Finegan and Randwick wary of unpredictable Gordon outfit

Randwick coach Owen Finegan is wary of an unpredictable Gordon side who are capable of scoring plenty of points but wants his side to focus on their own game in his Shute Shield coaching debut at Coogee Oval on Saturday.

Randwick ended 2017 on a sour note, losing in the opening week of the playoffs to Warringah, but Finegan seems confident his new look side will be a different proposition in 2018, starting on Saturday against the highlanders.

“I watched their trial against Warringah and they play a fairly ad-lib style, they don’t seem to get into that pattern style of rugby too much. They’ve got a fairly flamboyant flyhalf (Pat Toeta) so we’ll need to be defensively strong,” the former Wallaby said.

Waratahs back Andrew Kellaway is expected to start at fullback for the Galloping Greens after not making the trip to Japan, while Tom Wong and Bryon Croke will partner in a new look Randwick halves combination.

“I’d like to see a lot of the little things that we’ve been working on, done properly. We’ve spent copious amounts of time on certain things, so there are no excuses and if we can do those things well, I think we’ll go well,” Finegan continued.

“We’ve broken the game down and worked on the basics of our defence and our attack and we’ve worked in smaller groups quite a lot so I’m hoping to see that start to pay off this weekend.”

Gordon will be without star winger Paula Balakena who is currently back in Fiji renewing his Australian Visa, but coach Mark Philp seems confident his side will hold their own against Randwick.

“They love to play footy, they love to throw the ball around. We’ve looked at quite a bit of footage and they like to throw the inside pass and tip on offloads so our defence will need to be really strong. I think our inside man will need to work really hard all day,” Philp said.

“Up front, they’ll be nice and abrasive. Finegan was a very abrasive player so you’d think that will come out in his coaching.”

Philp said his side is fitter and stronger than they’ve ever been after the club changed their strength and conditioning program significantly over summer, something Philp is hopeful will pay dividends right away.

“We were right in it last year when we played but we just let them play their style of footy in the second half and they got on top of us. The key thing for us is to control the game and play the way we want to play.”

Randwick will also use Saturday to celebrate and remember the tremendous legacies of Sir Nick Shehadie, Ken Catchpole and Peter Johnson who passed away in recent months.

Randwick (1-15)

Kiernan Rabie, Adam Freier, Cameron Betham, Nick Kellaway, Ed Kennedy, Lewis Taie, Jack Hayson, Ikapote Tupai, Tom Wong, Bryan Croke, Christian Yasmin, Ben Starkey, Devon Stoltz, Latu Latinipalu, Lachlan Anderson/Andrew Kellaway.

Gordon (1-15)

Sean Dillon, Cody Blackhurst, Raven Nurse, Andrew Chapman, Jack Margin, Nick Brown, Dylan Rowe, Talalelei Moli, Mike Kennedy, Pat Toeta, Josefa Caucau, Luke Lough, Alec Palmer, Sam Mete, Bill Freeman.