Shute Shield Round 7: Randwick & Rats impress, Woodies flex muscles

Randwick and Warringah both claimed impressive wins in round seven to add more congestion to the middle part of the Shute Shield ladder. 

Elsewhere, Eastwood were too good for Gordon, Sydney Uni beat West Harbour and Norths took care of the Two Blues. 

We caught up with the camps to get their thoughts on the weekend’s action. 

Photo: Serge Gonzales

Eastwood 28 – 5 Gordon

Eastwood secured top spot on the Shute Shield ladder with an impressing 28-5 win over Gordon at Chatswood Oval. 

The Stags matched the Woodies until midway through the second half, when the Eastwood scrum gained ascendency and the scoreboard began to tick over. 

With a Gordon player in the bin, the Eastwood forwards scored a pushover try to give the visitors an 18-5 lead, before Pama Fou scored to seal the result.

“It was far from a perfect performance but you can’t fault the guys effort and defensive display,” Eastwood coach Ben Batger said.  

“We talked and worked on our defence all week so to keep Gordon to five points was very pleasing.

“Pat Sio was immense in his first full games in nine months and Josh Anderson was fantastic on debut and showed he’s certainly good enough to play at first grade level,” Batger added. 

On the other side, Gordon coach Darren Coleman was far from impressed. 

“Saturday’s loss was big slice of humble pie. We ran into a “blue wall” and Eastwood dominated us at all contact points. That forced slow ball and errors from us. Then once they got scrum ascendancy the scoreboard starting ticking,” Coleman said. 

Coleman said physicality was the main point of difference between the two sides and was clearly disappointed with his side’s second half performance. 

“We went in believing we could win it and at half time that was this the case but from myself down, we made a lot of mistakes. 

“As long as we play with that level of physicality, we’ll be bottom feeders in this competition.”

Sydney Uni 29-10 West Harbour

Sydney Uni produced a scrappy performance according to coach Rob Taylor but still found a way to claim a bonus point win over West Harbour. 

For the second straight week, the Pirates missed the start and trailed 14-0 after tries to James Armstrong and Tom Horton. 

A red card to Amos Viiga for an illegal tackle then made things a whole lot harder for the visitors, but West Harbour rallied late in the game to add some respectability to the scoreline. 

“We were a bit scrappy but managed to get the win. I thought James Armstrong at outside centre had a strong all round game again for us,” Uni coach Rob Taylor said. 

“West Harbour are a decent side and I think they’ve got plenty of wins ahead of them in 2019.”

Pirates coach Mark Gudmunson was filthy with his side’s slow start and a number of contentious calls. 

“It’s a tough one to take. We went in with a good plan, but powers outside of the 15 West Harbour players that took the field stifled that,” he said. 

“We just need to keep working hard with referees on what we are doing and how they officiate. We went down to 14 men but then it was 10 all in the 2nd Half.”

Despite the loss, Gudmunson said he thinks the match may have triggered something in his players.

“We’re a force in this competition and we need to stop talking about being competitive and start talking about winning games,” he said. 

“There’s no better opportunity to do that than against the leaders of the competition this year in Eastwood at TG next week.”

Warringah 38-5 Southern Districts

Warringah produced their best defensive effort of the season to claim an impressive 38-5 victory over Southern Districts at Rat Park. 

After conceding an early try, Rats hooker Wes Thomas scored three back to back tries in general play to help his side to a 24-5 lead. 

Southern Districts threw everything at Warringah but couldn’t find a way through as the Rats defence held strong to hand the Rebels their third straight loss. 

Ben Marr and Josh Holmes then put the icing on the cake with two tries late in the match. 

Holmes was full of praise for his side’s defence and Wes Thomas, a Dee Why local junior who was named the most improved player at the club last year. 

“Wes worked really hard in pre season and now he’s seeing the rewards. He’s a great athlete with a great skill set and his ball carrying and defence has always been good, now his set piece is improving which is giving him a strong game all round.”

Since getting belted by Sydney Uni 50 to zip on Good Friday, Warringah have now won their last three matches and will take plenty of confidence to Manly Oval for the first Northern Beaches derby of 2019. 

“Derby week is a great week, boys who are new get to experience one of the best rivalries in rugby,” Holmes said. 

“It doesn’t matter how well you played the week before though because prior results mean nothing. We know how good Manly are and have a lot of respect for them and we’ll train hard this week to prepare for a big Saturday.”

It’s back to the drawing board for the Rebels who haven’t won since round three and face Sydney Uni, Norths, Eastwood and Easts in the next month. 

“We didn’t execute our game plan against a quality side on Saturday,” Rebels coach Don Mackinnon said. 

“When we’re playing well, we finish off opportunities. When we’re not, we make mistakes at crucial times and Warringah took every opportunity we gave them.”

Northern Suburbs 46-15 Western Sydney

A number of returning stars helped Norths claim a dominant bonus point win over Western Sydney at Lidcombe Oval. 

Hugh Sinclair, Nick Duffy and Lawrance Hunting all started for the Shoreman while Nick Palmer and Andrew Tuala both scored five pointers after starting on the bench. 

Norths dominated from the opening whistle and scored seven tries, including doubles to Duffy and winger Nathan Russell. 

Two Blues coach Joel Rivers, who coached a number of those returning players in Norths’ colts program, said it was a disappointing result just seven days after claiming an upset win over Souths. 

“It feels as though it’s two steps forward, one step back. I know our boys are a better team than this scoreline suggests, but they need to show it week in, week out, not in one off games or in short bursts,” Rivers said. 

“We didn’t play our style of rugby, like we did against Souths. We didn’t use our size or our main attacking weapons and it cost us.”

Rivers admitted the group was flat all week after the win over Souths and needed to find more consistency. 

“We’ve got the talent and skill needed to perform consistently and win games. Now we need to combine those things with better decision making, mental preparation and off field extras.”

Randwick 37-15 Manly

Randwick reminded the rest of the competition that they’re not just making up the numbers in 2019 with an impressive 37-15 win over Manly at Coogee Oval. 

The Galloping Greens scored 24 unanswered points after trailing 15-13 to claim a bonus point win and took full advantage of two Marlins yellow cards in the second half. 

Randwick flyhalf Tom Halse impressed in his return to the top grade, scoring 14 points after starting to match on the bench. 

After starting the season with three losses, the Wicks have now beaten Easts, Norths and Manly in the past month and sit just one competition point outside of the top six heading into a bye in round eight. 

Manly are still yet to win consecutive games in 2019 and will need to improve ahead of Saturday’s clash at home against an in form Warringah side.