Welcome to the Shute Shield Round 9 predictions. Last week’s results were predominately as expected with many punters, yours truly included, tipping a perfect round. However, there is always a chance of an upset in this competition and several games last week weren’t decided until the final minutes.
The highlight of the round for many was the Battle of the Beaches between Manly and Warringah at Manly Oval. Estimates put the crowd at close to 10,000 with Manly President Anthony Bergelin stating that he has never seen a bigger crowd at Manly. This shows that Sydney club rugby is continuing to thrive, especially on the northern beaches.
For those readers able to view 7 Two or access 7 Plus (https://7plus.com.au/shute-shield), the televised game this week is Easts’ annual Beach to Bush game against Gordon at Wade Park in Orange. The Shute Shield match will be followed by the big local derby between Orange Emus and Orange City with 3 of the 4 clubs sporting one-off Indigenous themed jerseys to mark Reconciliation Week here in Australia. The jerseys will be auctioned off after the games to raise funds for a number of Indigenous causes, including the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Program. Congratulations to all involved.
Eastern Suburbs v Gordon at Wade Park, Orange
Eastern Suburbs return to Orange fresh off a 20 point win over the Western Sydney Two Blues. The Beasties have had a welcome return to form of late, winning their last 3 games. They were one of the preseason favourites and a win this week could see them return to the top 4. Gordon will be disappointed to be sitting in 9th position after 8 rounds as they started the season with the expectation that they would return to finals football this year after a shocking 2018 season. Last week the Highlanders led Northern Suburbs for the majority of the game only to eventually go down 18-14. An 80 minute performance here could see Gordon in with a big chance of an upset but Easts’ recent form is too hard to ignore.
Hugh’s Prediction: Eastern Suburbs by 5
DrivingMaul Prediction: Eastern Suburbs by 10
Eastwood v Warringah at TG Milner Field
For many, the game between competition leaders Eastwood and 4th placed Warringah is the match of the round. The Woodies will start the game as favourites after strong wins over West Harbour and Gordon in recent weeks. This will be a tougher game and Eastwood will be keen to secure another win ahead of their upcoming bye in Round 11. Warringah is another team who has struck form recently. They have won their past 4 games, including last week’s win over arch rivals Manly. The Rats trailed 22-3 at halftime before staging a monumental comeback to clinch a 31-25 victory in the dying minutes. Eastwood are always tough to beat at Milner and I’m predicting that they will just edge out Warringah in a tight one.
Hugh’s Prediction: Eastwood by 3
DrivingMaul Prediction: Warringah by 3
Northern Suburbs v Southern Districts at North Sydney Oval
Northern Suburbs held on to 3rd position after a 4 point win over local rivals Gordon in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Chatswood Oval last Saturday night. With Warringah only 1 point behind on the ladder and the top 2 teams having the bye in coming weeks, the Shoremen will have extra incentive to keep winning. Southern Districts won their opening 3 games but have now lost 4 on the trot and are yet to beat a top 6 side. The Rebels don’t always travel well and Norths are on a roll, so I’m tipping a comfortable Northern Suburbs victory.
Hugh’s Prediction: Northern Suburbs by 14
DrivingMaul Prediction: Northern Suburbs by 10
Randwick v Western Sydney at Coogee Oval
Randwick enter their Round 9 clash fresh off the bye following their surprise Round 7 thrashing of Manly. The Wicks have a young side and after a slow start it looks like new coach Hadley Jackson is starting to have a positive impact down at Coogee. The Western Sydney Two Blues showed plenty of heart to score 20 points against Easts in Round 8 but their defence gave up 40 plus points for the second consecutive week. The Two Blues will be giving themselves a realistic chance at winning this game but I’m predicting that Randwick will be too good.
Hugh’s Prediction: Randwick by 15
DrivingMaul Prediction: Randwick by 7
West Harbour v Manly at Concord Oval
West Harbour won 2 of their opening 3 games but have found the going much tougher in recent weeks, managing only a draw and 3 losses in their last 4 outings. Playing smart, composed rugby for 80 minutes continues to be the challenge for the Pirates. Last week they scored 27 points against Eastwood but let in 43 in a poor defensive effort. Manly will be disappointed with their second half capitulation against Warringah last week. The Marlins are now 3-4 and are only just hanging on to 6th position. Coach Brian Melrose has his eyes on a top 4 position so will be looking for a more complete performance from his team this week. I’m predicting that Manly will win and win well.
Manly haven’t won away this season and West Harbour haven’t been defeated at home this season.
Hugh’s Prediction: Manly by 17
DrivingMaul Prediction: West Harbour by 5
Bye: Sydney University
Hugh: 17 from 30
DrivingMaul: 18 from 30
To be updated……
Don’t miss out on any predictions by signing up for the DrivingMaul newsletter that drops into your email inbox every Thursday.