Shute Shield Round 5 Review: Stags & Wicks cause upsets, Manly outlast Souths
It seems like we’ve said it for the last three years, but the 2019 season looks to be the tightest in recent memory and Saturday’s results show just that.
Gordon and Randwick both caused big upsets, while Eastwood, Manly and Easts all claimed tight wins.
We spoke to all the club’s to get the inside word from the weekend.
Photo: Andrew Quinn
Randwick 32-23 Northern Suburbs
Randwick claimed a second straight upset victory at Coogee Oval on Saturday and handed Norths their first loss of 2019.
Gary Bautz crossed early to give the visitors a 7-3 lead early in the first half, before Randwick responded with consecutive five pointers to Jackson Mohi and Freddie Dorrough.
The Shoreman hit back with a try to winger John Porch and took a one point lead, before penalty goals from both sides saw the lead change three times.
Jackson Mohi then scored his second of the afternoon to give Randwick the biggest lead of the match, which was sealed minutes later with a field goal to the Galloping Greens.
While the win sees Randwick move up a congested ladder, Hadley Jackson’s side are still ninth and have a lot more improvement in them according to their coach.
“We took another step forward against Norths, which was pleasing, but there’s still some glaring areas where we feel we can improve to take our game forward.” Jackson said.
“We led the way with our defence and then managed to execute when opportunities presented themselves.”
Jackson singled out prop George Hendry, No.8 Christian Poidevin and winger Jackson Mohi as his sides best.
Eastwood 39-24 Western Sydney
Eastwood have jumped to top spot on the Shute Shield ladder after a 39-24 win over a determined Western Sydney Two Blues side on Back to Parramatta day.
After trading tries early, Eastwood pushed away to a 15 point lead after flanker Michael Icely picked up a first half double.
Western Sydney rallied in front of a vocal home crowd and scored the next two tries to reduce the deficit to just one point, but Eastwood had two much class in the closing stages and scored three unanswered tries to take a commanding 39-19 lead.
Woodies assistant coach Andrew Clyne said it was far from a perfect performance, but was pleased that his side was able to back up after a big away win against Sydney Uni.
“The Two Blues were very physical and they’ve got some really strong ball carriers so I think they’ll beat some quality teams this year,” Clyne said.
“We’re working on being consistent like the best teams are, and walking away with a bonus point win ahead of Easts at home next week was important.
“With other results going our way it’s nice to see us at the top of the table, albeit after a quarter of the season, so there’s plenty still to do obviously.”
While Two Blues coach Joel Rivers was disappointed with the loss, he said it was a big step forward for his side compared to previous weeks.
“The scoreline might not show it but we were right in the game with 15 or so minutes to go. Eastwood did a good job of punishing our silly errors and unfortunately, that led to two late tries,” Rivers said.
“Eastwood should also be congratulated for the way they helped us celebrate “Muncher” and supported Back to Parra Day. All the games were played in a really good spirit and it was great to see both clubs mingle at the end of the day.”
Eastern Suburbs 36-30 West Harbour
Easts fought back from 17 points down to claim a crucial six point victory over West Harbour at Woollahra, their first since round one this year.
The out of sorts Beasties began well and led 10-0 following a Charlie Gamble try and a penalty goal.
But three consecutive tries to Pirates winger James Turner swung momentum to the visitors, who took a 27-10 lead to the half time break.
Melbourne Rebels winger Sione Tuipulotu scored in his first match for Easts to get his new side back in the game and after tries to Jack Grant and Will Maddocks, the Beasties trailed by less than a try.
Both sides played with 14-men in the final quarter of the match, but it was Easts, desperate to turn their season around who struck late, scoring through recruit Jordan Heyer to claim a six point win.
“The momentum of the game swung three times and we were just lucky to have it twice,” Easts coach Pauli Taumoepeau said.
“Wests put us under a lot of pressure after scoring three tries in a short amount of time, but I was pleased to see our guys fight back from 17 points down and show plenty of character and patience to get the win.”
The victory ends a three game losing streak for the highly touted Beasties and although his side is still eighth on the ladder, Taumoepeau doesn’t think his side is far out of it.
“I don’t think the top six are going to get as many wins as they collectively got last season, it’s a really tight comp.
“That makes each victory more important and hopefully that one will give us plenty of confidence in what we’re doing.”
“We play Eastwood at TG (Millner) next week. Top of the table at their home ground, it doesn’t get any easier.”
West Harbour coach Mark Gudmunson said it was a tough loss to take.
“We weren’t helped by a few rough decisions, but that’s what you can expect playing in front of a big home crowd at Easts.
“It’s not bad being able to have a Melbourne Rebels centre playing fresh off the bench. Tuipulotu’s carries turned the game.
“Our guys are shattered but I think that’s great. It shows that we have the right people at the club who care about winning and losing.”
Gordon 39-27 Sydney University
Gordon have marked what could be the start of a new era at Chatswood, beating Sydney Uni in all grades on Saturday.
The Stags produced their best performance of the season in first grade to knock off last year’s premiers and led for the majority of the match after conceding the opening try.
New flyhalf Sean Kearns impressed with 15 points off the boot as Gordon scored four tries to claim a morale boosting win.
“You talk about being able to beat the good teams but until you actually do it there will always be self doubt,” coach Darren Coleman said.
“That said Uni will admit they were significantly down on troops so we are not getting too carried away with the win.”
Coleman was full of praise for his backrow – Mahe Vailanu, James Lough and Jordy Goddard.
“We won the game through our ball control. We’ve played tough and defended okay all year, but we’ve just turned over too much ball to win tight games.
“This week we only had 19 turnovers in the whole match and had more than 60% of the ball.
Uni coach Rob Tayler said discipline hurt his side and while he was disappointed with the loss, he said his side’s newer players are looking more comfortable in the top grade every week.
“We’re going through a bit of a transition at the moment with player depth,” he said.
“22 players in our match day 23 on Saturday have come through our colts programme and we’ll continue to bring more new and young players through to build for a strong future.”
Manly 41-39 Southern Districts
Manly struck last to claim a two point victory over Southern Districts in an 11-try thriller at Manly Oval on Ladies Day.
In a seesawing battle that saw the lead change seven times, Souths went ahead with a penalty goal inside the final 10 minutes, but Manly returned the favour minutes later after a yellow card saw the Rebels reduced to 14 men.
“Neither side could maintain dominance for long,” Souths forward Marcus Carbone said.
“Every time one side scored a try, there was an immediate response from the other side and neither of us could find a way to put the other team to the sword.”
Discipline also cost both teams who shared five yellow cards and received a penalty try each.
“In the end, our set piece let us down at critical times,” Carbone continued.
“Every time we had a chance to close out the game, we made a crucial mistake that kept Manly in the game. We also gave them too many piggy backs out of their own half.”
Despite the loss, Souths picked up two bonus points from the two point loss and remain second on the ladder, one spot ahead of Manly.
“To lose a game where you have scored 39 points means we need to tighten up our defence and learn how to close out tight games. We’ve got a very young side and it’s still very early on in the season, so I’ve got no doubt that it will come with time.”