Match Preview: Warringah and Easts battle to keep seasons alive

Easts Scrum Feed - Karen Watson

Knockout rugby begins two weeks early for Warringah and Eastern Suburbs who meet in a must-win clash for both sides at Rat Park tomorrow.

After a strong win over Manly, Warringah have jumped to fifth spot heading into the penultimate round of the regular reason, however a loss tomorrow will all but end their finals hopes. Easts are in a similar position after giving up a 34 point lead against Sydney Uni last weekend.

“I thought we played really well against Manly and on the back of that, our self-confidence is really improving but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Rats coach Greg Marr told Rugby News.

“Every game is sudden death for us so last week’s win is now ancient history, although we do take plenty of confidence from the performance.”

With star flyhalf Hamish Angus missing, centre Rod Iona was handed the playmaking duties against the Marlins and impressed in the No.10 jersey. In their past five matches, the Rats have averaged more than 40 points a game and Marr is hopeful to continue that attack against Easts.

“Rod really stepped up in Hamish’s absence and that made a big difference, but I am really happy with the performance of all the players at the moment.

“The focus is on maintaining that momentum, so the coaching team is trying to find a balance  between the physical work that is needed and keeping the players mentally refreshed. It’s a challenge, but it looks to be working at the moment.”

Easts coach Darren Coleman described his sides performance in the opening 20 minutes last week against Sydney Uni as “awesome”.

“It’s the best we’ve attacked all year,” the coach added.

Unfortunately, the Beasties wheels fell off after that, as Sydney Uni retaliated with some of their best rugby of the season.

“Full credit to Uni, they never gave up and played at the same pace for the entire 80 minutes. You can see why they’ve come back against sides so often this year,” Coleman sad.

Ironically, the Students did the same thing to Warringah a fortnight ago when Sydney Uni clawed back from 35-17 down to steal a 41-41 draw with a converted try nine minutes after the full time siren.

Coleman said he thought defence would decide the match on Saturday.

“They know how to score points, so we’ll need to shut down their ad-lib attack on unstructured possessions. They’ve got guys like Harry Jones, Josh Holmes, Rod Iona and Sam Ward who are all very dangerous attackers, so we’ll need to be at our best,” Coleman said.

The match will be televised live on 7TWO from 3pm.

Ladbrokes: Warringah $1.44; Eastern Suburbs $2.70

Warringah (1-15)

Rory O’Connor, Luke Holmes ,Manessah Alaga, Jack Tompkins, Ben Adams, Paula Kaho, Tom O’Connor, Sam Ward, Josh Holmes, Rodney Esekia Iona, Max Jones, Josh Gillard, Seb Wileman, Harry Jones, Tyson Davis.

Eastern Suburbs (1-15)

Steve Findlay, Ryan Dalziel, Clay Brodie, Fergus Lee-Warner, BJ Edwards, Joel Duffy, Rowan Perry, Sam Stitcher, Angus Pulver, Archie King, Charlie Clifton, Josh Toole, Alex Newsome, Ratu Tagive, Jack Maddocks.