Welcome to the Shute Shield Round 9 predictions.
This round contains a number of mouth-watering match ups but this week has been rightly dominated by the Battle of the Beaches – Warringah v Manly. There are several local derbies in the Shute Shield but none quite match the passion and interest of this one. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first clash between the two famous Northern Beaches clubs. The occasion will be marked by a gala lunch at Terrey Hills on Friday and the two clubs will name their best ever derby sides. On Saturday, both teams will run out wearing replica jerseys from that first clash in 1971. With this week’s clash also marking the 100th game between the 2 clubs, the current scoreboard sees Manly ahead 49-44. To add to what will already be an emotional day, Warringah will also honour their late and much-loved lower grader Lachlan Ward, who tragically lost his life playing for the Rats in 2017. As always, form and ladder positions will mean little. The hill on the eastern sideline of Rat Park will be packed and the can bar will be doing a roaring trade. The Battle of the Beaches 2021 is sure to be a memorable one.
All games are available live and streaming on Stan Sport.
Please note that there are no games scheduled for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend next week. Editor: this weekend is Queen’s Birthday weekend in NZ but it’s next weekend in Aus. She gets multiple birthdays…..
Gordon v Eastwood at Chatswood Oval
Gordon retained third place with their dramatic 4-point win over Warringah last week. Diminutive speedster Mike Pavlakis was instrumental in the Highlanders’ victory, scoring 2 tries, but it was Brandon Fa’avae Eli who broke the Rats’ hearts with the winner in the 75th minute. Eastwood went on a try-scoring feast at TG Milner, with in-form scrumhalf Matt Gonzalez scoring a triple and winger Sam Dolores scoring a double.
With Gordon skipper Jordie Goddard absent this week, the Highlanders’ pack will need to be at its best to secure enough quality ball for Reece Macdonald to control the play. The battle of the number 9s should be a beauty, with Jacob Abel and the aforementioned Matt Gonzalez both quality players. The home ground advantage and the fact that the Highlanders will be celebrating their annual Back to Gordon day has me tipping the home side in a close one.
Prediction: Gordon by 5
Randwick v Sydney University at Coogee Oval
Randwick leapfrogged Southern Districts into 7th spot on the ladder after they edged out the Rebels 29-25 in blustery conditions at Coogee Oval last week. The Wicks’ relied heavily on their rolling maul and were well led by Mitch Short at 9. Sydney University relinquished top spot on the ladder to Northern Suburbs after their bye last week.
Randwick and Sydney University have long been bitter on-field foes and there will be plenty of feeling in this Saturday’s game. The Wicks have won two on the trot but look to have their work cut out against the Students who will be fresh after their week off last week.
Prediction: Sydney University by 24
Warringah v Manly at Pittwater Rugby Park
Warringah were disappointed not to come away from Chatswood Oval with a win last week against Gordon, especially after leading 20-10 midway through the second half. However, the Rats weren’t able to put the plucky Highlanders away and a late try saw Gordon edge ahead 24-20. Warringah were granted a late chance after a failed intercept from Gordon was deemed to be a deliberate knockdown but the Rats were penalised from the ensuing lineout and fulltime was blown. Manly were well beaten by Northern Suburbs 36-18. The Marlins were down 22-3 after 25 minutes and never got within 10 points of the Shoremen, despite backrower Hunter Ward scoring a double. Some positives for Manly were their dominant scrum and the return to first grade by injury prone flyhalf Sam Lane, who played 20 minutes off the bench.
As stated in the introduction to this week’s predictions, form often means little when it comes to derby matches. In fact, Manly proved that last year when they scored a surprise 39-19 win in a dominant display at the Village Green. On paper though, it’s hard to see the Rats getting beaten in this one. I think they will dominate the forward clashes and their outside backs will shine.
Prediction: Warringah by 16
Southern Districts v Penrith at Forshaw Rugby Park
Southern Districts led Randwick for much of their match last week, only to go down by 4 points after a late try by the Wicks’ skipper and scrumhalf, Mitch Short. Each time Randwick scored, the Rebels consistently responded with a try of their own to keep the noses in front but Souths found Randwick’s driving maul very challenging to stop. Myles Thoroughgood and Christian Kagiassis were again good for the Rebels. Penrith competed hard against Eastern Suburbs and again showcased their ability to score tries against quality opposition. Lock Callum Adams and captain Mathew Faoagali both had strong games for the Emus.
The Rebels have started their last 2 games strongly only to let their opposition back into the game in the second half. If they are able to control the game early and score plenty of points in the first half, then they should get the win.
Prediction: Southern Districts by 28
Hunter Wildfires v Western Sydney Two Blues at Newcastle Sports Ground No. 2
The Wildfires scored 33 points against Eastwood but still went down after conceding 66 points, including a hattrick to scrumhalf Matt Gonzalez. The Two Blues hosted their traditional rivals West Harbour at picturesque Camden. The Two Blues again scored some entertaining tries, including one to Moses Tavola after an audacious cross field kick from scrumhalf Tim Babb, but in the end the Pirates were too good, winning 46-22.
The Two Blues are still chasing that elusive first win of 2021 and will be targeting this game for their breakthrough. The Wildfires will also see this game as a must win, especially in front of their home fans. The clash of the two forward packs as well as the battle between Leon Fukofuka and Tim Babb at number 9 will be a highlight of the game. I’m taking the Wildfires at home.
Prediction: Hunter Wildfires by 17
Eastern Suburbs v Northern Suburbs at Woollahra Oval
Eastern Suburbs didn’t have things all their own way against Penrith but did enough to come away with a 35-17 victory. Backrower Archie Gavin, son of former Wallaby number 8 Tim, scored 3 tries while the halves pairing of Teddy Wilson and former Souths flyhalf Rohan Saifoloi continues to impress. Northern Suburbs were too good for Manly last week, winning 36-18 and claiming top spot on the ladder thanks to Sydney University’s bye. The scrum continues to be a concern for the Shoremen but the backline continues to shine under the direction of scrumhalf Nick Duffy and stand in flyhalf Max Burey.
I expect Easts to challenge the Shoremen, especially at the set piece, but with star winger James Turner back for Norths, their backline should dominate on the artificial turf at Woollahra.
Prediction: Northern Suburbs by 15
Bye: West Harbour
Round 8 Results
|Gordon v Warringah||Gordon by 10||Gordon 24-20|
|Penrith v Eastern Suburbs||Eastern Suburbs by 40||Eastern Suburbs 35-17|
|Randwick v Southern Districts||Southern Districts by 7||Randwick 29-25|
|Manly v Northern Suburbs||Northern Suburbs by 18||Northern Suburbs 36-18|
|Eastwood v Hunter Wildfires||Eastwood by 20||Eastwood 66-33|
|WS Two Blues v West Harbour||West Harbour by 15||West Harbour 46-22|
|Sydney University – Bye|
So far Hugh is 40 From 48 or 83%, just the 1 wrong by Hugh who’s having a great picking season