The 7 Two television game is Sydney University v Southern Districts. 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.
In news this week, it is being reported that the Shute Shield Grand Final that is scheduled to take place on Saturday 31st October, will more than likely be played under lights at Brookvale Oval. This will be the fourth different venue used in six years, after the Sydney Rugby Union made the decision to stage the 2019 decider at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta after three highly successful grand finals at the historic North Sydney Oval. The 2015 grand final was played at Concord Oval. Brookvale Oval is the home of the Manly-Warringah NRL franchise and seats around 23,000 fans. Several Super Rugby games have also been played at the venue in recent years. The move to Brookvale is likely to be seen as a positive one by many fans (especially those north of the harbour) but the decision to stage the game at night may raise a few eyebrows.
Manly v Gordon at Manly Oval
Manly’s biggest hurdle this season has been an ever-increasing injury toll. They will go into this week’s game with at least 7 players currently sidelined due to injury. The Marlins lost flyhalf BJ Hartmann, who was returning from injury, in the opening minutes of last week’s game with a torn calf muscle. Manly coach Matt McGoldrick was disappointed with the Marlins’ error riddled performance last week when, in the surprise result of round 4, they drew with the Hunter Wildfires. Hartman has again been named in the number 10 jersey this week, despite the fact that he left the field injured against the Wildfires. The Marlins have also picked up former Manly Sea Eagle SG Ball player Harley Attwater from Warringah in a mid-season transfer. It is unknown what role Attwater is likely to play this week as he has not been named in their starting 15.
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Gordon made arguably the biggest statement of 2020 when they demolished last year’s grand finalists, Warringah 52-7. The Highlanders’ forwards laid a solid platform through their outstanding scrum, and halves Harrison Goddard and Rodney Iona orchestrated a famous victory for the Stags. Gordon’s defence was also rock solid, with the Rats crossing for a solitary try in the closing moments. Despite not having played a fellow top 6 side this season, Gordon’s scintillating form has been the talk of the town.
With only 1 win from their first 4 games, the Marlins will be desperate for a win to stay in touch with the top 6. Gordon hasn’t beaten Manly since 2010 and hasn’t won at Manly in 12 years. However, the Highlanders have proved that they are genuine premiership contenders this year and should be too good for the injury depleted Marlins.
Prediction: Gordon by 18
Northern Suburbs v Hunter Wildfires at Bon Andrews Oval
Northern Suburbs had the bye last week, following their impressive 28-19 win over Manly in what was the Shoremen’s biggest test to date. Norths have had what most would consider a reasonably easy draw to start the season and they will be keen to amass as many premiership points as possible before they face tougher opposition in the coming weeks.
The Hunter Wildfires came of age in round 4 with an inspiring 29 all draw against the Marlins at Manly Oval. The Wildfires proved that they will continue to improve and that they are more than capable of being competitive at this level. Former Northern Suburbs colt Steve Lamont and flyhalf Michael Maloney were the Wildfires’ best.
This will be an intriguing game. With Norths fresh after their week off and the Wildfires on the road for the second week in a row, I’m tipping a win by the Shoremen.
Prediction: Northern Suburbs by 15
Western Sydney Two Blues v Eastwood at Lidcombe Oval
A much-improved performance from the Western Sydney Two Blues last week against Southern Districts saw them score their first points since their round 1 loss to Manly. The Two Blues forwards led the charge and they were ahead by 10 points at halftime before Rebels took advantage of the Two Blues’ fatigue to score 27 points in the second half, winning 37-25.
Eastwood continues to build, beating Eastern Suburbs by 3 points in their round 4 match at Woollahra Oval. The Woodies spent 20 minutes playing with only 14 men, after 2 yellow cards were issued at various stages. Easts are always more difficult at home and Eastwood coach Ben Batger was very happy to come away with the win.
Despite the Two Blues’ improvement last week, it is hard to see them challenging Eastwood for the full 80 minutes.
Prediction: Eastwood by 28
Randwick v Penrith at Coogee Oval
Randwick continued to press their premiership credentials, keeping West Harbour scoreless in their win at Drummoyne Oval. There has been plenty of talk about Randwick’s 7s connection and their attacking prowess but it was the Wick’s defence that was most impressive.
Penrith were competitive against Sydney University but struggled at the set piece and will need to improve if they are to challenge Randwick this week. The Emus will also look to improve their decision making and to tighten up their defence.
Historically, playing Randwick at Coogee has been one of the toughest assignments for any visiting team in the Shute Shield an
Sydney University v Southern Districts at Sydney University Football Ground
Sydney University became the first club to lose players en masse to Coronavirus when 12 top grade players were forced into self-isolation following a visit to a Newcastle venue following their game against the Wildfires in round 3. The Students were able to dispose of the Emus reasonably comfortably, despite the disrupted preparation and forced selection changes. This week the Students welcome back former Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan, who has returned from San Diego in MLR due to Covid-19.
Southern Districts had a major scare when they had to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit against the Western Sydney Two Blues last week. The Rebels were battered up front by the rampaging Two Blues’ forwards in the first half but their superior fitness was a key factor in the second 40.
Both teams are unbeaten heading into this game but I’m predicting that Uni will be the team to break the Rebels’ winning streak.
Prediction: Sydney University by 21
Warringah v West Harbour at Pittwater Rugby Park
Warringah fell to a disappointing 9th on the ladder after being humbled by nearly 50 points by Gordon at Chatswood last Saturday. Despite qualifying for the past 3 grand finals and still boasting a line-up that would be the envy of most other clubs, the Rats simply had no answers against the dominant Highlanders’ outfit. The Rats will be desperate to string some wins together as the play several less fancied sides over the next few weeks.
West Harbour had their annual Back to Wests day spoiled by Randwick as the visiting team inflicted a 22-0 defeat on the hapless Pirates at Drummoyne Oval. In a huge coup for the Pirates, local junior and former Super Rugby flyhalf Jack Debreczeni has returned to Concord and came off the bench to play the last 30 minutes against Randwick. Debreczeni hasn’t been named in the starting 15 this week but is sure to feature at some stage.
Warringah is a better team than their current position on the table suggests and the combination of playing at Rat Park and the desire for redemption after last week should be enough to see them home against the Pirates.
Prediction: Warringah by 17
Bye: Eastern Suburbs
Round 4 Results
|Eastern Suburbs v Eastwood||Eastwood by 4||Eastwood 20-17|
|Gordon v Warringah||Gordon by 12||Gordon 52-7|
|Manly v Hunter Wildfires||Manly by 22||29-29 Draw|
|Southern Districts v Western Sydney Two Blues||Southern Districts by 28||Southern Districts 37-25|
|Sydney University v Penrith||Sydney University by 45||Sydney University 41-3|
|West Harbour v Randwick||Randwick by 18||Randwick 22-0|
|Northern Suburbs – Bye|
20 out of 24 just the 1 getting away each round and this time it was a DRAW!!!
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