Shute Shield Match Preview: Easts v Randwick – “There’s Not Gonna Be Any Love Lost”

Newly instated Eastern Suburbs captain Anton La Vin on the charge against Randwick last season. Photo:

Newly instated Eastern Suburbs captain Anton La Vin on the charge against Randwick last season. Photo:

by Brendan Bradford –

The ABC cameras will be down at Woollahra Oval as old foes Eastern Suburbs and Randwick kick the season off in style with another battle of the beaches. There’s almost a century of rivalry between the two teams but recent developments, including player movement and the revelation they’ll be playing together in the NRC, gives this match a heightened degree of intensity.

“I think if you go through Randwick’s side, they seem to be a whole new team and their recruitment processes have incorporated a lot of players from other clubs. That’s their prerogative,” said Easts coach Mark Bakewell.

“We’re happy to have a few guys from Randwick too. We’ve got Seilala Lam and Keith Mesema who I don’t think were really wanted at Randwick, but we didn’t deliberately go out there and poach them.

“We’re stuck in this NRC with them, so we’re on the same side of the fence in some respects. If it’s for the betterment of the game then so be it, but as far as this weekend goes…we’ll see.”

Flyhalf Dave Horwitz will wear the number 10 jersey for the Galloping Greens this Saturday. Photo:

Flyhalf Dave Horwitz will wear the number 10 jersey for the Galloping Greens this Saturday. Photo:

Wade Kelly, Randwick’s second year coach, was similarly blunt in his assessment of the match-up.

“There’s not gonna be any love lost, that’s for sure. There never is with the Beasties, especially after the off-season,” he said.

“We’ve got three of theirs in Alex Walker, Kuki Ma’afu and Sione Kolo and a few of ours – Lala, Keith Mesema and a couple of others – have gone to them. We’re happy with the changes. Some blokes just suit what we’re trying to do and some blokes fit with what they’re trying to do.”

The sides shared the spoils of two encounters last year and both clubs exited the competition in the second week of the finals. With all the comings and goings each coach will field vastly different teams this weekend – even if it’s been an effort to get all the Wicks players to training.

“As much as you try and put on a professional preseason, it’s really disrupted with the NSW A, Academies, Under-20s, Sevens tournaments and Tonga A and you’re basically just trying to get them,” said Kelly.

“(Fly-half Dave) Horwitz hasn’t done a session, Kuki Ma’afu has been gone since Christmas with Tonga and Pieter Englebrecht has been with NSW A so we haven’t seen much of them.”

After playing for NSW Under-20s today (Wednesday) Horwitz will have one training session on Thursday and start on Saturday outside former Warringah halfback and Australian Schoolboys’ representative Tim Donlan. Sam Figg captains the side while ex-West Harbour lock Alfred Pinomi makes his Wicks debut. Sione Kolo is out with a calf injury and former Northern Suburbs centre, Bill Meakes, is still on contract with Gloucester for another couple of weeks.

The Beasties will be boosted by their own ex-Northern Suburbs back with Chris Tuatara-Morrison joining the club late last week from the Western Force. Tuatara-Morrison will partner Mesema in the centres with Lam at openside flanker after training at hooker over the summer with the Waratahs. Outside back and Easts stalwart Anton La Vin has been appointed captain following the retirement of Pauli Taumoepeau last year.

He’s the logical choice,” said Bakewell.

“He’s been down here for a long time and he’s played a lot of first grade games. He’s a good guy and he’s very passionate about the club and about Easts and Randwick and I’ve got a lot of time for him. He’s pumped up.”

The match kicks-off at 3:10pm on Saturday and can be viewed on ABC 1.

Eastern Suburbs v Randwick @ Woollahra Oval 3:00pm (LIVE ON ABC TV)

Eastern Suburbs: 1. Cooper Chapman, 2. Billy Johnstone, 3. Clay Brodie, 4. Gab Passmore, 5. Richard Stanford, 6. Matthew McKay, 7. Seilala Lam, 8. Keliti Vaingalo, 9. Luke Irwin, 10. Henry Hudson, 11. Damon Anderson, 12. Kieth Mesema 13. Chris Tuatara-Morrison 14. Anton La Vin (c), 15. Jeremy Raftos. 

Randwick: 1. Toa Asa, 2. Alex Walker, 3. Tristan Goodbody, 4. Dan Falefa, 5. Alfred Pinomi, 6. Tom Bennett, 7. Mark Baldwin, 8. Sam Figg (c), 9. Tim Donlan, 10. David Horwitz, 11. Ethan Ford, 12. Pieter Englebrecht, 13. Kuki Ma’afu, 14. Tim Wright, 15. Liam Windon.

Referee: Angus Gardner

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