Dewar Shield: Endeavour Hills aiming to build on strong start

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By James Wong

Endeavour Hills are looking to consolidate their 2016 turn-around this Saturday against Box Hill in a top four clash at RHL Sparks Reserve.

After finishing bottom of the ladder last season with just one win the Eagles are sitting in fourth place after five rounds.

Endeavour Hills head coach Paul Maihi said he is pleased with his team’s progress so far.

“We have to be happy compared to the situation last year. However, we do know that it’s early days, they don’t hand out Dewar Shields after five rounds.

“We’ve set ourselves standards and benchmarks to achieve and I’m happy that we’ve done it to date.”

Maihi said his team will need to be at their best against Box Hill.

“I think Box Hill definitely has quality across the park. I don’t think we’re able to match their quality. We’ve got to play very smart rugby and exploit their weaknesses.

“If you make a mistake against Box Hill you’re going to pay the price.”

The three players Maihi picked as the ones to watch this weekend have all come through the club’s junior program, forwards Siliva Siliva, Nathan Paila and Dave Muliaga.

“We’re expecting a big game from our local boy Siliva Siliva. He’s been a pillar for our forward pack and our front-row leader so we’re expecting a lot from him.”

Fresh off a win against Footscray, Box Hill coach Tom Navanua said things are starting to fall into place for his team and he is expecting another physical game against Endeavour Hills.

“I think it’s worked in our favour that we played Footscray last week. Endeavour Hills play with a similar shape to Footscray so we’re looking forward to a physical encounter once again.

“We have a few old players coming back from injuries and other commitments. It’ll be nice to have some old heads back in the team.”

Navanua said Box Hill’s structured approach this season will be the key to competing with the best teams in the competition and he is not shy about making his team’s intentions known.

“We’ve changed the way we play this year, last year we were renowned for our backline and getting the ball out but we’re starting to get more structure.

“Everything’s videoed now so everyone’s watching our games. We’re not hiding or trying to play it down. The same thing is going to happen this week.

“We’ll try to grind the first twenty minutes. We’re looking to build that pressure until it breaks and we can release our backline.”