Shute Shield: Deegan confident Randwick are still far from their best

Randwick flyhalf Andrew Deegan believes his side will continue to get better each week and play their best rugby at the right time of the season this year.

Deegan scored 24 points and the match winning try in the Galloping Greens’ 29-22 win over reigning premiers Norths on Saturday but the 22-year old was quick to share the credit with his teammates.

“I don’t think I can take too much credit for that, it was our tight five that did the hard work to win most of those those penalties,” he said.

“Coming off the back of a disappointing draw against Eastwood, we knew playing Norths at home would be really tough so it was great to get the result but also to fix a few of the mistakes that we made the week before.”

After blowing a 14-point lead in round 7, Randwick kicked five penalty goals in the opening 45 minutes against Norths to take a 15-10 lead, however Deegan said the decision to take the points wasn’t a tactic heading into the match.

“It was kind of just the feel of the game and it allowed us to slowly chip away at them. Usually at Randwick we look to run the ball as much as possible and we don’t kick a lot of penalty goals but I think it’s great for us to know that we can win playing two different styles of rugby,” he said.

“Scoreboard pressure is really important so if we can take easy points when they are on offer and keep the scoreboard ticking over, then as a fit, mobile team we can look to attack a little more towards the end of the halves when our opposition is tiring out.”

Randwick sit in fifth position with five wins from their opening eight matches but Deegan believes his side is still only scratching the surface this season.

“It’s been a good start but I think the best thing is that we’re learning every time we play. After every match review, we’re implementing what we learnt ahead of the next game and last weekend was the perfect example of that,” he said.

“We blew a big lead against Eastwood the week before and we knew we couldn’t afford to do that again. If we had of played Norths a week earlier, I think we could have easily lost that match.”

A young Randwick side led the competition for the majority of the regular season in 2016 but fell away towards the end of the year and were knocked out by Southern Districts in the opening week of the finals.

While Deegan said the group hasn’t spoken a lot about last year, he was confident that Randwick will time their run better this season.

“We’ve retained the majority of that playing group, so we’ve been able to continue to develop as a side. Hopefully this year when we get to the business end of the season, we can reflect back on some of the mistakes we made and learn from them.”

While Waratahs Andrew Kellaway and Reece Robinson have both featured regularly this year, Deegan said he’s been just as impressed with some of the lesser known players at the club.

“Our forwards have been great. Look at Jock Armstrong our lock, week in week out he’s one of our most consistent performers. Ed Kennedy is another who has come into first grade and is really impressing in attack and defence,” he said.

“Then you’ve got Adam Freier who must be 58, but he’s still playing 80 consistent minutes each week, so we’ve got a really good mix at the moment.”

Deegan is in his second year training with the NSW Waratahs but said he’s happy to bide his time in the Shute Shield as he continues to develop.

“I’d like to think I’m getting closer but I still think I’ve got a lot to learn and improve on. If the opportunity comes at Super Rugby level, I’ll jump at it but at the moment I’m focussing on developing my game as much as possible.

“The way Randwick plays is ideal for that. At No.10 I get my hand on the ball a lot and get plenty of touches and it allows me to work on the things I’m picking up from training with the more experienced guys at the Waratahs.”

Deegan and Randwick host Gordon at Coogee Oval this weekend.