Shute Shield Round 9: Warringah, Manly & Norths strike late and steal competition points
Warringah, Manly and Norths all came from behind to claim important wins and secure their spot in the top six in another tight weekend of Shute Shield rugby.
At the halfway point of the regular season, four competition points separates first and fourth while just three competition points seperate fifth from ninth as the battle for spots in the top six heats up.
Image: Connor Vest steals victory for Norths (AJF Photography)
Warringah 21-19 Eastwood
Warringah veteran Hamish Angus kicked a sideline conversion after the full time siren right in front of the TG Millner faithful to help his side claim their fifth straight win.
In a tight contest, Eastwood looked in control after Mick Snowden scored to give his side a 19-14 lead.
The Woodies turned down an opportunity to take a penalty goal to extend their advantage to eight points, then handed Warringah possession and territory on the back of some handling mistakes and ill discipline.
The Rats forwards then scored from a nicely executed driving maul before Angus sealed the win and hardly looked like he raised a sweat in doing so.
“It was a great game to watch, plenty of tough defence from both sides,” Rats coach Mark Gerrard told Rugby News.
“Nothing split the teams. We were lucky that they didn’t take the penalty with a couple of minutes to go. Then we got a couple of penalties and the rest is history.”
Woodies coach Ben Batger was filthy after his side dropped their third match of the season.
“Unfortunately it was the same old problem for us, we turned over far too much ball. It hasn’t cost us in previous weeks but this week it did,” the coach said.
“They took their opportunities and we didn’t. We had almost twice as much possession at they did but our lack of execution meant we couldn’t turn it into points.”
Eastwood remain on top of the Shute Shield ladder, while Warringah are now third and arguably the team to beat at this point of the season.
Manly 24-19 West Harbour
Manly also struck late, scoring in the 78th minute to break West Harbour hearts at Concord.
The Marlins led 17-7 but let West Harbour back into the match in the second half following a number of errors.
The Pirates took the invitation and scored the next two tries through fullback Noah Cooper and centre Cooper Henwood, but then struggled to close the match out.
Down to 14-men after a harsh yellow card, West Harbour refused to kick the ball out of their own quarter. Kotoni Ale pilfered soon after and the Marlins barged over from close range to claim an important away win.
“We could have made it easier for ourselves but we gave away the little ball we had in the second half and you’re always going to be in trouble when you give the opposition that much ball,” Manly coach Billy Melrose said.
“In saying that, we showed great composure to close out the game with a late try.”
West Harbour coach Mark Gudmunson was left speechless after losing another game his side probably should have won.
“That was the hardest loss to take. You get back into the game and then seem to be about to put the foot down, then we fall again in the last minute.
“A couple of silly game management decisions put us under some unnecessary pressure. Plus the yellow card didn’t help. It’s a tough one to take.”
Melrose added that he was thrilled with the efforts of some of the younger players in the squad who have stepped up to cover injuries.
“Five of my backs have a total of 15 caps between them,” he said.
“You’ve gotta love a bit of adversity. There’s nothing like finding out what lives beneath your breastbone.”
Randwick 50-12 Western Sydney
Randwick continued their resurgence with an impressive 50-12 win over Western Sydney.
The Two Blues scored early to take a 7-5 lead before the Galloping Greens took control and scored seven unanswered five pointers.
Lock Nathan Den Hoedt claimed a double while both starting wingers and centres scored for Randwick in an impressive display of running rugby.
After losing their first three matches, Randwick have now won four of their last five matches and are now within a win of the top six in seventh spot.
Gordon 42-22 Eastern Suburbs
Gordon bounced back from a heartbreaking derby loss to Norths to beat Easts 42-22 on a cool day in Orange.
The Stags got away quickly and led 17-0 following tries to Jacob Abel and Jordy Goddard – both proud indigenous players wearing an indigenous jersey for the first time in the club’s history.
Easts hit back through with tries to Orange locals Dan Donato and Jack Grant and trailed 20-15 before the Gordon backs took control and scored the next three tries to put the result beyond doubt.
“Rugby is a funny game sometimes,” Gordon coach Darren Coleman said.
“We had a good day and a lot of things stuck and played out how we planned. Easts probably had the opposite and had a bad day with their hands. In saying that, they’re too good and too well coached for that to happen too often.”
Easts coach Pauli Taumoepeau agreed that execution killed his side’s chances.
“It was a frustrating match and we’re really disappointed to have lost the way we did. Gordon did a lot of good things, but we also helped them along the way.”
Both club’s were full of praise for the Orange community, who welcomed the Shute Shield to town with open arms for the second time.
“Despite our on field performance, the whole weekend was great. It was pretty humbling to see the lengths they went to in accomodating us,” Taumoepeau added.
Following the Shute Shield clash, Orange Emus ran in seven tries, including a double to former Warringah enforcer Nick Hughes-Clapp, to beat cross town rivals Orange City 45-21.
Northern Suburbs 35-28 Southern Districts
Southern Districts blew a 21-point lead in a 35-28 loss to Norths to extend their winless run to five matches.
The Rebels scored the first three tries and looked to be in complete control at North Sydney Oval, before the visitors let Norths into the match.
Still trailing 28-21 late in the game, Norths earned a penalty try from a perfectly executed driving maul to level the scores.
A minute later, flanker Conor Vest regathered a high clearing kick on half way and offloaded to set up the match winning try for Josh Noonan against the run of play.
“It was probably still one of our best performances this year,” a stunned Rebels captain Dewet Roos told Rugby News.
“We played all the rugby in the first half and part of the second half. Our game plan was very well executed and we were pretty happy heading into halftime.
“Then a few decisions didn’t go our way and discipline once again got the better of us. We gave Norths a leg up and they used it to their full advantage.”
Roos said discipline continues to be a major issue for the Rebels in 2019, but he said the group was still confident they could turn things around.
“Bringing three Super Rugby players off the bench as fresh reserves while we were down to 14 men certainly helped them, but it was still our discipline that cost us.”
Despite dropping to ninth spot after five straight losses, Souths are still just one win outside of the top six at the halfway point of the regular season.
Norths are second with six wins from their first eight matches.