Coaches’ call: Who will win Saturday’s decider and why?
We asked the 10 Shute Shield coaches who didn’t make it to Saturday’s grand final who they thought would win and why?
Brian Melrose (Manly) – Warringah by 7
In a comp that has been as close as this and fluctuated all year, it’s hard to say. On face value, Warringah had a more consistent season, are healthy and in good form so probably deserve it more than Norths. But sport is brutal and Norths have the belief and quality to win it again. Even the smallest thing like losing the last match three weeks ago could give Norths an edge but with 24 hours extra preparation and inspired by the memory of Lachie Ward, I’ll say Warringah.
Stu Woodhouse (Eastwood) – Undecided
I honestly don’t know. If Warringah can match Norths at the breakdown, then they are very tough to stop out wide but if Norths dominate the breakdown, they’ll be able to slow the ruck speed. Last time they both met there was very little between the two teams but Warringah will have the luxury of having an extra day to recover and plan.
Matt Barr (Southern Districts) – Norths by 8
Norths have been there and done it before and I think that experience will be a major factor. They will be tough to beat at North Sydney Oval.
Shannon Fraser (Randwick) – Norths by 4
Warringah have a more complete game. They’ve got an excellent balance of power, pace and flare but I thinks Norths experience in ‘crafting’ out a win and the home ground advantage will see them scrape home.
Tim Davidson (Sydney Uni) – Warringah by 3
I think it will be an extremely close game. My heart says Warringah but my head says Norths. The Rats are the most dangerous team off turnover ball and Norths don’t make many mistakes so I think the game will be won and lost on defense. Both teams have defended well throughout the finals series and have been in good form. I can’t split them and will say Warringah will win from a penalty goal after full time.
Todd Louden (West Harbour) – Warringah by 8+
Warringah probably have more to play for as a club following the passing of Lachie Ward. They’ve got plenty of size, their support play is great and their defence has improve a lot. Plus, they can match Norths for pace out wide.
Craig Morrison (Eastern Suburbs) – Norths by 1 or 2.
Norths have been there before and I think that counts for a lot. Their defensive pressure has improved a lot in the last month and they’ve got attacking threats right across the park. Norths will need to nullify the impact of Josh Holmes and Angus Sinclair will need to direct play well. They’ll look to play expansive rugby but that brings Warringah’s broken play attack into the mix.
Mark Philp (Gordon) – Warringah by 12
I’ve liked the look of Warringah all year and I think they’ll get the job done today. Hopefully it will be a tryfest and if that’s the case, I think Warringah have too much strike power across the park.
Paul Hardwick (Parramatta) – Warringah by 14
I picked Warringah at the start of the year and haven’t changed my mind. Warringah have some great attacking players and their defensive structure compliments their transition from attack to defence.
Julian Huxley (Penrith) – Norths by 2
Norths are just so clinical. Their set piece is good and more than any other team in the competition they have shown that they are able to execute a plan to capitalise on the smallest opportunity. If one or two of these plays come off in the final it will be the difference. Having said that, the Rats have definitely got the physicality up front and the power and speed in the backs to win big games. It’s just a matter of if they can create enough space against a swarming Norths defence.
The outcome most likely rests on one player, Will Miller. If he is fit and has a good game Norths will be extremely hard to beat. If Josh Holmes fires, the game will equally turn in favour of the Rats.