Intrust Shute Shield Round 7: Match Previews

Photo: Serge Gonzalez

Eastwood v Manly

Both Eastwood and Manly look to have hit form just in time for this weekend’s grand final rematch, setting up a bumper clash on 7TWO this Saturday.

The Woodies were too good for Southern Districts in tough conditions at TG Millner last weekend, with 12 points from the boot of Jai Ayoub proving the difference.

“I was really happy with our ability to play to the conditions. We had patience in both attack and defence and controlled the game well,” Eastwood coach Stu Woodhouse told Rugby News.

NSW U20’s hooker Ed Craig has been added to the reigning premiers starting side alongside Sam Needs and Ben Shorter.

Fullback Jerome McKenzie wasn’t named earlier this week, with John Grant named at No.15.

Manly scored in the final play of the match at Coogee Oval last weekend to hand Randwick their first loss of 2016 and will take plenty of confidence into the grand final rematch.

“We scrummed well, our defence had sting in it and we worked hard at the breakdown all day,” Marlins coach Damien Cummins said.

“Eastwood will have a really good set piece. They play smart percentage football and are always hard at the breakdown,” he added.

Gun Kiwi import Josh Turner returns for Manly at fullback.

Ladbrokes: Eastwood – $1.60; Manly – $2.25

Northern Suburbs v Gordon

Norths returned to the winners circle in round six, running in six tries to nil to claim a bonus point victory over Parramatta last weekend.

After a strong start to the year, the Shoreman had lost three on the trot heading into last weekend, with the five points keeping Norths in touch with the top six.

“Last week we were better in some key areas that we identified as issues. Our support lines were much improved. In saying that, we still have a lot of improvement in us and will ideally link even better this week,” Norths coach Simon Cron said.

Gordon were beaten comfortably by Easts at Chatswood Oval last weekend, but coach Geoff Townsend didn’t think the performance was as bad as the scoreline reflected.

“I don’t rate it as a massive step backwards after a couple of encouraging performance,” he said.

The depleted Highlanders continue to struggle through a horror run of injuries, but Townsend is hopeful of getting some of his stars back soon.

A win this week is crucial for both side.

Ladbrokes: Northern Suburbs – $1.33; Gordon – $3.20

Parramatta v Southern Districts

Parramatta are still chasing their first win of the season and were beaten comfortably by Northern Suburbs last weekend.

After a strong start to the year, the Two Blues have struggled in recent weeks but are expected to welcome back top tryscorer Tyrone Viiga for Saturday’s clash.

Souths were disappointing in a 27-15 loss to Eastwood last week and will be eager to bounce back against the Two Blues this weekend.

“We failed to capitalise on the opportunities we created last week and made too many errors. Our decision making needs to improve,” Rebels coach Matt Barr said.

“This week we are looking for composure, patience and consistency in our performance for 80 minutes.”

Souths captain Marcus Carbone will miss the clash, however Chris Nay, Angus Ryan and Kieran Black all return to the starting XV.

Ladbrokes: Southern Districts – $1.44; Parramatta – $2.65

Penrith v Warringah

The Emus had another tough afternoon at Concord Oval last Saturday, made even more difficult by the inclusion of former All Black Zac Guildford in the Pirates starting side.

Despite that, Jeremy Paul is confident that his side is on the right track and is getting better each week.

“The last two weeks have definitely been a massive improvement for us. We kept Manly to 29-5 and West Harbour to 28-17 in the second half of those games,” Paul said.

“We need to be more competitive in the first half though so we can be in the game. In saying that, we are improving and that is all I want.”

Their round seven opponents, Warringah, begin a crucial month of rugby on Saturday on the back of a 22-19 loss to the Students at home last week, that takes the Rats record to 3-3 after six rounds.

“We have to start building momentum by stringing a few wins together and become more consistent. If we get the right results, we should consolidate our position on the ladder,” Greg Marr told Rugby News.

Just six of Marr’s 15 starting players remain from the beginning of this season, however the coach is confident the club’s depth is strong enough to fill the void.

Ladbrokes: Penrith: $15; Warringah: Suspended

Sydney University v Eastern Suburbs

Sydney Uni snuck past Warringah last weekend with a penalty goal in the 78th minute sealing a 22-19 victory for the Students at Pittwater.

“Last week was definitely a step in the right direction. I was pleased we were able to finish the game and grind out a tight win in tough conditions. Our defence was greatly improved but we will need to be better in all facets of the game if we are to match it with Easts on the weekend,” Uni coach Tim Davidson said.

Davidson said his side was focussing on their set piece and kicking game heading into Saturday’s clash and wanted to see an improvement in execution.

Matt Narracott and Angus Roberts both return to the back three in a big boost for the Students.

Easts continued their strong start to the year with a bonus point win over Gordon last week. The Beasties have claimed a four try bonus point in all six matches so far this year and sit second behind only Randwick on the Intrust Shute Shield ladder.

Despite that, Easts coach Darren Coleman thinks this weekend’s match will be one of his side’s toughest challenges this year.

“Playing Uni at Uni is always one of the bigger challenges each season and something that we are really looking forward to. We’ll need to stick with their high pace and expansive style over the course of the game,” Coleman said.

“More importantly, it’s a good test for our whole club in regards to the club championships,” he added.

Ladbrokes: Sydney Uni – $1.73; Eastern Suburbs – $2.05

West Harbour v Randwick

West Harbour continued their good form with a 71-17 victory over Penrith last weekend and have now won four straight Intrust Shute Shield matches.

Waratahs winger Zac Guildford scored two tries for the Pirates against the Emus and has again been named on the wing, giving West Harbour further hope of causing another upset on Saturday.

Randwick flyhalf Andrew Deegan looked to have sealed victory over Manly when he kicked a drop goal late in the match last weekend, but the Galloping Greens were unable to hold off the Marlins late onslaught, falling to their first loss of the season.

“We were disappointed with a number of areas within our performance last week. I thought we showed great determination, particularly in the last quarter but ultimately we lacked composure in the dying seconds,” Shannon Fraser told Rugby News.

Fraser said he was confident that the loss wouldn’t break his sides momentum.

“Losing is a part of rugby and while we play to win each week, it’s important that we judge ourselves on our performance and not on the results.

Former Wallaby Adam Freier has been named at hooker.

Ladbrokes: West Harbour – $1.87; Randwick – $1.87

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