Intrust Shute Shield: Updated road to the finals
With two rounds remaining, the race to the Intrust Shute Shield finals is still wide open, with just 11 competition points separating the top eight sides.
Randwick, Sydney Uni, Northern Suburbs and Southern Districts can all secure a finals spot with one win in the coming fortnight, while Warringah, Manly, Eastwood and Eastern Suburbs will all most likely need to win both their matches if they are to book a spot in the playoffs.
1st – Randwick (61pts): Eastwood (A), Warringah (H)
Randwick were brilliant in their 28-24 victory over Southern Districts on Saturday but finish the year with two tough matches against Eastwood and Warringah. On Saturday’s form, the Galloping Greens will be tough to beat but will need to be at their best in both matches if they are to claim the minor premiership and secure a home semi final.
2nd – Sydney University (59pts): West Harbour (A), Parramatta (H)
Sydney Uni fought back from 34-0 to beat Eastern Suburbs 43-41 on Saturday and all but secured a home semi final in the opening week of the playoffs. The Students should beat West Harbour and Parramatta in the final two rounds and could secure the minor premiership if Randwick drop a match. Tim Davidson may also take the opportunity to rest some key players in the lead up to the finals.
3rd – Northern Suburbs (58pts): Parramatta (A), Manly (H)
Norths continued their strong form with a bonus point win over West Harbour on Saturday and have now won their last eight straight matches. The Shoreman face an in-form Parramatta side this week before travelling to Manly to face a Marlins side who will be playing for their season. While both matches will be tough, two wins could be enough to secure a week one semi final at North Sydney Oval, where Norths have lost just once this year.
4th – Southern Districts (58pts): Penrith (H), Eastern Suburbs (A)
Southern Districts were flat in a disappointing four point loss to Randwick on Saturday and have dropped to fourth. The Rebels should bounce back against Penrith this week before a final round clash against Easts at Woollahra. Centre Denny Godinet and former Kiwi rugby league international Kevin Locke are both expected to be fit in the coming weeks which could give Souths the boost they need to secure a spot in the top three and a home semi final.
5th – Warringah (53pts): Eastern Suburbs (H), Randwick (A)
Warringah continued their good form with a bonus point win over Manly on Saturday but face two tough matches against Eastern Suburbs and Randwick in the coming fortnight and are expected to be without flyhalf Hamish Angus for both. The Rats are averaging more than 40 points a match in recent weeks and are playing with plenty of confidence. Two wins will secure a spot in the playoffs, one win and a bonus point may be enough.
6th – Manly (52pts): Gordon (H), Northern Suburbs (A)
Manly will be disappointed with their performance against Warringah but should bounce back and claim a bonus point win over Gordon this week. That will set up a final round showdown against Northern Suburbs which could determine their season. At their best, Manly can beat anyone but they’ll need to find consistency in the coming weeks if they are to reach the grand final for the second straight year.
7th – Eastwood (51pts): Randwick (H), Gordon (A)
Presuming Warringah and Manly both win at least one of their final two matches, Eastwood will need to beat competition leaders Randwick this weekend and Gordon in the final round to claim a spot in the finals. The reigning premiers have struggled in recent weeks and will need a near perfect performance to beat Randwick on Saturday. It’s a tough ask, but certainly not impossible for the Woodies, who will make the competition leaders very nervous if they scrape into the playoffs.
8th – Eastern Suburbs (50pts): Warringah (A), Southern Districts (H)
Eastern Suburbs will be filthy after giving up a 34 point lead against Sydney Uni on Saturday. Darren Coleman’s side must now win their final two matches against Warringah and Southern Districts to be any hope of making the finals. If Easts can replicate their efforts from the opening 20 minutes on Saturday, they’ll be tough to beat however they’ll need an 80 minute performance in both matches if they want to be a finals team this year.