Welcome to the Shute Shield Round 8 predictions. Last week saw most of the results go as expected with Randwick’s 22 point demolition of Manly being the notable exception. This week sees some of the Shute Shield’s fiercest rivalries reignited as several games feature traditional foes.
Eastwood v West Harbour at TG Milner Field
Eastwood remain on top of the competition ladder after defeating Gordon 28-5 in a strong performance last week. Although the Woodies were guilty of some unforced errors, especially in the first half, they should be pleased with the clinical manner in which they were able to dispose of the Highlanders in the second 40. West Harbour is currently sitting in 10th position after their loss to Sydney University last week. The Pirates have shown plenty of potential in season 2019 but have occasionally struggled to keep their composure and discipline for the full 80 minutes. Wests have an excellent record against Eastwood in recent years but I think that the Woodies will be too strong on this occasion.
Hugh’s Prediction: Eastwood by 18
DrivingMaul Prediction: Eastwood by 20
Gordon v Northern Suburbs at Chatswood Oval
Gordon and Northern Suburbs have a long and fierce rivalry that dates back to the 1930s when Gordon was admitted to 1st Division. According to Norths historians, Gordon broke the original agreement by encroaching on the Shoremen’s territory when they based their club on the lower north shore at Chatswood instead of up the Pacific Highway at Waitara. Tensions were further strained after Gordon’s Wallaby fullback Laurie Monaghan kicked a drop goal after the siren in their final round clash in 1981 to not only win the game but also relegate Northern Suburbs to 2nd Division, where they spent the next 8 seasons. Gordon dominated the North Shore derbies in the early to mid-1990s when they won 3 premierships (including the 1998 victory over Norths in the Grand Final at the Sydney Football Stadium) fielding star-studded line-ups that featured the likes of Andrew and Cam Blades, Ross Reynolds, Andrew Mower, Stirling Mortlock, Tim Wallace and Alastair Murdoch. In recent years, Norths’ hard work off the field has translated into a resurgence on the field, culminating in their emotional 2016 premiership win in front of a packed house at the historic North Sydney Oval.
Last week against competition leaders Eastwood, Gordon was well and truly in the game until repeated scrum infringements led to a yellow card in the 60th minute. This was a pivotal moment in the match and Eastwood dominated the remaining 20 minutes before winning 28-5. The Shoremen were impressively clinical against Western Sydney in their Round 7 clash, winning 46-15. I’m tipping Norths to be too good and retain the Baxter Mortlock trophy (named after Norths stalwart Al Baxter and Gordon great Stirling Mortlock).
Hugh’s Prediction: Northern Suburbs by 10
DrivingMaul Prediction: Northern Suburbs by 20
Manly v Warringah at Manly Oval
The Battle of the Beaches is, according to rugby fans on the Peninsula, the biggest and most important sporting event on the calendar. This rivalry date back to the 1960s when a group of ex-Manly players founded the Warringah club to provide another rugby playing option for those on the northern end of the Peninsula. The Rats were very much in their big brother’s shadow in the early years, spending time in 2nd Division until they won promotion to the Shute Shield in 1971. The rivalry as we know it today really took off when one of Manly’s favourite sons, Wallaby Tony “Slaggy” Miller (after whom the grandstand at Manly Oval is named), was lured north to coach the Rats in 1977. The Northern Beaches derby has since become one of the most watched and keenly anticipated matches in the Shute Shield. Games between the two clubs are just as hard fought at the junior representative and colts levels. The rivalry is best summed up through an anecdote by former NSW Under 19 and 21 representative and now Fox Sports identity Sean Maloney. Maloney grew up with the blue blood of the Manly Marlins (known as the Blues in those days) running through his veins. He captained junior rep and colts teams in the mid to late 1990s before progressing to 1st Grade and becoming Manly’s Club Captain. In 2006 he was lured north of the Narrabeen Bridge to Rat Park by then coach Andrew Cox who, through a family connection, was able to offer Maloney a shot at a gig with Fox Sports. That year Maloney’s father, a man who has spent many years on the field and on the hill at Manly Oval, only gave him one gift at Christmas – a large lollipop because “You suck”.
Manly enter this match off the back of a surprise 37-15 loss to Randwick while the Rats have struck form over the past few rounds with strong wins over Southern Districts and Randwick. This match will be played in front of a capacity crowd at the Village Green and the Marlins Army and Warringah Hillbillies will be in full cry. I’m predicting that Warringah will be too strong and will be celebrating long and hard back at the Newport (Arms) Hotel with the Mounties Cup safely in their possession.
Hugh’s Prediction: Warringah by 9
DrivingMaul Prediction: Warringah by 4
Sydney University v Southern Districts at Sydney University Football Ground
Sydney University secured second place on the ladder with their 19 point win over West Harbour last week. The fact that the Students have a 50% win-loss record shows how open the competition is at this point. Southern Districts have struggled in recent weeks, losing their past 3 games to Warringah, Western Sydney and Manly. They’ve now dropped down to 5th on the ladder and could well fall out of the top 6 should they lose to Uni. This really is a must win for the Rebels who also face tough matches against Norths and Eastwood in coming weeks. Sydney University is always a formidable opponent, especially at home, and on current form the Rebels will struggle.
Hugh’s Prediction: Sydney University by 12
DrivingMaul Prediction: Sydney University by 15
Western Sydney v Eastern Suburbs at Lidcombe Oval
The Western Sydney Two Blues came back down to earth with a thud last week with a 46-15 loss to Northern Suburbs. The Two Blues fought hard despite fielding an understrength side due to injury and suspension, but were outclassed by the Shoremen. Eastern Suburbs are coming off a bye and will be looking to build on their 2 point win over Eastwood in Round 6. A strong performance here will see Easts continue to improve their position on the ladder before arguably tougher games against Gordon and Norths in coming weeks. I’m predicting a big win to the Beasties.
Hugh’s Prediction: Eastern Suburbs by 20
DrivingMaul Prediction: Eastern Suburbs by 10
Hugh: 17 from 30
DrivingMaul: 18 from 30
Oh no we have gone for the same picks again this week! I promise that I make my picks before reading Hugh’s
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