Welcome to the Shute Shield Week Grand Final prediction.
The Sydney club rugby season culminates this Saturday with 3 Grand Finals (1st Grade, 2nd Grade and 1st Grade Colts) being played at Leichardt Oval.
Grand Finals in the remaining competitions were played last weekend as detailed below.
|3rd Grade||Gordon||Sydney University|
|3rd Colts||Sydney University||Gordon|
The weather is again set to play a part this weekend, with inclement weather affecting Sydney and surrounding areas for much of the week.
The Shute Shield Grand Final will be televised live on 7 Two at 3:00 pm. It can also be viewed online through 7 Plus at https://7plus.com.au/shute-shield and will be broadcast live through Cluch Sport’s radio feed.
Semi Finals Wrap Up
Gordon earned their place in this week’s Grand Final with a hard fought 28-10 win over Eastern Suburbs last Saturday. A tight first half saw the scores locked at 3 apiece after the first 40 minutes. The Beasties then jumped out to a 10-3 lead early in the second half when Richie Woolf scored a converted try after some strong lead up work by Wallaby Jack Maddocks. Easts then had a golden opportunity to go further ahead after a break by Sam Shires but the movement broke down. The Highlanders then took control and scored four unanswered tries, securing the win and their first grand final berth in 22 years. Scrumhalf Harrison Goddard, Flyhalf Rodney Iona and Wallaby backrower Jack Dempsey starred for Gordon.
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Eastwood had to overcome terrible weather conditions and a tenacious Northern Suburbs side in their 12-9 overtime win. The scores were locked at 3-all at halftime and then 9-all at fulltime, with Tane Edmed’s goalkicking eventually proving the difference in a try-less encounter. Edmed and scrumhalf Matt Gonzalez were again superb for the Woodies, and their battle with the Highlanders’ halves this week will be a beauty. Norths will be bitterly disappointed to again exit the finals with two successive losses after suffering the same fate in 2019, but the Shoremen were gallant in defeat and have enjoyed a superb season.
1st Grade – Gordon v Eastwood at Leichardt Oval
Much has been made of the Highlanders’ resurgence this season and rightly so. Gordon’s last first grade premiership triumph was in 1998 and they haven’t qualified for the finals in over 10 years. It was only two seasons ago that the Highlanders finished at the bottom of the table and suffered the indignity of losing 97-14 against their local rivals, Northern Suburbs. A rejuvenated colts program and the arrival of first grade coach Darren Coleman at the beginning of 2019, fresh off an emotional premiership win with Warringah, have seen the Highlanders return to their powerhouse days of the 1990s.
Gordon led the competition through all 13 rounds, losing only one game. They are superbly coached by Darren Coleman and Goddard and Iona have been the form halves pairing all year. Hooker Mahe Vailanu, skipper Jordie Goddard and Jack Dempsey provide plenty of strength up front. The scrum has been the Highlanders’ achilles heel but their work at the breakdown and rock-solid defence, has been enough to overcome any weakness at the set piece.
Eastwood, along with Sydney University, has been one of the most successful Shute Shield clubs of the professional era, winning 6 premierships since their maiden title in 1999. However, finals success has eluded the Woodies in more recent years with their last grand final appearances coming in their back to back triumphs in 2014 and 2015. Second year coach and former player Ben Batger had the unenviable task of putting together an almost brand new first grade in 2020, following the departure of 12 players from the team that lost last year’s semi-final to Warringah.
Eastwood has, according to many, slid under the radar for much of the season with most pundits talking up the likes of Gordon, Norths and Randwick. They had a less than convincing start to the season, losing their opening game against Southern Districts before going on to win 8 of their 12 games, with further losses to Sydney University, Northern Suburbs and Gordon. Tane Edmed, who joined the club at the beginning of the year from Randwick, has been a revelation at flyhalf. Skipper and number 8 Pat Sio and winger Mark Nawaqanitawase are also key players.
I’m expecting a tight first half, especially considering the occasion and the likely wet conditions. However, Gordon has been the best team all season and I think that they will finish strongly.
Prediction: Gordon by 10
2nd Grade – Sydney University vs Eastern Suburbs
Prediction: Sydney University by 9
1st Grade Colts – Sydney University v Eastern Suburbs
Prediction: Sydney University by 14
Week 2 Finals Results
|Gordon v Eastern Suburbs||Gordon by 7||Gordon 28-10|
|Northern Suburbs v Eastwood||Northern Suburbs by 3||Eastwood 12-9|
58 out of 72 or 81%, A very respectable season.