Shute Shield: Randwick Upset Pirates To Seal A Home Semi-Final

The Galloping Greens celebrate Rennie Lautolo's try - Photo:

The Galloping Greens celebrate another five-pointer – Photo:

by Brendan Bradford –

Eighth-placed Randwick upset fifth-placed West Harbour 37-24 in an exciting match at Concord Oval in the first week of Shute Shield finals. Randwick will play Southern Districts next weekend in the semi-finals at Coogee Oval after the Rebels lost 33-27 to Eastwood at T.G. Millner Field.

Going down 24-3 after half an hour, the Pirates fought back – as they always do – but the difference proved too much to overcome as a Pete Samu-inspired Randwick side held on for the win.  

West Harbour were one of the most exciting sides to watch in 2013. Capable of the most scintillating tries from anywhere on the paddock, the Pirates had a fearsome front-row and hard working backrow to match and was rewarded with an admirable fifth place finish on the table. A poor first half and on-going defensive issues mean their season is over, but with Matt Briggs returning next year to continue his work, they’re destined for greater things.

Randwick started with a bang. Busting down the left flank after a couple of minutes, the Galloping Greens managed some quick clean-out ball to keep the Pirates defence on its heels before versatile backrower Pete Samu broke the line to dot down under the posts for an early lead.

West Harbour back Henry Seavula is a club rugby cult figure for his silky footwork and turn of pace, but it was the flying Fijian’s crunching defence deep in Randwick territory that forced a penalty and got his side on the board.

Henry Seavula was one of West Harbour's best all season. Photo:

Henry Seavula was one of West Harbour’s best all season. Photo:

Another Samu linebreak – on halfway this time – created an overlap for Ethan Ford to put loosehead prop Tristan Goodbody down the right for the Wicks’ second of the afternoon and a 12-3 lead after just ten minutes.

That should have been the wake-up call the Pirates defence needed, but five minutes later yet another easy linebreak saw halfback James Helliwell dive over in the right corner to give the Wicks a commanding 17-3 advantage.

Matt Coles had West Harbour’s best chance of the opening half hour when he toed a loose ball towards the tryline but was beaten in a footrace by Ford.

Samu’s fingerprints were on everything Randwick did in the first half. The devastating runner pounced on a loose ball, sucked in a couple of defenders and the Wicks were in for a fourth try a couple of phases later. With ten minutes to play before halftime, the visitors were right in the drivers’ seat at 24-3.

West Harbour are always deadly though, and when Seavula took a quick tap from a penalty ten meters out from Randwick’s line, fullback Shaun Treweek was on hand to dot down under the posts and make the halftime score 24-10.

As they did in the first half, Randwick started strong after the break with Ford diving over next to the corner post for a 29-10 lead.

Momentum turned in favour of the home side with half-an-hour to play though. Wicks openside Tom Connor was sin-binned for repeated breakdown infringements and Rory Sidey lunged over the line with several defenders hanging onto him to narrow the gap to 29-17 in the 55th minute.

With a one man advantage, the Pirates surged onto the attack and scored one of the best tries of the season. Shaun Treweek gathered a clearance kick on halfway and put a deft chip towards the wing which Seavula regathered. With just the fullback to beat, Seavula dummied one way, dummied the other, then chipped again and dived on the ball in goal to get his side within five points of the lead.

A 66th minute Randwick penalty put a sudden halt to the Pirates’ unlikely comeback. With an eight point 32-24 buffer, the Wicks were comfortable in grinding out the win and a late Ethan Ford try sealed the deal at 37-24.

Randwick will host Southern Districts next weekend at Coogee Oval.

Randwick 37 (Ethan Ford 2, Peter Samu 2, Tristan Goodbody, James Helliwell tries; Marc Kotezcky 2 cons, pen) d West Harbour 24 (Henry Seavula, Rory Sidey, Shaun Treweek tries; Jack Debreczeni 3 cons, pen) at Concord Oval. Referee Angus Gardner

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