Shute Shield Playoff Picture: Where will your team finish the regular season?
With just three rounds remaining, there is still a lot to be decided before the end of the 2019 Shute Shield regular season.
Warringah, Eastwood, Norths and Sydney Uni are all in a tight battle for the minor premiership and home ground advantage on the opening weekend of the finals.
Below them, Manly, Gordon, Easts and Randwick all still have work to do to secure their spot in the playoffs.
Ahead of round 16, we thought we’d take a look at how many games each side needs to win in the coming weeks to give themselves a genuine shot at winning this year’s flag.
Warringah (52pts) – Manly (H), Western Sydney (H), Southern Districts (A)
The Rats control their own destiny but could still finish anywhere from first to fourth. Saturday’s derby is a flip of the coin, while a trip south to play Souths will also be tough. Three wins will likely secure Warringah a top two finish, which will see them avoid a difficult date with a top four side in the first week of the finals.
Eastwood (52pts) – West Harbour (A), Southern Districts (H), Eastern Suburbs (A)
Like Warringah, Eastwood will also be eager to finish in the top two and avoid a difficult week one match, but the Woodies will most likely need to win all three remaining games to do so. They’ve got arguably the easiest run home of the top four sides, but will need to be at their best to beat an Easts side who will likely be playing for their season in round 18.
Northern Suburbs (51pts) – Gordon (H), Sydney Uni (A), Randwick (H)
Norths face a tricky few weeks. Gordon will be playing for their season this weekend and will have no shortage of motivation, while a match up with a star-studded Sydney Uni side will also be tough. If they win all three matches, they’ll need results to go their way to jump up into the top two.
Sydney University (49pts) – Southern Districts (A), Northern Suburbs (H) West Harbour (A)
On form, it’s hard to see Sydney Uni losing to Souths or West Harbour, which means the Students could jump as high as first if they do so and then beat Norths at home in round 17. If they do finish in the top two and gain home ground advantage, they’ll be very hard to stop this season.
Manly (42pts) – Warringah (A), West Harbour (H), Bye
Manly’s gutsy win over Souths on Saturday gave their finals aspirations a huge boost. They need to beat Warringah or West Harbour in the coming fortnight to secure a spot in the playoffs ahead of a bye in round 18. If they can upset the Rats this weekend, they’ll have two weeks to prepare for a run at the finals. If they lose, they’ll be under a lot of pressure against a Pirates outfit who love an upset.
Gordon (38pts) – Northern Suburbs (H), Eastern Suburbs (H), Western Sydney (A)
Gordon have come a long way in 2019 but they still have a long way to go. They’ll need to win at least two of their final three games to book a spot in the playoffs, with their round 17 clash against Easts essentially worth double points.
Eastern Suburbs (37pts) – Randwick (H), Gordon (A), Eastwood (H)
Like Gordon, Easts will also need to win two of their last three. If we follow form, you could expect both sides to win at least one of their other two remaining matches, meaning the winner of the Easts v Gordon clash in round 17 will likely finish in sixth spot.
Randwick (32pts) – Eastern Suburbs (A), Bye, Northern Suburbs (A)
Incredibly, Randwick are still alive despite their up and down season. They need to win their final three matches, then hope both Gordon and Easts only win one of their last three games. It’s difficult to see happening, but certainly not impossible.
Southern Districts, West Harbour and Western Sydney can not qualify for the finals.