Defiant Wicks Dampen Woods’ Spirits
It wasn’t pretty at times but Randwick will certainly take their hard-earned 20-13 victory over Eastwood with open arms. A match played under testing conditions with driving rain and a stiff sea breeze was always likely to be an arm-wrestle but it was the young Wicks side that rose to the challenge, upsetting the reigning Premiers with a display chock-full of desire and application to forge a 17-3 lead at the break, before holding firm under a Woodies’ onslaught in the second half to record a significant win as they prepare for finals footy.
A deluge of rain during the week and just before kick-off left a slippery deck for both sides to contend with but it was the home side that visibly settled earlier, an Andrew Deegan penalty sailing past the uprights in only the 3rd minute but signalling their intent.
Ben Batger made no mistake for the Woods a minute later, getting the table-toppers off the mark with customary aplomb after Mark Baldwin was pinged for not releasing. But the game was turned on its head from the next attack, Eastwood winger John Grant penalised for taking a man in the air and rewarded with 10 minutes on the sideline to reflect on his decision.
The Galloping Greens wasted no time in punishing their opponents’ numerical disadvantage, a bit of David Horwitz magic helping his side establish a 7pt lead off the next incursion into enemy territory. Growing into his recent no.12 role, the Waratah kept the defence guessing with the ball in two hands before striding into a gap and finding the predatory Andrew Kellaway off his shoulder and Deegan added the extras.
As the rain swept in again off the Tasman, the electronic scoreboard at Coogee Oval decided to pull up stumps early. But when Deegan added a penalty at the end of the first quarter to make it 10-3, the deficit they faced was certainly not lost on an Eastwood side struggling to find any sort of rhythm.
The Wicks were making a better job of playing the conditions, Deegan and Horwitz plugging the corners and forcing the Woods to turn around while the visitors were probably guilty of trying to play a bit too much football. And when they did try to get some pay up the middle, the home side’s linespeed choked their time, space and decision making.
The efforts across the park from all fifteen men were rewarded with a second five-pointer 10 minutes before the break. Horwitz was the catalyst once again, delaying a pop pass with precision before releasing Sam Figg and when the flanker’s wide pass arrived in the hands of winger Jack Pennington, he had too much gas for the cover defence to dive over.
17-3 down, a different Woods returned after the break, no doubt with a flea in their ears from coach John Manenti, and having set up camp inside the home 22, gained some reward – and an and an important psychological boost – with a second penalty from Batger.
Resorting to their power game, the visitors stuck it up their jumpers and drove forward en masse, the pressure finally telling when repeat offences saw Stephen Hoiles given an enforced rest, and it was perhaps the 10 minutes spent without the influential loose forward, that proved pivotal.
The most porous defence in the Shute Shield’s current top six, showed their true mettle when it counted, muscling up time and again to frustrate their lofty opponents with some terrific scramble defence to quell Eastwood’s resurgence and frustrate their gathering momentum.
However, the visitors persisted with their increasingly forward platform and eventually, with 15 minutes left on the clock, they kick-started their fightback in earnest, no.8 George Kent flopping over after a dominant drive from his pack off a 5 metre scrum.
Batger’s conversion made it a 4pt ball game and as the enveloping darkness took hold, Randwick prepared to dig in for the final denouement. But a yellow card to industrious no.7 Mark Baldwin wasn’t in their script, gifting the Woods another opportunity within range and a chance for late glory.
But as they had done all match, the Galloping Greenhorns fronted up to thwart the white and blue wave and force the turnover, much to the delight of the Coogee faithful.
The successful rearguard action served as a timely spur for the hosts and their next attack, a rare foray into the Eastwood 22 in the second stanza, procured the match winning points. An over-anxious Woods defence strayed offside, allowing Deegan to dissect the posts for three more and confirm a memorable – and thoroughly well deserved – victory.
Randwick 20 (Andrew Kellaway, Jack Pennington tries; Andrew Deegan 2 cons, 2 pens) Eastwood 13 (George Kent try, Ben Batger con, 2 pens)
INTRUST SUPER SHUTE SHIELD – SATURDAY 18 JULY 2015
Warringah v Sydney University
Pittwater Rugby Park – 3.00pm
Referee: Edward Martin
ARS: Greg Johnstone, Colm McCaughan
Sydney University 29 (P McCutcheon, G Jeloudev, M Whiteley, J Stewart tries; A Roberts 3 goals 1 penalty goal) beat Warringah 21 (J Holmes 2, B Killingworth tries; H Angus 3 goals)
Gordon v Manly
Chatswood Oval – 3.00pm
Referee: William Houston
ARS: Lincoln Stollery, Richard Manchee
Manly 32 (D Alley, T Donlan, S Lane, A Northam tries; R Hodge 3 goals 2 penalty goals) beat Gordon 17 (P Curtin, T Gukibau tries; W Shirvington 2 goals 1 penalty goal)
Randwick v Eastwood
Coogee Oval – 3.00pm
Referee: Michael Hogan
ARS: Matthew Kellahan, Bradley Smith
Randwick 20 (A Kellaway, J Pennington tries; A Deegan 2 goals, 2 penalty goals) beat Eastwood 13 (G Kent try; B Batger goal, 2 penalty goals)
Southern Districts v Penrith
Forshaw Rugby Park – 3.00pm
Referee: Andrew Lees
ARS: Ben Wawn, Aragon Heppel
Southern Districts 76( A Gibbon 5, L Dwyer 2, J Holloway2, B Connelly, A Latunipulu, B Ryan tries; J McGregor 8 goals) beat Penrith 10 (S Pusiaki-Fifita try; P Ironside goal penalty goal)
Parramatta v West Harbour
Merrylands RSL Rugby Park – 3.00pm
Referee: Richard Goswell
ARS: Darren Bradley, Robert Mey
West Harbour 31 (D Midghall, C Masson, M Beer, T Mua, D Moore tries; A Le Lievre 3 goals) beat Parramatta 29 (L Casey 2, F Silva, R Haika tries; N Langsford 2, J Poe 1 goals, N Langsford 1 penalty goal)
Northern Suburbs v Eastern Suburbs
North Sydney Oval – 3.00pm
Referee: Charles Hartson
ARS: Nick Hannon, Davis Prichard-Jones
Northern Suburbs 22 (W Brame, J Brown, J Porch tries; J Kay goal, M Walton goal penalty goal) beat Eastern Suburbs 17 (C Clifton 2 tries; A King 2 goals penalty goal)