Shute Shield: Students catapulted to minor premiership in stunning final-round reshuffle

Photo: AJF Photography

Continuing their last-ditch surge, the in-form Eastern Suburbs cemented their spot in the 2019 Shute Shield finals at Woollahra Oval on Saturday afternoon, stunning minor premiership hopefuls Eastwood in a second-half romp.

They did so in style, flipping a 19-17 half-time deficit and running in 29 unanswered points in the second half to eventually claim a season-saving, 48-26 victory, their third win in a row.

Three of the Beasties’ seven tries came through barnstorming centre Lalakai Foketi and Henry Paterson grabbed a brace as well, the pair combining to define Eastwood prop Jed Gillespie’s three-try effort.

The win didn’t just keep Easts’ title hope alive either, it helped contribute to a stunning, final-round ladder reshuffle that ended with Sydney University celebrating a minor premiership win.

With Declan Moore scoring a hat-trick and Nick Phipps and Thomas Horton grabbing doubles Uni dispatched West Harbour with ease, winning 53-6 in the Pirates’ farewell to Concord Oval.

That win, Sydney Uni’s fifth on the trot, combined with Easts’ victory and Southern Districts’ shocking, final-round win over title contenders Warringah helped catapult the students to the top of the pecking order.

The Rebels were well out of finals contention and had suffered three consecutive defeats, so were desperate to finish the 2019 season on a positive note.

It’s impossible to deny they did just that too, taking the Rats’ scalp by way of a 36-21 victory at Forshaw Park.

Like so many of the other round 18 wins Souths’ was inspired by a three-try effort, this one coming from flanker Nathan Lawson.

Sam Latunipulu scored for Souths as well, as did Christian Kagiassis, the latter having a decent day with the boot in nailing four conversion attempts.

Needless to say Souths’ win sparked raucous celebrations from the Forshaw faithful, and well as Uni’s supporters once word filtered through they’d done enough to claim the first piece of silverware.

Last weekend’s last-ditch loss to Eastern Suburbs proved costly in the end for Gordon, although the resurgent Stags did everything they could on Saturday.

Knowing they needed a victory coupled with a Beasties loss to claim sixth spot the Highlanders made reasonably light work of Western Sydney.

Securing a bonus point they went on to win 43-22, with Mahe Vailanu and Tom Silk scoring doubles, but it was to no avail thanks to Easts.

Elsewhere, Randwick stifled Northern Suburbs’ momentum in a big way. 

The eighth-finishing Galloping Greens scored a thrilling, 32-30 win over the Shoremen, Will Harrison’s boot proving the difference as he slotted two penalty goals in the two-point victory.

The last-round reshuffle leaves Sydney University hosting sixth-finishers Manly, Warringah taking on Northern Suburbs and Eastwood facing Eastern Suburbs in the opening week of the finals.

Perhaps tellingly, Eastwood’s rematch with the Beasties is at TG Millner.

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