Wins for the top four placed sides have this weekend assured that Eastwood, Sydney University, Southern Districts and Manly will qualify on top of the table when the finals series gets underway in just two weeks’ time.
Results in the penultimate round of pool matches today all went with form, with the higher-placed team taking the win in all six Round 17 encounters.
Manly’s 23-15 away win over Norths sees them guarantee fourth spot, whilst Sydney University’s run away 95-7 defeat of Gordon cements their second place. Leaders Eastwood were made to work hard for a 39-22 win over Eastern Suburbs, whilst third-placed Southern Districts retained their position with a 43-26 defeat of Randwick. In the two remaining matches, the Warringah Rats kept their finals hopes alive, beating Parramatta 36 to 24, whilst Penrith kept a close contest with West Harbour, going down 30 to 12.
Words by Brittany Mitchell, photos by www.seiserphotography.com.au
Northern Suburbs v Manly
The Manly Marlins have maintained their top four position after coming away with a narrow win over Norths. After making a strong start, the Marlins struggled to hold out the Shoremen, who continued to fight until the bell.
Said Manly captain Ed Gower on Norths’ comeback, “It’s going to be really important for us the next few weeks that we keep that momentum and stick to our structure even when teams are trying to spoil that. I think Norths really came at us a bit more. Obviously next week’s a big week for us and we need to keep that momentum into the finals.”
Only minutes after kick off, Manly was quick to put points on the board, taking advantage of a couple of early penalties to go six points clear after 10 minutes.
After a great midfield break, Marlins’ flanker Jordy Reid regathered his own kick to set up his flyhalf Marshal Milroy for for Manly’s first try. The Marlins continued to dominate possession but it was their mistake that led to Norths’ first three points. With only minutes left in the half, the Marlins finally capitalised on a series of breaks when they crossed for a second converted try to take the half-time score to 18-3.
After a big team chat at half time, the Shoremen hit back early, crossing the line for a quick try when wing Elih Baillie went over. But Manly were quick to hit back, making a break down the wing and sending Jacob Woodhouse over for his second to take the score 23-10 with 30 minutes remaining.
With both sides efforts being undone by mistakes, it fell to Corey Brown to put a stop to that, crossing for Norths over after an overlap saw him find the gap and dive over to close the gap to 23-15 after 60 minutes. Although both sides continued to fight for points, neither side was able to convert their possession into points and a last-ditch Marlins attempt to secure a four-try bonus point was thwarted by a desperate and committed Norths’ defence.
Said Norths flanker AJ Gilbert after the game, “We spoke at half time and even during the first half, we were really just coasting. There wasn’t really that much chat, not much intensity and you can’t have that in the Shute Shield, particularly against a team like Manly.
“They won that in the first half. We fixed a few things in the second but really we shouldn’t have given them that head start.”
Manly 23 (Marshall Milroy, Jacob Woodhouse 2 tries; Adam D’Arcy con, 2 pens) d Northern Suburbs 15 (Elih Baillie, Corey Brown tries; Scott Daruda con, pen) at North Sydney Oval. Referee Matt O’Brien
Eastern Suburbs v Eastwood
The Woodies have continued their winning streak, downing Easts in a hard-fought TV match at Woollahra Oval. In a close contest, the Beasties were hoping for a second win over top-of-the-table Eastwood, but it was Woodies who got off the board first with a try from centre Cam Mitchell. The boot of flyhalf Henry Hudson kept the home side in the chase until a try from flanker Hugh Roach gave Eastwood an eight-point cushion going into the final quarter. A try from galloping lock Richard Stanford put Easts back in the game with 10 minutes to play, before a five-pointer from captain Hugh Perrett opened the gap again. A final effort from Woodies’ replacement Blake Sutton secured the win and with it, the four-try bonus point.
Eastwood 39 (Hugh Perrett, Cam Mitchell, Hugh Roach, Blake Sutton tries; Ben Batger 2 cons, 4 pens, Tom Hill pen) d Eastern Suburbs 22 (Richard Stanford try; Henry Hudson con, 5 pens) at Woollahra Oval. Referee James Leckie.
Sydney University v Gordon
Sydney University made it 13 wins on the trot today, trouncing Gordon at Uni Oval 1. The Students were flying high, scoring more than a point a minute in a display of top class rugby. The Highlanders fought hard throughout the match but were no match for the Students, who ran away 95 to 7 after being up 49-0 at half time.
Sydney University 95 (Tom English 4, Lachlan Mitchell 4, Greg Jeloudev 2, Tom Kingston 2, Trent Dyer, Hugo Dessons, Peter Betham tries; Byron Hodge 4 cons, Greg Jeloudev 3 cons, Nick Phipps 3 cons) d Gordon 7 (Matt McDougall try; Henry Carmichael con) at University Oval 1. Referee William Houston.
Warringah v Parramatta
The Warringah Rats have forced their way into finals contention after downing Parramatta at home. The Rats looked the goods throughout the match, crossing the line first early in the match, before going on to secure a crucial four-try bonus that sees them rise one place to eighth overall, one point clear of Northern Suburbs.
Warringah 36 (Joshua Holmes 2, David Feltscheer, Michael Dalton, David Harvey tries; David Harvey 4 cons, pen) d Parramatta 24 (M Tia 2, Adam Coleman, Damien Fakafanua tries; Sam Yakopo con, Tom Woods con) at Pittwater Rugby Park. Referee Ian Smith
Southern Districts v Randwick
Southern Districts have fought hard to redeem themselves after last week’s loss, taking down the Galloping Greens in a 43-26 home win. Overcoming a slot start, the Rebels took the lead and fought hard in defence to maintain their advantage. The win sees them maintain third spot overall and leaves Randwick in seventh.
Southern Districts 43 (Ben Connolly 2, Luke Smart, Paul Asquith, Chris O’Reilly tries; Rohan Saifoloi 3 cons, 4 pens) d Randwick 26 (Marc Koteczky, Seilala Lam, Timothy Wright 2 tries; Harrison Boileau 2 cons, Marc Koteczky con) at Forshaw Rugby Park. Referee Angus Gardner.
Penrith v West Harbour
Once again, Penrith have turned in a determined performance, working hard to hold West Harbour to a 30 points to 12 victory. Although the Pirates never looked like losing, the Emus dogged it out, crossing the line twice for twelve well-deserved points over their fifth-placed opponents.
West Harbour 30 (Vaka Manu, Shaun Treweek, Winston Wilson, Macquire Tatola tries; Shaun Treweek con, 2 pens, Angus Le Lievre con) d Penrith 12 (Leo Burgess, James Umu tries; Paula Katoa con) at Nepean Rugby Park. Referee Andrew Lees
|Shute Shield ladder (after 17 rounds)