Shute Shield Colts Round 9: Easts back on track but face tough test against Gordon
Eastern Suburbs started the 2019 colts season full of promise after recruiting an impressive class of school leavers to Woollahra Oval.
New colts coach Ben Staunton liked what he saw of his new squad during preseason, but things didn’t quite go to plan from there.
A month into the regular season, the highly touted Beasties were winless after losses to Sydney Uni, Warringah, Manly and Randwick.
“It’s been a learning curve for everyone involved. We had a slight change in direction with our colts program this year and it took a bit of time to work out how everything runs and how things are done in this comp,” Staunton said.
“We also started the year with a few games against some very well established colts programs but I think of late we’re starting to make up some ground and I’d like to think that we’re moving in the right direction.”
Staunton admitted he underestimated how difficult it would be to welcome so many first year players into the program in their first year out of school.
“It took a little bit but I think we’ve got a better understanding of each other now and we’ve started to play better together as a group.
“For example, we’ve got three out and out No.9s playing from firsts to thirds and they all play completely different games.
“You’ve got Seb Strang who has a strong running game and is quite physical, then you’ve got Wilson Dulieu who’s an electric runner and you’ve got AJ Wallington who gets to the ball really quickly and provides great service.
“It’s taken the entire squad time to work out how to play off guys like that and for us to learn to play to our shape and patterns around it.”
Fortunately though for Staunton and Beasties fans, things have started to click and Easts will look for their fourth straight win on Friday night, when they take on another “well established colts program,” in Gordon.
As two of the few clubs that both field four colts teams, Easts and Gordon have seen plenty of each other so far this year.
The respective fourth grade sides have already played each other four times this season and incredibly, three of those games have ended in a draw.
Staunton said he expects the tight contests to continue right across the grades this week.
“We played Gordon in the preseason and we know they’re strong right across the grades. They’ve got a great colts program and we know it’s going to be a tough, physical battle,” he said,
“It’s exciting that it’s going to be a night game as well, that always adds something a little different to the match and certain teams react better to that than others.”
In the rounds other matches, Souths and Norths will both be desperate to move up the ladder when they meet at Forshaw while at Rat Park Warringah play Eastwood for a spot in the top six.
Elsewhere, Manly host West Harbour and Western Sydney play Randwick.