Intrust Shute Shield: Round 13 Match Previews
Eastern Suburbs v Randwick
Eastern Suburbs face Randwick on ‘Old Boys Day’ at Woollahra on Saturday in a match both sides will be desperate to win to secure their spot in the top six.
Easts missed their clash against Manly last week and have been hit hard with injuries at training during the week. Zach Faumuina, Clarrie Moore, Sam Stitcher, Charlie Clifton and Joel Brooks are all set to miss the clash.
“The preparation isn’t ideal but we have plenty to play for on Saturday. We want to play with the pride and spirit that our Old Boys would want,” Darren Coleman said.
Randwick scored late to claim a 34-29 victory when the two sides met in round nine and Coleman is expecting another tight clash on Saturday.
“We need to control the ball and minimise our errors to give them less opportunity in attack. If we dominate the set piece and tackle contest, we can hopefully limit the quality ball that they get to their star backs,” he added.
After a brilliant start to the season, Randwick have lost their last two matches and have dropped out of the top six for the first time this year.
The Galloping Greens welcome back Waratahs trio Dave Horwitz, Andrew Kellaway and Reece Robinson for Saturday’s grudge match and will be out to attack from the opening whistle.
“I’ve been keeping a pretty close eye on them (Randwick). They’ve had a tough few weeks recently but all the signs of a good team are there so it will be good to come back and have a run around with the guys,” Kellaway told Rugby News.
“It’s always awesome to play at Randwick because they love to attack and that’s the kind of footy we all want to play.”
Ladbrokes: Eastern Suburbs – $2.10; Randwick – $1.70
Northern Suburbs v Warringah
Norths have pushed their way into the Intrust Shute Shield top six after a hard fought 23-19 victory over Gordon in atrocious conditions last weekend.
The Shoreman return to North Sydney Oval on Saturday, where they’ve leaked an average of just eight points a match so far this year and can give their finals hopes a huge boost with a win against the Rats.
“The club is looking strong at the moment. 1st grade to 3rd colts are a tight group and everyone is playing for the guy standing next to them, so it’s great to be apart of,” coach Simon Cron said.
Waratahs prop Angus Ta’avoa has been named in the starting side, alongside Reds lock and former skipper Ben Matwijow, who will play in the red and black for the next month before heading back across the ditch for another crack at the ITM Cup.
“Angus and Maj trained really well this week and fit in perfectly with the culture of our team so I’m looking forward to seeing them play,” Cron added.
Warringah claimed a bonus point win over Penrith last weekend and sit fifth on the ladder for the moment, with a handful of teams still to play their round 12 matches.
The Rats have picked up former Tongan international and No.8 Paula Kahoin recent weeks, adding further bite to a Warringah pack that welcomed back Sam Ward from Italy last weekend.
“The starting team is now more settled in terms of selections and with that comes understanding, confidence and more consistency in performance,” Warringah coach Greg Marr told Rugby News.
“We still have a fair way to go before I’ll be prepared to say that we’re at our best though,” he added.
Marr said he has been happy with the rugby his side has been playing in recent weeks but knows Warringah will need to be near their best to beat a Norths side playing full of confidence.
“They’re a very consistent, dangerous side with big strong forwards, exciting backs and a very good coach.
“They beat us last time in a close one, so revenge on their home ground would be very sweet.”
Ladbrokes: Northern Suburbs – $1.80; Warringah – $1.95
Southern Districts v Eastwood
Southern Districts play Eastwood in a rematch of the 2014 grand final at Forshaw on Saturday.
Following last week’s wash-out, the Rebels will play both of last year’s grand finalists and West Harbour in just eight days in a three game stretch that could define their season.
“It’s going to be really tough but it’s a great physical and mental challenge for us and something that I think we’ll take plenty out of going forward,” Souths coach Matt Barr said.
Eastwood got the better of the Rebels in terrible conditions back in round six and Barr said his side was eager to bounce back and begin to build momentum towards the finals.
“Out set piece will need to be strong to allow us to build pressure. They’re very dangerous with the ball in hand so our defensive structure and first up tackles will be crucial.”
Eastwood produced their best performance of the season to beat Sydney Uni in the wet last weekend and are building nicely towards the finals, however the reigning premiers have had trouble on the road this year.
The Woodies have leaked an average of more than 30 points a game in away matches, something they won’t be able to do against a talented Souths side.
“Away at Souths is one of the toughest games of the season. In the past two years, we’ve had some epic battles down there and I don’t think we’ve encountered a poor performance from them,” Stu Woodhouse told Rugby News.
“To beat Souths, we’ll need to limit the penalties in our half because Rohan (Saifoloi) is in good kicking form at the moment. They’re a very physical team, so we’ll need to stop their big ball runners to be any chance of winning.”
Eastwood are unchanged from last week.
Ladbrokes: Southern Districts – $1.91; Eastwood – $1.80
Manly v Parramatta
After missing their round 12 match, Manly have dropped to eighth spot on the Intrust Shute Shield ladder but still have a game against Easts in hand.
Despite their position, Marlins coach Damien Cummins said their isn’t any panic at Manly and was confident his side could bounce back.
“At this stage, we aren’t worried about where we are on the ladder but we do need to improve our defence, we’ve got the fifth worst defensive record at the moment,” Cummins said.
Hooker James Hilterbrand will miss the clash, however Manly welcome back Waratahs halfback Matt Lucas for a clash the Marlins can’t afford to lose.
“He’s a quality player so it’s great to have him back. The other players always lift when he is around,” Cummins said.
Parramatta have a tough weekend ahead of them, travelling to Manly on Saturday before facing Randwick at Coogee on Monday.
Despite that, the ever improving Two Blues aren’t backing away from the challenge and are looking to cause a handful of upsets in the back end of the season.
“The focus this week is on completing phases and building pressure as we try and deny our opposition space and possession,” Parramatta coach Paul Hardwick said.
“We want to trouble sides with our set piece and maintain our consistency for the remainder of the season,” he added.
Ladbrokes: Manly – $1.07; Parramatta – $7.50
Gordon v West Harbour
Gordon were in the mix against Norths in horrible conditions last weekend but were unable to throw the knockout punch, as the Shoreman kicked two late penalty goals to claim a 23-19 victory.
The Highlanders are still struggling after a horror run of injuries and will be desperate to get the points and boost morale at Chatswood.
If West Harbour are any hope of challenging for a spot in the finals this year, they must beat Gordon on Saturday.
The Pirates have only had two field session in the past fortnight due to the weather but coach Neil Tunnah isn’t making excuses.
“The focus is squarely on our performance this week. We know Gordon are a side that will work hard for the full 80 minutes and they are always tough to break down at home,” Tunnah said.
“We need to relieve pressure and clear our own 22 cleanly this week and we’ll need a strong defensive effort.”
Tunnah has made just one change to his side with John Stapleton replacing Tongan international Wayne Ngaluafe at No.9.
Ladbrokes: Gordon – $5.75; West Harbour – $1.12
Sydney University v Penrith
Sydney Uni dropped just their third match of the season last weekend, after giving up a six point half time lead in a 19-6 loss to Eastwood at TG Millner.
Uni coach Tim Davidson has made a number of changes to his side for the round 13 clash but said the Students certainly aren’t taking Penrith lightly.
“Our focus this week is on increasing our ruck speed and our defensive connection in the midfield,” Davidson said.
“We have talked all week about playing the way we want to play for 80 minutes. We were good in patches last week but good teams like Eastwood force you into playing a way you don’t want to through good ruck defence and ruck work. We need to improve in these areas and that has been the focus this week.”
Penrith are yet to record a win so far this year but they certainly aren’t shying away from the challenge against the competition leaders this week.
“Last time, Uni put 80 points on us so the focus is to halve that total and put some points on ourselves,” Emus coach Jeremy Paul told Rugby News.
Although the Emus are out of finals contention, Paul said his side still has plenty to achieve this year.
“We need to keep this playing group together. The turnover of players in the last five years has been incredible so we need to continue moving forward and believe in ourselves and work hard to achieve our goals.”
Ladbrokes: Sydney Uni – SUSP; Penrith – $21