Preliminary Finals Preview


By Sydney Rugby Union

The 2011 Shute Shield Finals Series continues this weekend with the Preliminary Finals at TG Millner Field. Saturday’s clash sees minor premiers Eastwood face Randwick (5th) while defending champions Sydney University (2nd) and Manly (3rd) will do battle on Sunday.

Both matches will be telecast live on ABC 1 in NSW/ACT from 3:00pm.

Preliminary Finals – 17/18 September 2011
Saturday 17 September 2011
TG Millner Field
Kick-off: 3:10pm (Live on ABC 1 from 3:00pm)

After a season in which they dominated the competition, Eastwood has the opportunity to take up a thoroughly-deserved position in the Grand Final when they meet Randwick on home turf at TG Millner Field.
The Woods claimed their second consecutive minor premiership with a near-perfect 21-1 record and also finished the season in possession of the Sir Roden Cutler Shield.
Randwick have taken a far different path to the Preliminary Final, finishing in fifth place with a 12-10 record before eliminating Eastern Suburbs in a tight encounter last weekend.
This clash is a rematch of the 2010 Preliminary Final which started in the worst possible fashion for Eastwood when Locky McCaffrey left the field with a devastating leg injury. The occasion did not get much better for the minor premiers with Randwick progressing to a third consecutive Grand Final with a try five minutes before full-time sealing a two-point win.
However on that day Randwick were boosted by the presence of Kurtley Beale, Sekope Kepu, Rocky Elsom, Mark Chisholm, Nick Cummins and Patrick Phibbs, representative stars who helped turn the result the way of the Galloping Greens.
This Saturday it will be Eastwood who have the star power fielding nine Super Rugby players in their starting XV compared to Randwick’s two. And the area where that is likely to have the greatest impact is up front with Eastwood’s fantastic pack coming up against a Randwick eight which struggled last weekend against the Beasts and conceded a second half penalty try.
Eastwood’s back row of Hugh Perrett, Chris Alcock and McCaffrey is only rivalled by Sydney University as the best loose forward trio, forming a great combination which is backed up well by Gareth Palamo from the bench.
Consistency in selection has been one of the keys to Eastwood’s success this year, with the combination between Nic White and Pierre Hola particularly impressive. Playing behind their new halves, the remainder of the backline – Lachie Turner, Sione Piukala, Tim Bennetts, John Grant and Ben Batger – is the same which played in last year’s Preliminary Final.
Randwick will rely heavily on their defence to keep them in the match against a team which has averaged 42 points per game this season.
If they can do that, the talented Wicks backline will need to take full advantage of every opportunity. A lot of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Josh Valentine and Toby Browne to provide good ball to the three quarters, with in-form outside backs Ethan Ford and Shaun Foley showing their talent in recent weeks.
Eleven Eastwood players who took on Randwick in round 14 are back this weekend compared to just seven for their opponents who have also lost Atieli Pakalani to a shoulder injury.
Eastwood: 1. Kieran Longbottom, 2. Damien Fitzpatrick, 3. Barry Fa’amuasili; 4. Mitch Lees, 5. Ben Hand; 6. Hugh Perrett [c], 7. Chris Alcock, 8. Locky McCaffrey; 9. Nic White, 10. Pierre Hola; 11. Lachie Turner, 12. Sione Piukala, 13. Tim Bennetts, 14. John Grant; 15. Ben Batger.
Randwick: 1. Cruze Ah-Nau, 2. Atonio Halangahu, 3. Steven Noriega; 4. Ben Mowen, 5. Geoff Ingram; 6. Tim Maxwell, 7. Tim McGann [c], 8. Al McFarland; 9. Josh Valentine, 10. Toby Browne; 11. Tom Joseph, 12. Bevu Tuqiri, 13. Finau Makamaka, 14. Ethan Ford; 15. Shaun Foley.
Referee: Nathan Pearce
2011 Head-to-Head
Round 3 – Eastwood 23 d Randwick 11 at TG Millner Field
Round 14 – Eastwood 38 d Randwick 14 at Coogee Oval
Last Five Matches
Eastwood: Rd 22 defeated Northern Suburbs 52-10 (H); Rd 21 defeated Penrith 61-12 (A); Rd 20 defeated West Harbour 91-0 (H); Rd 19 defeated Eastern Suburbs 35-20 (A); Rd 18 defeated Gordon 61-5 (A).
Randwick: Elimination Semi-Final defeated Eastern Suburbs 28-26 (Coogee); Rd 22 lost to Manly 33-39 (A); Rd 21 defeated Gordon 56-42 (H); Rd 20 lost to Sydney University 17-65 (H); Rd 19 lost to Southern Districts 24-37 (A).
Lower Grades
1:15pm: Colin Caird Shield (2nd Grade): Eastwood (1st) v Randwick (6th)
11:50am: JR Henderson Shield (3rd Grade): Sydney University (1st) v West Harbour (5th)
10:25am: JR Henderson Cup (4th Grade): Eastern Suburbs (1st) v Randwick (4th)

Sunday 18 September 2011
TG Millner Field
Kick-off: 3:10pm (Live on ABC 1 from 3:00pm)

The Sydney University juggernaut rolled on through the second half of the season and Manly has the task of trying to stop it when second plays third on Sunday.
The Students are gunning for yet another premiership and are progressing strongly on the back of a nine-game winning streak which dates back to their round 13 loss to minor premiers Eastwood.
In that time Uni have taken down every other team in the top six and averaged more than 50 points per game.
The Students have brought through a number of new names in 2011 which will play a major role this weekend. Michael Hodge has surpassed all expectations to hold down his position all year, while Tom Kingston, Bernard Foley, Matt Schwager and Sam Talakai continue to impress.
That emerging depth combines with an all-star list of internationals such as Phil Waugh and Dean Mumm along with Super Rugby stars Dave Dennis, Pat McCutcheon, Tom Carter, Jeremy Tilse, Jono Jenkins and captain Tim Davidson.
While Uni have rivalled Eastwood as the form team of the last two months, their toughest encounter came against Manly in the penultimate round of the regular season. It is a match which should provide a strong form line into this encounter with eleven Sydney Uni and 13 Manly players present in their teams’ respective starting XVs on that day.
On that occasion Uni scored four tries to one for a seemingly comfortable 32-14 victory, however the margin should have been much closer. The Marlins gave up a golden tryscoring opportunity in the shadows of half-time which would have given them the lead at the break and changed the whole complexion of the second half.
Manly would also have been disappointed with their defensive effort, with the tryscorer crossing on three occasions without a hand laid on him, while another saw returning flyer Nathan Trist break through four tacklers on his way to the line.
If the Marlins can correct that part of their game, then this is a clash which will go down to the wire.
Manly do not have the headline acts which Sydney Uni possess, however they have some of the best youngsters of the competition. Ben Seymour has relished his move to fullback which has allowed Willie Ripia to run the show from the mid-field. Rookie BJ Hartmann has performed well on the wing and at fullback this year and has now answered the call in the centres.
The unheralded front row of Dane Maraki, Anthony Hegarty and Eddie Aholelei will not take a backward step, while Cadeyrn Neville and Kotoni Ale are two of the competition’s biggest improvers in 2011.
Sydney Uni come into the game fresh from a week off, while Manly took only the first 10 minutes off against Northern Suburbs in the Elimination Semi-Final. The Marlins started slowly but stuck to their game plan to run in five unanswered tries and record what ended up being a convincing win.
Sydney University: 1. Sam Talaki, 2. Sam Roberson, 3. Jeremy Tilse; 4. Dean Mumm, 5. Dave Dennis; 6. Tim Davidson [c], 7. Jono Jenkins, 8. Pat McCutcheon; 9. Matt Schwager, 10. Daniel Halangahu; 11. Michael Hodge, 12. Tom Carter, 13. Tom Kingston, 14. Nathan Trist; 15. Bernard Foley.
Manly: 1. Dane Maraki, 2. Anthony Hegarty, 3. Eddie Aholelei; 4. Ed Gower, 5. Cadeyrn Neville; 6. Kotoni Ale, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Tevita Metuisela; 9. Chris Cottee [c], 10. Willie Ripia; 11. Richard Hooper, 12. BJ Hartmann, 13. Andrew Smith, 14. Jacob Woodhouse; 15. Ben Seymour.
Referee: Ian Smith
2011 Head-to-Head
Round 10 – Manly 25 d Sydney University 19 at Manly Oval
Round 21 – Sydney University 32 d Manly 14 at University Oval No.1
Last Five Matches
Sydney University: Rd 22 defeated Warringah 45-7 (A); Rd 21 defeated Manly 32-14 (H); Rd 20 defeated Randwick 65-17 (A); Rd 19 defeated Gordon 81-12 (H); Rd 18 defeated Southern Districts 52-20 (H).
Manly: Elimination Semi-Final defeated Northern Suburbs 34-23 (Coogee); Rd 22 defeated Randwick 39-33 (A); Rd 21 lost to Sydney University 14-32 (A); Rd 20 defeated Southern Districts 31-12 (H); Rd 19 defeated Northern Suburbs 34-29 (A)..
Lower Grades
1:15pm Colin Caird Shield (2nd Grade): Sydney University (2nd) v Southern Districts (4th)
11:50am Henderson Shield (3rd Grade): Randwick (2nd) v Eastern Suburbs (3rd)
10:25am Henderson Cup (4th Grade): Sydney University (2nd) v West Harbour (3rd)

Preliminary Finals
Saturday 17 September – Forshaw Rugby Park
3:00pm W.McMahon Memorial Shield (Colts I): Sydney University (1st) v Randwick (5th)
1:25pm Shell Trophy (Colts II): Sydney University (1st) v West Harbour (6th)
12:00pm Colts III: Eastwood (1st) v Sydney University (4th)

Sunday 18 September – Forshaw Rugby Park
3:00pm W.McMahon Memorial Shield (Colts I): Manly (2nd) v Eastwood (3rd)
1:25pm Shell Trophy (Colts II): Eastern Suburbs (2nd) v Eastwood (4th)
12:00pm Colts III: Randwick (2nd) v Manly (3rd)







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