This season we expand our predictions to include the premier club competition in Australia! That’s right here are Sydney’s Shute Shield predictions are here. Now let’s be honest I don’t know much about the Shute Shield so I have roped in my mate Hugh to write these.
Randwick v Eastwood at Coogee Oval
Randwick is traditionally one of the strongest clubs in Sydney club rugby and the Galloping Greens are world famous for their unique brand of running rugby. Although they won a string of first grade premierships in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, success has been harder to come by in the professional era. They will be looking to improve on a disappointing 2018 under new coach Hadley Jackson. Eastwood also has a new coach in 2019, with former first grade premiership winning fullback Ben Batger taking over from John Manenti, who is now in charge of the Australian Women’s’ Sevens program. The Woodies have lost influential playmaker Jay Ayoub to retirement but have recruited very well, and could well be a force to be reckoned with in 2019. I’m tipping Eastwood to be too strong for the young Randwick side.
Hugh’s Prediction: Eastwood by 12
DrivingMaul Prediction: Randwick by 5
Southern Districts v West Harbour at Forshaw Rugby Park
Southern Districts is another club with a new coach in 2019, appointing the former Scottish A representative Don Mackinnon. Mackinnon takes over from Matt Barr, who led the Rebels to a grand final loss against Eastwood in his first year. The Rebels will also be searching for a replacement for their long serving Samoan International flyhalf Rohan Saifoloi, who has returned to Queensland. West Harbour has been one of the enigmas of the Shute Shield in recent years; brilliant one week and average the next. Not unusually for Wests, there has been another large turnover of players and the Pirates will be looking for consistency on and off the field in 2019. Winning at Forshaw can be tough and this week will be no different.
Hugh’s Prediction: Southern Districts by 5
DrivingMaul Prediction: Southern Districts by 5
Sydney University v Eastern Suburbs at University Oval Number 2
The match of the round sees two of the competition favourites and traditional rivals battling it out at University Oval. Last year’s premiers Sydney University undoubtedly boast one of the most professional setups in the Shute Shield. Their depth in key positions has also been one of the driving forces behind their success. Easts were one of the big improvers last year, qualifying for the finals for the first time since 2013, and with a very similar team in 2019, they will again be one of the teams to beat. This should be a tight one but I’m tipping Uni to get the job done at home.
Hugh’s Prediction: Sydney University by 3
DrivingMaul Prediction: Sydney University by 20
Warringah v Northern Suburbs at Rat Park
Warringah will be looking to go one better in 2019 after finishing as runner’s up last year, despite losing coach Darren Coleman and a number of key players to Gordon in the off season. New coach club legend and former Wallaby Mark Gerrard, will be looking to ensure that Rat Park remains a graveyard for visiting teams. Norths, like Warringah, have also experienced success in recent years following a period of rebuilding. 30 year old rookie coach Nick Hensley has high hopes for the Shoremen this year and it’s hard to see them not making the finals. I’m tipping the infamous Warringah Hillbillies to help get the Rats home in a close contest.
Hugh’s Prediction: Warringah by 7
DrivingMaul Prediction: Warringah by 7
Manly v Western Sydney at Manly Oval
The final match of Round 1 sees the rebranded Western Sydney Two Blues (formerly Parramatta) travelling to the Village Green at Manly to take on the Marlins. Manly has been one of the competition heavyweights in recent years and despite the departure of several big name players including Josh Turner, Sam Lane, Dennis Pili Gaitau, coach Billy Melrose is determined to have the Marlins finish in the top 4 in 2019. The Two Blues boast the 2018 Ken Catchpole Medallist in captain Adam Musico, and a strong physical forward pack. They will be looking to improve on their 3 wins in 2018 but look to be outclassed here.
Hugh’s Prediction: Manly by 15
DrivingMaul Prediction: Manly by 7
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