Intrust Shute Shield: Road to the finals
Photo: Adam MacDonald
With four rounds remaining, just six competitions points separate the eight Intrust Shute Shield teams still in contention to claim the 2016 title.
In what has been the tightest competition in recent memory, most sides will need to win at least three of their final four matches to safely secure a spot in the finals.
With all that ahead of us, we thought we’d take a look at each sides road to the Intrust Shute Shield finals.
1st – Sydney University (51pts): Warringah (H), Eastern Suburbs (A), West Harbour (A), Parramatta (H)
Despite their loss to Randwick on Saturday, Sydney Uni still lead the competition after 14 rounds and have one of the easier runs towards the finals. The Students will be tested against both Warringah and Easts but you’d expect at least three victories from their final four matches.
2nd – Southern Districts (51pts): Gordon (A), Randwick (H), Penrith (H), Eastern Suburbs (A)
Souths also missed an opportunity to jump ahead of the pack on the weekend but are still in a good position heading towards the finals. Presuming the Rebels beat Gordon and Penrith, a win over Randwick or Easts should be enough to secure a spot at the top end of the ladder and book a home semi final in week one.
3rd – Randwick (51pts): West Harbour (H), Southern Districts (A), Eastwood (A), Warringah (H)
Randwick finish the season with three tough matches, making Saturday’s clash against West Harbour a must win. The Galloping Greens will be without their Waratahs stars for the remainder of the regular season but should be good enough to win at least two if not three of their final four matches. Anything less could spell trouble.
4th – Northern Suburbs (48pts): Eastern Suburbs (H), West Harbour (A), Parramatta (A), Manly (H)
Norths have been the big improvers this season but still have some work to do to secure a finals spot. Fortunately for the Shoreman, they play crucial matches against Easts and Manly at home where they’ve lost just once this year and have leaked an average of just 11 points per match. Despite that, Norths will likely need three wins to secure a top six spot.
5th – Manly (47pts): Penrith (A), Warringah (H), Gordon (H), Northern Suburbs (A)
Three wins in eight days shot Manly back into finals consideration after an inconsistent start to the season. The Marlins should take the points against both Penrith and Gordon and will likely need to beat Warringah or Norths to secure a finals spot.
6th – Eastern Suburbs (46pts): Northern Suburbs (A), Sydney University (H), Warringah (A), Southern Districts (H)
Eastern Suburbs have been impressive this year but will still most likely need three wins to secure a spot in the top six, meaning they’ll need to beat both Norths and Warringah on the road and upset either Sydney Uni or Southern Districts. It’s certainly not impossible, but Easts will have to earn their spot in the finals in the coming weeks.
7th – Eastwood (45pts): Parramatta (H), Penrith (A), Randwick (H), Gordon (A)
Eastwood may have lost their last two matches but its hard to see the Woodies not bouncing back in the coming weeks. The reigning premiers should win at least three of their final four matches and could push right up the ladder if they beat Randwick in round 17. Eastwood have struggled on the road this year and will be eager to secure a home semi final in week one.
8th – Warringah (45pts): Sydney University (A), Manly (H), Eastern Suburbs (H), Randwick (A)
Warringah’s finals hopes are well and truly alive but it isn’t going to be easy for the Rats, who face arguably the toughest month of rugby of any of the contenders. The Rats have welcomed back a host of big names in recent weeks but will still need to win at least three matches against sides above them on the ladder to be any hope of playing finals footy.