Shute Shield: Coaches react to tight round 8 matches

Warringah and Norths both claimed tight wins over their arch rivals, while Uni Eastwood and Easts took the points in their respective clashes. 

Hear what the coaches had to say after their round eight matches played over the weekend. 

Warringah 31-25 Manly

Thousands of Marlins fans were left shellshocked at Manly Oval after they watched bitter rivals Warringah score 28 unanswered second half points to claim arguably the most memorable Battle of the Beaches victory in recent times. 

The home side looked to be in complete control after leading 22-3 at the break thanks to a double to young winger Ben Howard and a third try to lock Alex Humphrey. 

Manly extended their lead with a penalty goal early in the second half, before momentum swung to the visitors. 

The Rats scored back to back tries to reduce the deficit to one point, then stole victory when Boyd Killingworth showed the pace he’s picked up from Sevens and linked with Josh Holmes to score the match winner. 

“It was a pretty incredible day of rugby,” Manly coach Billy Melrose told Rugby News.

“We had opportunities to seal the win in the second half, then an intercept gave them hope. Warringah lifted after that, we went away from what was working for us and they ended up nudging us at the end with the help of some strong players off the bench.”

Melrose admitted the loss was a tough one to stomach, particularly in front of a packed house at Manly Oval, but said the group learnt some valuable lessons on Saturday. 

“I think we now know that every decision in every moment of a match can effect the momentum and ultimately the result.

“It’s a tough one for all of us but there were some good signs as well.”

Warringah coach Mark Gerrard described his side’s victory as the best he’s experienced in a local derby. Click here to read his full reaction. 

Sydney Uni 50-10 Southern Districts

Sydney Uni scored 28 unanswered points in the final 30 minutes to claim their third straight victory and extend the Rebels losing streak to four matches. 

The Students led 15-8 early in the second half, then took control of the match on the back of a dominant scrum. 

Southern Districts had few answers from that point on and conceded five tries in another dissapointing performance. 

“We finished the game really well. Our scrum and defence was solid then around the 50th minute, some opportunities started to open up and we took them,” Uni coach Rob Taylor said. 

“I thought Nick Champion de Crespigny had a tireless game and scored a great try from 30 metres out. Josh Kemeny on debut was also really impressive.”

Souths coach Donny Mackinnon said he was left scratching his head again after a fourth straight loss. 

“Everyone knows that Uni are an 80 minute team and unless you take it to them all day, they are going to match you pay,” he said. 

“We diverted away from our game plan in the second half and Uni took control.” 

Despite winning their first three matches, the Rebels are now out of the top six and need to turn things around quickly ahead of consecutive matches against Norths, Eastwood and Easts. 

“We’ve got to be really harsh on ourselves at this points, take a good look at the areas where we are making mistakes and go back to the basics,” Mackinnon added. 

Eastwood 43-27 West Harbour

Eastwood fought back from 20-14 down to claim a 16-point win over West Harbour and secure top spot on the Shute Shield ladder. 

With the match in the balance, Woodies forwards Ed Craig and Michael Icely both crossed to give the home side the lead, before Jackson Bird scored his side’s fifth try of the afternoon. 

The Pirates hit back through Tyler Fisher, but Kiti Ratu’s second try put the bonus point win beyond doubt.

Eastwood coach Ben Batger said he was pleased with the win but admitted his side is still a long way from their best. 

“We’re still leaking too many points and giving the opposition too many opportunities,” he said. 

“In saying that, I thought our attack continued to evolve and in the second half, we corrected the areas that plagued us in the first half, so it was nice to see the guys fix those things on the run.”

Pirates coach Mark Gudmunson was left frustrated after his side lost another match that he felt they could have won. 

“It was another game where we played well enough to be in front at half time, then came out and tried to stick to our same plans, but others changed their opinion on things,” a slightly cryptic Gudmunson said. 

“There wasn’t much difference between the two teams. We just didn’t take advantage of our attacking opportunities.”

West Harbour are 10th but Gudmunson seems confident that his side can turn things around ahead of a tough run of matches against Manly, Warringah and Norths.

“I’m sick of hearing people talk about how well we are doing in the circumstances. We are doing well, because we are a good team. We just need to believe that and start winning.”

Northern Suburbs 18-14 Gordon

Norths fought back from 14-5 down, then defended their line for the final five minutes to hold on and claim an important 18-14 victory over local rivals Gordon under lights at Chatswood Oval. 

Gordon fullback Jaline Graham starred for his new club and set up the home side’s two first half tries, before he left the field injured. 

Norths hit back through winger Nathan Russell then took the lead when Portuguese recruit Nunu Sausa Gudes scored his second try of the evening on the left flank. 

Gordon attacked deep in Norths’ territory late in the match and had every chance to win, but the more experienced Shoreman showed their class and closed out the four point victory. 

“It’s a tough pill to swallow, I feel sorry for our boys. They led for most of the game and competed right until the last play,” Stags coach Darren Coleman said. 

“Norths played well in that final quarter and took the lead, then had the calm heads needed to get the result. That’s something we want to get to.” 

While Coleman said the injury to Graham was costly, he said his side should have been able to find a way to score in the closing stages, considering the territory and possession they had. 

“That last little sequence was similar to the rest of the match for us. 

“We were just a bit off on our a-zone strategy and our attitude and execution wasn’t quite where it needed to be. 

“When you face a good team like Norths, you can’t afford to do that because they’re not just going to hand you points because you’re playing in the right part of the field.”

The win sees Norths secure their spot in the top three ahead of clashes against Souths and Easts. 

Gordon are now ninth and while the Stags are the big improvers this year, they’ll need to find a way to start winning tight matches if they want to play finals footy this season. 

Eastern Suburbs 40-20 Western Sydney

Easts scored six tries to beat Western Sydney 40-20 and claim their third straight victory. 

After a tight opening 30 minutes, the Beasties scored two quick tries just before the half time break to establish a lead. 

Western Sydney hit back early in the second half, but boosted by the inclusions of Mack Mason, Ryan McCauley and Tom Staniforth, the visitors had too much class.

“Easts did a great job of staying calm and kicking out of trouble when their attack wasn’t going anywhere. There was no panic in their game and they did a good job of slowing down our breakdown,” Two Blues coach Joel Rivers said. 

“Our boys need to be better mentally prepared to play the full game. Switching off in first grade costs points and matches. They need to know when to hit the reset button and bring the team back together to focus on the next process.”

While Easts coach Pauli Taumoepeau said he was pleased with the win, he said it was a long way from perfect. 

“I was a little disappointed in our second half. We made too many errors and strayed from the game plan. I thought our set piece was solid throughout the day though.”

Taumoepeau singled out Ryan McCauley as one of his side’s best but said he thought Easts needed to improve in almost all facets of their game when they take on Gordon in Orange next week. 

“Bar our lineout, none of the other areas of our game have hit the marker we’ve set. Our line out is still probably only just there, but the rest of our game needs work.”

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