Welcome to the Shute Shield Week 2 Finals predictions.
Week 1 of the finals saw 3 nail biting games, with each game in the balance until the final minutes. As the lowest ranked losers, fourth seed and two-time defending premiers Sydney University and sixth seed Randwick have been eliminated.
Out of the four remaining clubs, Eastern Suburbs has the longest premiership drought, winning their last title way back in 1969. They have appeared in 5 grand finals since then, the most recent being a 34-11 loss to Sydney Uni in 2007. The Beasties’ opponents this week, Gordon, won their last premiership in 1998 when they defeated Northern Suburbs at the Sydney Football Stadium. The Highlanders have not made a grand final since then and haven’t played finals football in over 10 years. Conversely, Norths and Eastwood have both enjoyed recent success with the Shoremen breaking a 41-year drought when they won the title in 2016 and the Woodies winning 5 grand finals since they won their maiden title in 1999.
The weather is set to play a part this weekend, with inclement weather likely for both matches. The winners of this week’s games will play in the grand final at Leichardt Oval on Saturday 31st October.
This week’s 7 Two television game is Northern Suburbs v Eastwood on Sunday. It can also be viewed online through 7 Plus at https://7plus.com.au/shute-shield. Gordon and Easts are playing on Saturday and that match will be live streamed on Cluch TV at 1:30pm on Saturday.
Gordon v Eastern Suburbs at Pittwater Rugby Park
Gordon went into week 1 with a guaranteed double chance while their opponents, Randwick, were facing elimination. The Wicks’ were clearly up for the challenge of playing the minor premiers and showed a remarkable turnaround in form, considering the heavy defeat sustained against Eastern Suburbs in the final round of the regular season. Gordon managed to overcome an early 6-0 deficit and a struggling scrum to sneak home by a point courtesy of a last-minute penalty goal by Rodney Iona.
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Eastern Suburbs will need to bounce back this week, following their surprise 9-point loss to Eastwood. An enthralling first half saw the scores level at 15 points apiece at the break before the Woods took control. The Beasties’ forwards were well matched by their opponents and Eastwood’s flyhalf Tane Edmed’s kicking ensured that field position was a constant problem for Easts.
The Highlanders were less than convincing against Randwick but will be better for the run, with many of their team being unfamiliar with the pressures of finals football before last week. The return of Mahe Vailanu at hooker should strengthen their scrum, which was a real problem area last week. Easts have suffered a major blow, with inspirational number 8 Rob Leota ruled out for the remainder of the season with a broken ankle. Last week’s loss broke Easts’ 8 game winning streak but they will take heart from the fact that the Highlanders were less than perfect last week too. Gordon has been the best side all season and there has been an air of excitement and expectation around Chatswood all year. If the Highlanders can remain composed and adjust their game plan to suit the conditions, then they should win.
Prediction: Gordon by 7
Northern Suburbs v Eastwood at Pittwater Rugby Park
Northern Suburbs managed to put 2 consecutive losses and the memory of a horror 2019 finals exit behind them to overcome Sydney University by 2 points in the opening match of this year’s finals series. University led 22-10 midway through the second half before a stirring comeback saw the Shoremen score 14 unanswered points, including the match winning try by Waratahs’ backrower Hugh Sinclair.
Eastwood scored the upset of the weekend with their 29-20 win over Eastern Suburbs, who went into the match having won their previous 8 games. The Woodies were led superbly by their flyhalf and Randwick Colts graduate, Tane Edmed. The Eastwood forwards muscled up against their more fancied opponents and laid the platform for Edmed, who took full advantage.
Norths showed last week that the key to their success lies predominately in their backline. Likewise, Eastwood has plenty of potency out wide, with Mark Nawaqanitawase scoring a bag of tries since returning from Super Rugby. Both sides also have quality halves pairings who will play huge roles in this match. Last time these 2 teams met was in round 7 when Norths won 41-38. If the conditions allow, then this could be a similarly high scoring encounter. I think that Norths will scrape home in another thriller.
Prediction: Northern Suburbs by 3
Week 1 Finals Results
|Northern Suburbs v Sydney University||Sydney University by 8||Northern Suburbs 24-22|
|Gordon v Randwick||Gordon by 15||Gordon 15-14|
|Eastern Suburbs v Eastwood||Eastern Suburbs by 7||Eastwood 29-20|
57 out of 70 or 81%, A very respectable season.