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Seven sides out to steal Woodies' Shute Shield crown
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By NSWRU Media Unit
Shute Shield Finals Week 1 Preview
The 2012 Shute Shield finals series gets underway this weekend when the top eight teams go head to head in the hope of sealing the title of Shute Shield champions.
Among those hoping to steal the crown from reigning Shute Shield premiers and 2012 minor premiers Eastwood is emerging force Southern Districts, who will have first crack at the reigning champions when the two sides meet in the ABC game of the day on Sunday in the first round of the finals series.
Strong title contenders this year, the resurgent Manly Marlins have shown they have the form needed for finals rugby, finishing second on the ladder after the 16-round regular season. This Saturday's ABC game of the day will see them take on last year's runners' up, Sydney University, who are again hotly tipped for a finals berth after hitting a rich vein of form in recent weeks.
The new finals format will give these top four teams two chances to qualify for the semi finals, with the winners progressing straight to the final four and the preliminary finals in week three. The losers will be in action again next weekend, with a win essential to finals hopes.
In other week one finals matches, the fifth- to eighth-placed teams will fight it out for a place in the second week of the finals series, with sixth-placed Northern Suburbs playing seventh-placed Warringah at Woollahra Oval on Saturday, and Parramatta (five) taking on cross town rivals West Harbour (eighth) at Merrylands RSL Rugby Park. The surprise package of 2012, Parramatta make their first Shute Shield finals appearance in 21 years.
These games are elimination qualifiers with just two teams - the winners of each match - proceeding into next round of finals where they will play the losing top-seeds for a spot in the final four.
Just four teams will contest the qualifying finals in week three, with the two winners meeting in the 2012 Grand Final on Saturday September 15.
With the finals now underway, viewers in NSW and ACT can catch the best of the Shute Shield action on ABC1 across the weekend.
In a new addition to viewing rugby in 2012, Club Rugby TV provides rugby viewers with the option to watch additional Shute Shield games in HD quality each week including commentary, highlights and interviews, all for free. A big plus for club rugby fans, the Club Rugby TV service is now FREE and its flexibility supports viewing on computer, Iphone, Ipad and IPTV, all in full HD.
You can also stay in touch with the Shute Shield on Facebook via
where you can catch game highlights and a preview of the upcoming ABC TV match.
Alternatively, follow the Shute Shield on Twitter via
where you can send your thoughts through the week and receive live updates during games. You can also catch highlights of every round on the new
ShuteShieldTV channel on YouTube.
You can catch up on all the Shute Shield action via digital radio with ABC Grandstands new rugby show The Clubhouse. Hosted by Patrick Foulkes and Niav Owens the program will be on-air for half an hour every Monday evening from 6:05pm. To tune in go to the ABC website and click "listen live" or download the show on the blog any time
(Brackets indicate position on Shute Shield ladder)
EASTWOOD (1) v SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (4) (ABC TV game 3pm, Sunday 26 August)
Last time Eastwood met Southern Districts in round 14, it was the Woodies who came out victors despite having just 14 men on the park for most of the match, after flanker Aisea Namoa was red carded early in the first half. Southern Districts blew a great lead, allowing Eastwood to sneak home in a thrilling match, which will give the Rebels added motivation coming into the match this weekend.
Rebels flanker Sam Latunipulu returns to the first grade side where he will be surrounded by a number of in-form players who will undoubtedly pose a threat to Eastwood on Sunday. Five HSBC Waratahs have been named in the starting line up, including Lopeti Timani at No.8, Atieli Pakalani on the wing, Grayson Hart at halfback, Kane Douglas at lock and hooker John Ulugia who will captain the Rebels.
1. Marty Plokstys, 2. Chris Hill, 3. Barry Fa'amausili; 4. Tom Alexander, 5. Mitch Lees; 6. Chris Alcock, 7. Miles McCaffrey, 8. Hugh Perrett [c]; 9. Mick Snowden, 10. Barney Wood; 11. Nick Reily, 12. Jimmy Hilgendorf, 13. Cam Mitchell, 14. Mark Frost; 15. Ben Batger.
1. Tetera Faulkner, 2. John Ulugia [c], 3. Tim Metcher; 4. Jed Holloway, 5. Kane Douglas; 6. Sam Latunipulu, 7. Jono Hayes, 8. Lopeti Timani; 9. Grayson Hart, 10. Rohan Saifolio; 11. Ben Connolly, 12. Apo Latunipulu, 13. Nic Cummins, 14. Atieli Pakalani; 15. Ben Volalvola.
MANLY (2) v SYDNEY UNIVERSITY (3) at Coogee Oval (ABC TV game 3pm, Saturday 25 August)
Manly will also be looking towards a Grand Final position when they start their finals campaign against Sydney University at Coogee Oval. The Marlins go into this weekend on the back of some great form and will want to replicate their round 14 victory over the Students.
Much of that form has been built upon the Marlins forward pack, arguably the biggest in the competition. Two HSBC Waratahs feature in the side in Greg Peterson and Tevita Metuisela, alongside Cadeyrn Neville who was sensational for the Melbourne Rebels in 2012. The Marlins backline is equally dangerous and thrives on counter attacking rugby, with winger Richard Hooper and fullback Jacob Woodhouse linking up several times this season to score a number of tries for their side.
Conversely, last year's finalists Sydney University have had a shaky run into the finals winning three of their last five. A one-point loss to the reigning premiers Eastwood in round 15A and a psychological loss to Manly in round 14 will give the Students a desire for retribution coming into the finals series. Four HSBC Waratahs including Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Tom Carter and Tom Kingston will feature for Uni and will undoubtedly provide valuable experience in the quest to overcome the in-form Marlins.
1. Dane Maraki, 2. Elvis Taione, 3. Jono Owen; 4. Ed Gower, 5. Greg Peterson; 6. Cadeyrn Neville, 7. Kotoni Ale, 8. Tevita Metuisela; 9. Chris Cottee [c], 10. Scott Daruda; 11. Lui Siale, 12. Peter Gilmore, 13. Brian Sefanaia, 14. Richard Hooper; 15. Jacob Woodhouse.
1. Jeremy Tilse, 2. Nathan Charles, 3. Paddy Ryan; 4. Liam Winton, 5. Ollie Atkins; 6. Trent Dyer, 7. David Hickey, 8. Tim Davidson [c]; 9. Nic Stirzaker, 10. Daniel Kelly; 11. Michael Hodge, 12. Tom Carter, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Tom Kingston; 15. Angus Roberts.
NORTHERN SUBURBS (6) v WARRINGAH (7) at Woollahra Oval (3pm, Saturday 25 August)
Northern Suburbs enter the qualifying finals with some fantastic wins to their name and some tight losses that will only inspire the side to push harder when they come up against Warringah this weekend. Close losses to Sydney University and most recently Eastwood highlight the danger that the Shoremen pose to the top four teams in the Shute Shield. The inclusion of Dave Harvey late in the season has given the first grade side a massive lift and an ability to score points from anywhere on the park.
Similarly, Warringah have seen the late inclusion of a number of Super Rugby players push the side to another level, helping them achieve a spot in the finals after an inconsistent start to the 2012 season. The late arrival of lock Hugh Pyle, No.8 Richard Brown and halfback Brett Sheehan into the side, adding some much needed experience to the Rats' side, helping them to a remarkable run to finish seventh overall on the Shute Shield ladder.
The winner of this match will progress to week two, where they will play the loser of Eastwood v Southern Districts.
1. Cruz Ah Nau, 2.Scott Podmore, 3. Nick Lah; 4 Rory Walton, 5. Ben Matwijow; 6. Pat Sio, 7. Wil Brame, 8. AJ Gilbert [c]; 9. Dave Hardisty, 10. Dave Harvey; 11. Corey Brown. 12. Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 13. Samu Wara 14. Peter Schuster; 15. Mitch Walton.
1. Pek Cowan, 2. Luke Holmes, 3. Ray Brown; 4. Ben Adams, 5. Hugh Pyle; 6. Mark Porpiglia, 7. James Casey, 8. Richard Brown; 9. Brett Sheehan, 10. Hamish Angus [c]; 11. Michael Dalton, 12. Chris Arnold, 13. Dylan Smouha, 14. Edward Doyle; 15. David Feltscheer.
PARRAMATTA (5) v WEST HARBOUR (8) at Merrylands RSL Rugby Park (3pm, Sunday 26 August)
The Two Blues' expansive style of rugby has seen them win four of their last five matches to finish in fifth spot overall on the Shute Shield ladder.
West Harbour have also been playing a similarly wide game, looking for every opportunity to move the ball and give their outside backs plenty of space to run in tries. The Pirates went down to Parramatta 29-22 in round 15B after leaving their run too late.
The winner of this match will progress to week two, where they will play the loser of Manly v Sydney University.
1. Nicholas Blacklock, 2. Trent Hosher, 3. Chris Seuteni; 4. Evan Olmstead, 5. Adam Coleman; 6. Ryan Aniseko, 7. Rodney Ma'a, 8. Andrew Cox [c]; 9. Kaleb Rech, 10. Tom Woods; 11. Moses Tavola, 12. Damien Fakafanua, 13. Iese Leota, 14. Sosene Anesi, 15. Daley Harper.
1. Michael Alaalatoa, 2.Reg De Jager, 3. Vaughan Lomax; 4. Alfed Pinomi, 5. Tom Patterson; 6. Tom Games, 7. Sione Tau, 8 Vaka Manu,; 9. Ben Murray, 10. Henry Seavula; 11. Tito Mua, 12. Nua Alone, 13. Rory Sidey, 14. Oleni Ngungutau; 15. Shaun Treweek.
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