposition coach waking up in a cold sweat in the week leading into the game from the nightmare of being the team that lost to Penrith. This is the last game before we start to play the A sides of the competition and we will want to get a good win under our belts in all Grades.
Fourths continued their fine season conceding a sole try in their comprehensive 52 – 5 victory to get proceedings underway against Parramatta. The win and the bonus point keeps them at the head of the ladder with University just five points behind with a game in hand. University is up against Northern Suburbs this Saturday and will want to keep their unbeaten record in place as will Eastwood.
There are more changes to this week’s named side than you would find at Fashion Week – eleven in all. We have two new props in Mark Jelec Dozo, starting for the first time, and Harry Morton returning to the side. Jack Warfield continues on his road of recovery getting the nod at 4, David Rose returns from Thirds, Tom Murphy comes in from the bench at 7 while Connor O’Gorman returns to 8. We have two new players in the halves with Taylor Mathieson returning after missing last week playing half and Christian Hala replacing Gerard McTaggart at Fly Half. Malakai Koroi moves from Wing to Centres where he is partnered by Andrew Walker. Martin Wahbe and Daniel Bystrom return to the Wings.
Penrith have earned their lone point in their narrow loss to Southern Districts. They have scored just 49 points in their five games to date and will struggle against the strong defensive and attacking unit of Eastwood in this clash.
Eastwood and Eastern Suburbs remain the only two undefeated sides in Thirds with Eastwood sitting one point ahead on the ladder. Last week the team had a comfortable win over Parramatta 40 – 12 with a number of changes to personnel it took the team a little time to settle in. Wes Sefuivia move to full back resulted in him scoring the two opening tries while the return of Matt Gonzalez to the football field was a success with a couple of strong runs and a try against his name.
Thirds also have two new props this week. Daniel Minto drops back from Seconds and Dave Fangaloka moves up from Fourths after again coming off the bench for Thirds last week. Pat Benson has come up from Fourths to replace David Rose as the only other change to the pack. In the back line Wes Sefuiva moves to Fly Half, Sione Kupu takes his place at Full Back and is replaced in the Centres by Brodie Monroe. On the wings Nick O’Connor returns from Seconds and Mick Tamone returns from injury.
Penrith Third Grade has had a tough start to the season conceding 355 points while only scoring 45 (28 of which were scored against Manly in Round 2). they were defeated 0 – 107 last Saturday by Randwick and Eastwood will prove to be too strong for them this Saturday. This is an important game for the Thirds as they line up against Eastern Suburbs next week and will want to get this one in the bag first before the top of the table clash.
Seconds returned to the winners circle with a 24 – 9 win over Parramatta, whose defence tested the Woodies at times. The win with the bonus point puts them on equal points with Warringah and just two points behind competition leaders Manly. There is still a way to go to get the best out of this team and we can expect to see better performances as the season progresses. Again, as with Thirds, there were a number of changes to the team and it does take time for these new combinations to gel. Pleasing to see Lachie Cannell score a try on debut.
This week Joel Whitlock gets his first start in Seconds replacing Daniel Minto in the Number 1 jumper. There has been a reshuffle in the back line with Nick Batger returning from injury for his first game this season. Nick first game back is at Full Back which sees Alex Del Moro move back onto the wing and Nick O’Connor back to Thirds.
Penrith had another horror outing going down 17 – 130 to Randwick last weekend. They are yet to register a point and have a 428 negative point differential. Eastwood will be looking to further develop their combinations and make sure of the win.
With Southern Districts suffering their first loss of the season at the hands of University and Manly getting a scare from Gordon and not achieving their fourth try bonus point, Eastwood sits alone at the top of the ladder. The season is starting to get interesting with a number of important clashes this weekend that will influence the points table. Manly take on Souths while University play Northern Suburbs. Meanwhile it is a top of the ladder verses the bottom of the ladder clash at Nepean Rugby Park that is the only game we can influence.
Ben Coady proved the old adage – “The bigger they are the hard they fall” as he marked the big Waratah Winger who Visa problems only allowed him he travel to Millner for a game of Rugby last Saturday. Ben’s stand-out defence was justly rewarded by a try to cap off a memorable day for him and his family, who watched from the Grand Stand.
This week’s side is unchanged. Jared Barry who missed last week with a back complaint is expected to be on the bench this week. Mick Snowden is listed at Half Back despite coming off with a leg injury last week. John Grant has had knee surgery and his time on the injured list has been extended to around six weeks.
Penrith had their best game of the season last weekend when they put a scare through the Randwick coaching staff. Randwick lead 19 – 15 late into the second half before a couple of tries got them out of the danger zone and a final score line of 31 – 15. Penrith will be looking to go one better against Eastwood. Eastwood knows the journey ahead will only get tougher and will want to continue on the path of improvement and not lose sight of goal.
Colts 3 got things off to a great start with their second win in a row defeating Parramatta 33 – 22 scoring five tries in the process. The win and their second bonus point has shot them up into sixth place on the ladder. This weekend the teams either side of them, Manly and Southern Districts, clash and a win to Manly could see Eastwood pass Souths on the ladder. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to concentrate on the task at hand which is our game against Penrith. The Penrith side has two bonus points from narrow losses to Manly and Souths. Last week they went down 0 – 33 to Randwick who beat us 10- 24 in Round 1.
The recent withdrawal of their Colts 1 side from the competition is an unknown factor as to the teams make up and will be an added complication to the game. Eastwood will have to take this into account. On last week’s performance Eastwood should prove too strong but when you take Penrith’s performances against Manly and Southern Districts into the calculation Eastwood will need to come prepared for a tough game that could be closer than last weekend’s results suggest.
Colts 2 couldn’t make it three from three when the winless Parramatta side beat them 24 – 12. This week it is Penrith’s most successful side so far this year who will provide the opposition. Penrith held Manly to a 32 all draw when they met back in Round 2. Their last two Rounds however have been somewhat disappointing against two of the top sides including last week’s 0 – 97 loss to Randwick. Again, it is unknown what impact the withdrawal of their Colts 1 side will have on their Colts 2 team.
Eastwood will need to put their loss to Parramatta behind them as they go for their third win of the season. They are currently sitting in seventh place just four points behind Eastern Suburbs who play competition leaders Randwick this week. With Southern Districts taking on Manly a win to the Woodies will consolidate their position on the ladder.
Colts 1 get the Bye this week, which is been treated as a forfeit this year. That means they get a 28 – 0 win recorded for the Round and five points added to their total. They are sitting in seventh place, five points behind Southern Districts and six behind Manly – who play each other this weekend.