The 7 Two television game is Gordon v Warringah. It can also be viewed online through 7 Plus at https://7plus.com.au/shute-shield. Replays of every game are also available through Clutch TV’s Facebook page.
Eastern Suburbs v Eastwood at Woollahra Oval
Eastern Suburbs’ premiership credentials took another hit last week with a 3-point loss to Warringah. The Beasties haven’t beaten the Rats at Narrabeen in 10 years and despite fighting back from a 15-point deficit early in the match, Easts trudged back over the Bridge with only a solitary bonus point. Openside flanker Charlie Smith and fullback Daniel Donato impressed for the Beasties. Eastwood’s forwards dominated the West Harbour pack in their clash at TG Milner, scoring 4 tries from rolling mauls, including a hattrick to hooker Ed Craig.
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This has the potential to be a very tight game. Eastwood have shown plenty of improvement after their disappointing loss to Southern Districts in Round 1. Easts have showed glimpses of form but have struggled to put together 80 minutes, especially against high quality opponents The Beasties will be desperate to get their second win of the season and love playing on the artificial turf at Woollahra, but I think the Woodies will sneak home.
Prediction: Eastwood by 4
Gordon v Warringah at Chatswood Oval
After impressive wins over Easts and the Western Sydney Two Blues, Gordon is being touted by many as one of the favourites to take out this year’s Shute Shield. Fresh off their bye last week, the Highlanders will be keen to maintain their form. In a special touch, the Highlanders will honour the recent passing of two Gordon legends, Arthur Summons and John Fordham, before this week’s game. Arthur Summons was a diminutive and skilful flyhalf who helped the Highlanders to 2 premierships in the 1950s. Summons also played 10 tests for the Wallabies before signing for the Western Suburbs Magpies of the NSW Rugby League, where he was eventually immortalised in the famous photograph with Norm Provan following the 1963 Grand Final against St George. Their embrace became the basis of the then NSWRL (now NRL) premiership trophy. John Fordham managed numerous Gordon (and representative) teams during a highly successful period in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was known for his outstanding organisational skills, as well as his ability to inspire those around him. Fordham also had a wicked sense of humour. He went on to forge a brilliant career as a manager of leading sportspeople and media personalities. Both men will be sorely missed.
Gordon’s Round 4 opponents, Warringah, finally managed to break through for their first win of the season against Eastern Suburbs at Rat Park. The Rats were up 15-0 early in the first half, before an Easts fightback led to a seesawing second half. Replacement Harley Attwater eventually kicked the Rats to a 3-point victory late in the game.
Warringah’s tough opening draw doesn’t get any easier this week, taking on an in-form Gordon at Chatswood. The Rats will lift against former coach Darren Coleman, but I expect the Highlanders to continue on their winning way.
Prediction: Gordon by 12
Manly v Hunter Wildfires at Manly Oval
A bruised and battered Manly will host the Hunter Wildfires at Manly Oval this Saturday. The Marlins have had consecutive losses against Sydney University and Northern Suburbs. They face a growing injury toll, with James Ohmsen and Ben Crerar both leaving the field against the Shoremen last week. The Wildfires were well beaten by Sydney University in Round 3, but showed enough in the second half to demonstrate that they can’t be taken lightly.
Manly need to win this week to stay in touch with the top 6 and I expect them to be too good for the Wildfires.
Prediction: Manly by 22
Southern Districts v Western Sydney Two Blues at Forshaw Rugby Park
Southern Districts may have scored 4 tries to 1 in their Round 3 match against Penrith but they certainly didn’t have things all their own way. The Rebels will be looking for a more complete performance this week when they host the Western Sydney Two Blues at Forshaw. The Two Blues started well last week against Randwick, keeping the Wicks scoreless until just after the halftime break. Unfortunately for the Two Blues, Randwick scored 6 unanswered tries in the second half. The Two Blues have now been kept scoreless in their last 2 outings, which must be a worry for coach Joel Rivers. The challenge for the Two Blues this week will be to put in an 80-minute performance. If they don’t, then the Rebels are likely to post a big score.
I’m predicting the Rebels to be too good for the improving but still inconsistent Two Blues.
Prediction: Southern Districts by 28
Sydney University v Penrith at Sydney University Football Ground
Sydney University currently sit in equal first place on the ladder, following their 49-point drubbing of the Hunter Wildfires last week. The Students had the game sewn up by halftime, scoring 7 tries in the first half. Their Round 4 opponents, Penrith, hosted their first match in close to 3 years last week when Southern Districts visited Nepean Rugby Park. The Emus’ coaching staff were pleased with their team’s performance, despite going down 29-14. Significant improvement was evident in most facets, especially the set piece.
Despite the progress that is being made by the Emus, they face a monumental challenge this week against the Students. It’s hard to see anything apart from a win to University.
Prediction: Sydney University by 45
West Harbour v Randwick at Lidcombe Oval
West Harbour was a team that many predicted would challenge for a finals position in 2020 but, after starting their season with 3 consecutive losses, the Pirates face an uphill battle to feature in the postseason. Last week’s loss to Eastwood was highlighted by the Pirates’ inability to counter the Woodies’ rolling maul. This week they face an undefeated Randwick team that is playing with plenty of confidence. The Wicks scored 42 unanswered points in the second half of their Round 3 clash with the Two Blues, a brilliant try by Aussie 7s representative Maurice Longbottom being an obvious highlight.
Randwick will be focused on starting this game well while Wests will need to ensure that they contain Randwick’s dangerous backs. I’m tipping Randwick to be too strong out wide.
Prediction: Randwick by 18
Bye: Northern Suburbs
Round 3 Results
|Warringah v Eastern Suburbs||Warringah by 5||Warringah 31-28|
|Eastwood v West Harbour||Eastwood by 18||Eastwood 42-10|
|Manly v Northern Suburbs||Manly by 3||Northern Suburbs 28-19|
|Western Sydney v Randwick||Randwick by 35||Randwick 42-0|
|Penrith v Southern Districts||Southern Districts by 35||Southern Districts 29-14|
|Hunter Wildfires v Sydney University||Sydney University by 34||Sydney University 59-10|
|Gordon – Bye|
15 out of 18 just the 1 getting away each round so far for Hugh’s predictions.
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