Shute Shield: Round 18 Wrap Up
Northern Suburbs and Sydney Uni secured a top two finish with impressive wins over finals bound sides in round 18, while Randwick and Eastwood also claimed victories to move up the Shute Shield ladder and better their finals prospects.
Elsewhere, West Harbour upset Warringah and Hunter stunned Gordon in the closing minutes.
Northern Suburbs 32-29 Eastern Suburbs
A 72nd minute Northern Suburbs’ scrum penalty against the feed and close to Eastern Suburbs’ line helped the Shoremen claim a 32-29 victory over the Beasties and secure the Shute Shield minor premiership.
In a preview to what we can expect throughout the Shute Shield finals, little separated the two sides in the first half with Norths taking a 19-15 lead to the break.
A horrific bounce early in the second half then helped Norths’ winger Reece Maau score untouched and claim a 26-15 lead.
Easts hit back minutes later through Ah-Mu Tuimalealiifano and retook the lead in the 68th minute when replacement prop Jake Turnbull crashed over from close range.
With the match in the balance, the Norths’ scrum dominated the Easts’ pack close to their line and earned a scrum penalty. Nathan Russell calmly slotted the three pointer to level the scores at 29-all.
Norths then worked the ball back down into Easts’ territory and after earning a penalty advantage, Max Burey slotted a field goal from in front of the posts to give his side a match winning 32-29 lead.
Eastwood 38-14 Western Sydney
Eastwood scored five consecutive second half tries to beat Western Sydney 38-14 and secure fifth spot on the Shute Shield ladder.
The Two Blues showed plenty of fight in the first half and were unlucky not to be leading at the break after blowing a try scoring opportunity close to half time.
But with the scores level at 7-a piece in the 53rd minute, Eastwood kicked up a gear and scored five back to back tries to put the result beyond doubt.
Tane Edmed, Enoka Muliufi, George Worth, Harry Wilson and Ratu Tuisese all crossed for five pointers as the Woodies claimed a 38-7 lead.
The Two Blues did finish what has been a remarkable season on a high though, scoring through Toti Mafi with the final play of the game.
While Western Sydney won’t play finals footy this year, the rebuild is well and truly underway and all involved with the first grade campaign deserve plenty of credit. The Two Blues will also feature in the 2nd Grade and 4th Grade finals.
Hunter 27-26 Gordon
Hunter have fallen just short of a finals berth, despite stunning Gordon in the dying stages of their final round clash to claim a 27-26 victory.
After trailing 7-5 early, Gordon took control of the match and scored three back to back five pointers to lead 26-7 late in the first half.
Hunter hit back through lock Ngaruhe Jones on the stroke of half time, then reduced the deficit to 26-17 in the 58th minute following a try to Chris Watkins.
Gordon looked to have wrapped the result up and led by 9 points in the 79th minute, but Hunter refused to go away.
After pressuring a Gordon clearance kick, Watkins scored his second try with just seconds remaining. The Wildfires then worked the ball down into Gordon territory and earned a penalty, which Connor Winchester converted to seal an unlikely one point victory.
Hunter finished two bonus points short of a spot in the Shute Shield finals but were another of the big improvers this season and still seem to have plenty of upside in them.
For Gordon, the loss means they will travel to play Warringah in a knockout final next weekend, instead of hosting eighth placed Eastern Suburbs at Chatswood Oval.
Sydney Uni 24-20 Manly
Sydney Uni scored three tries from a dominant driving maul, then held on to claim a 24-20 victory over Manly and book a clash against Randwick next weekend in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Students led early following a try to a long-limbed Jack McCalman.
Manly hit back after a huge Max Douglas dummy led to his side’s opening five pointer, then added two penalty goals to lead 13-7 at the break.
Uni opened the half with a driving maul try to reduce the deficit to one point, but Manly kicked away once again. Ollie Horne scored in the far left Manly Oval corner to give his side a 20-13 lead.
Uni responded with their second driving maul try in the 67th minute, then their third in the 72nd minute to claim a 24-20 lead, but then opened the door for Manly to steal victory in the closing stages.
The Uni lineout misfired with just minutes on the clock allowing Manly to attack deep in Uni territory.
But the Students defence held strong and a brilliant pilfer from replacement lock Mitch Ryan sealed victory for the visitors.
West Harbour 31-22 Warringah
West Harbour sent departing coach Joe Barakat out a winner with an impressive 31-22 victory over Warringah.
The Pirates laid on four unanswered tries on either side of the half time break to claim a 31-10 lead in the 60th minute.
After trailing 10-7 early, Prez Tufuga put his side in the lead before Kodie Hawkins crossed on the stroke of half time to give the Pirates a 17-10 lead at the break.
Kuki Maufu scored early in the second half to put the home sure further ahead before Tufuga barged over for his second to set up a match winning lead.
While Warringah scored two late tries, the result was never in doubt.
After a slow start to the year, West Harbour lost just one of their final five matches. The Pirate’s win over Warringah, sees the Rats drop out of the top four.
Instead of playing for a spot in the preliminary final, Warringah will now face an elimination semi at Rat Park against Gordon next Sunday.
Randwick 41-31 Southern Districts
Randwick jumped into the top four and set up a major semi final clash against Sydney Uni with a 41-31 victory over Southern Districts in the final round.
The two sides traded tries in the opening half, with Randwick leading the Rebels 26-21 at halftime after outscoring the visitors four tries to three.
Souths continued to fight throughout the second half but Randwick had too much speed and class and added a further three tries to claim a 41-31 victory.
No.8 Christian Poidevin and scrumhalf Dylan Dowling both claimed doubles for the home side.
Shute Shield Finals – Week 1
Northern Suburbs (1) v Manly (4) – Saturday @ North Sydney Oval
Sydney Uni (2) v Randwick (3) – Saturday @ University No.2
Eastwood (5) v Eastern Suburbs (8) – Saturday @ Eric Tweedale Stadium
Warringah (6) v Gordon (7) – Sunday @ Rat Park