Intrust Shute Shield Round 4: Match Previews
Northern Suburbs v Eastwood
Norths suffered their first loss of 2016 last weekend, going down to an impressive Eastern Suburbs side 28-13 and will be looking to bounce back when they host Eastwood in the match of the round, live on 7TWO.
“Last week was really frustrating. We defended well, but made 19 handling errors in attack and on a number of occasions we had opportunities to score but made errors,” Norths coach Simon Cron told Rugby News.
Norths are expected to field an unchanged side from last weekend, but will need to improve their execution if they are to challenge the defending premiers, who beat Penrith 82-14 in round three.
“We were quite pleased with that effort, we worked hard for the entire 80 minutes. We aimed to lift the tempo whenever we could and I think we did that extremely well,” Woodies coach Stu Woodhouse said.
Jai Ayoub and Joey Afualo have both been ruled out of Saturday’s clash, with Blake Sutton shifting from inside centre to flyhalf for the first time this year.
“Norths are very much an improved side in 2016 and will surely be in the mix for the finals,” Woodhouse said.
“We’ll need to limit our mistakes, be aware of their speed on the edges and be patient in attack and defence.”
Catch all the action live on 7TWO from 3pm on Saturday.
Manly v Sydney University
Manly will celebrate their 2000th first grade match on Saturday when they host Sydney University at Manly Oval.
The Marlins were far too good for Gordon last week and claimed a bonus point win, however coach Damien Cummins still thinks his side can improve their defence and line speed.
Harry Bergelin and Richard Hooper have both been ruled out and will be replaced by Junior Palau and Chris Yarrington respectively, with Wycliff Palu also named in the initial starting XV earlier this week.
“We’ll need to match Uni’s set piece, they are always very strong there and like to play an up tempo style, we’ll need to match that,” Cummins said.
Sydney Uni fought back late against Randwick last weekend but fell just short in the 23-19 loss, their first of this season.
However the Waratahs bye week may have come at the perfect time for the Students, with eight contracted Tahs – Matt Sandell, Jake Gordon, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Jim Stewart, Folau Fainga’a, Brad Wilkin and Will Skelton – potentially lining up against Manly tomorrow.
Parramatta v Warringah
After strong showings against Randwick and Manly, Parramatta were disappointing in a 34-33 loss to West Harbour last weekend and remain winless in 2016.
“Last week’s performance was well below par. Our decision making at critical times was poor. We didn’t kill the ball when needed, nor did we get the ball out of play when required. In saying that though, our set piece was excellent,” Two Blues coach Paul Hardwick said.
Outside backs Josh Minhinnick and Johnny Poe will both start against Warringah at Merrylands, with Hardwick looking for an 80 minute performance.
“We are certainly good enough to compete, but a win will certainly lift the moral of all associated with the club,” he added.
Warringah let a lead slip before going down to Southern Districts by a point at Rat Park last weekend and struggled with both discipline and execution at crucial moments.
“Last week was disappointing however to not play very well and only lose by a point to one of the form sides of the competition is a good sign and we’ll take plenty of positives from that,” assistant coach Ed Doyle said.
Luke Holmes will play flanker on Saturday, allowing hooker Robert Kelly to come into the side. Rory O’Connor and Jack Sullivan will also start for the Rats.
“We are doing a lot of great things but just letting ourselves down in patches so there is no need for drastic changes, we just need to keep working hard and developing as a team,” Doyle added.
Penrith v Randwick
Penrith were beaten comfortably by the reigning premiers last weekend, but continue to show signs of improvement, with coach Jeremy Paul happy with how his side is progressing.
“It was a better performance than the previous week and that’s all I want from the players. We are building as a team and a club to play for 80 minutes,” Paul said.
“The progress might not be showing on the scoreboard too much, but I can absolutely see it at training and with all the hard work we are doing. It will click soon for us.”
Paul said defence was key for the Emus this weekend and they’ll get plenty of chances to work on it against a Randwick side that likes to throw the ball around.
The Galloping Greens beat Sydney Uni to claim top spot on the Intrust Shute Shield ladder last weekend and are one of just two teams yet to be beaten this season.
“We were pleased with the character shown last week against Uni, however outside of the positive result, the performance clearly identified areas where we need improvement,” Shannon Fraser said.
Chris Taripo, Lou Celona and Jack Johnson will all make their first starts of 2016 at Nepean, replacing Jack Pennington, Tristan Goodboddy and Mark Baldwin respectively.
Southern Districts v Eastern Suburbs
Southern Districts continued their unbeaten start to the year with a come from behind, one point victory over Warringah last weekend.
The Rebels new recruits appear to be filling the void left after the departures of some of the Rebels biggest names at the end of last season, helping Souths secure second place after three rounds.
“The aim was to get through the first month and we set ourselves the goal of trying to win those first four weeks,” Rebels coach Matt Barr said.
Souths captain Marcus Carbone is expected to miss Saturday’s clash, with Rohan Saifolo named at inside centre.
“We’re certainly not underestimating and we’re certainly very wary of Easts. We’re expecting a very hard game down at Forshaw on Saturday,” said Barr.
Easts claimed their first win against Norths last weekend in front of a big crowd on Ladies day at Woollahra and will take plenty of confidence into Saturday’s match.
Despite that, Darren Coleman was looking to talk down his side’s performance, acknowledging that Norths’ handling errors played a big role in the match.
Easts have lost Clay Brodie, Phil Mathers and Joel Duffy through injury and will need a strong performance up front against the big Rebels pack.
“The scrum and our physicality will need to be the focus if we are to contain Souths,” Coleman said.
Keep an eye out for young fullback Jack Maddocks, who continues to improve for the Beasties.
West Harbour v Gordon
After a disappointing start to the year, West Harbour bounced back to claim a moral boosting one point win over Parramatta last weekend.
“It was a real step forward for us. The boys played with intent through the middle for 40 minutes of the game, but we dropped off in the last 10 and gave a good Parra side a chance to come back and they did,” Pirates coach Neil Tunnah said.
Tom Games will miss Saturday’s match and will be replaced Michael Fedo, a player Tunnah expects to “give the side some real energy in attack and defence.
“Last week’s win was important and we got the monkey off our back, but we need to back that up with a good performance this weekend at home,” Tunnah added.
Gordon were beaten comfortably by Manly last weekend and have leaked 95 points in their past two matches.
“We were poor for 60 minutes, but finished with some real purpose,” Geoff Townsend told Rugby News.
“We are still yet to get out of the blocks and have been making too many mistakes in the opening 20-30 minutes which have compounded and led to opposition tries.”
Townsend added that discipline and patience would be crucial against West Harbour.