Welcome to the Shute Shield Semi-Finals predictions. This week we have the top 4 teams from the regular season competing for a spot in next week’s Grand Final. Interestingly, the four remaining teams (Sydney University, Eastwood, Warringah and Northern Suburbs) have won all but 2 of the last 20 grand finals, with the Students and Woodies winning 16 between them.
For the first time, both semi-finals will be played as a double header at North Sydney Oval. With next week’s grand final being played at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, some readers may see the decision to play both semi-finals at North Sydney, which hosted the Grand Final in 2016-2018, as an attempt by the Sydney Rugby Union to appease the clubs and fans who reside north of the harbour and were disappointed with the move to Bankwest. The double header concept has received a mixed response from club rugby fans on social media. Some are pleased to have finals matches back at North Sydney, due mostly to its geographic location as well as its history and wonderful atmosphere. Others have lamented the fact that the teams who finished higher on the ladder at the end of the regular season have not been rewarded with a home semi-final, as has happened in previous years. North Sydney Oval is of course, the home of the Northern Suburbs club and interestingly, Norths are the lowest ranked team to qualify for the semi-finals.
For those readers able to view 7 Two or access 7 Plus (https://7plus.com.au/shute-shield), both semi-finals will be shown live on Saturday.
Eastwood v Warringah at North Sydney Oval
Eastwood qualified for the semi-finals with a hard fought 24-21 win over Eastern Suburbs. The Woodies lost to the Beasties twice in the regular season but were able to reverse the trend, thanks at least in part to their dominant scrum. Eastwood looked set to claim the minor premiership before their final round loss to Easts. Warringah also won their qualifying final, demolishing Northern Suburbs 24-7. The Rats led the competition for much of the season, winning 9 consecutive matches before late season losses to Norths and Southern Districts. These 2 teams met back on the 1st of June, where the Rats were victorious by 2 points. Both teams appear to have regained some of the form that they showed earlier this season and this game is a very difficult one to predict.
Hugh’s Prediction: Warringah by 3
DrivingMaul Prediction: Warringah by 3
Sydney University v Northern Suburbs at North Sydney Oval
Sydney University is the form team of the competition and will again enter this week’s match as the firm favourite. The Students went on a 5 game winning streak at the end of the regular season, which coincided with the return of some notable Super Rugby contracted players and led to them winning the minor premiership. In last week’s qualifying final, they eliminated Manly with a 47-31 victory. Northern Suburbs conversely, have displayed a worrying lack of form of late. The Shoremen have now lost 4 consecutive games, including last week’s 24-7 defeat by the Rats in the qualifying final. The last time these 2 teams met, University demolished Norths 66-17. I am expecting a closer game this time but am still predicting a comfortable win by the Students, despite the Shoremen enjoying home ground advantage.
Hugh’s Prediction: Sydney University by 18
DrivingMaul Prediction: Sydney University by 20
Hugh: 59 from 93
DrivingMaul: 58 from 90
DrivingMaul – The final game this weekend will break the deadlock between us!
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