Our Match of the Round this weekend takes us to Holroyd Sports Ground, where the Western Sydney Two Blues host the Penrith Emus in a clash that sees both sides searching for their first win of the 2021 season.
The Emus will no doubt be the fresher of the two teams, coming off a bye round following their 73-point shellacking at the hands of Norths in Round One.
Penrith have struggled since returning to the Shute Shield last season and find themselves in a winless slump which stretches back to Round 17 2014, marked by a 38-36 win over West Harbour.
However, this weekends fixture brews as the perfect opportunity to break this winning hoodoo, a fact that Penrith Head Coach John Muggleton is all too aware of.
“Within the community, a win will certainly rekindle people’s desire to play – which is the most important thing,” he said.
“If we can take that first step and secure a win then our confidence will improve, and we can restore some belief within this Club.”
But a win against their western Sydney rivals won’t come easy, with Muggleton expecting a characteristically physical encounter.
“If they continue their form from last year then I expect they’ll attack our scrum, which will suit us as we have a strong new pack this season,” he said.
“If our set piece is on then I suspect we can play as much positive rugby as our opposition.”
The Western Sydney Two Blues were dealt horror fixtures to open their 2020 campaign, having already faced off against last season’s grand finalists – Gordon and Eastwood.
Despite this, Two Blues Head Coach Joel Rivers believes their opening two fixtures were the test his side needed to complete a sustained 80-minute performance.
“It was a tough start to the season, but I thought in the opening periods of each match we were really good,” he said.
“If we can combine our defense against Eastwood and our attack against Gordon into an entire performance, we can be really strong.
“We know we can match it with those top sides, now it’s about matching it for longer.”
In the corresponding fixture last season, Western Sydney came out on top in a 36-29 tussle with the Emus.
Rivers’ side will be hoping for a repeat of this result to help kick start the Two Blues winning form in season 2021.
“We feel like we’re close to a win,” he said.
“It would be a huge relief, give the boys such a boost in confidence and can even set us on a really strong run of form.”
With both the Two Blues and Emus desperate to secure a victory in this seasons Charter Hall Shute Shield, it’s set to be another classic edition of the western Sydney rivalry.
1. Nick Blacklock
2. Josh Havea
3. Paea Tapuosi
4. John Akauola Laula
5. Alan Rathbun
6. Riley Jacobson
7. George Prain
8. Tevita Vea
9. Sam Babb
10. Rory Garrett
11. Api Bera
12. Tepai Moeroa
13. Theo Steffany
14. Saiyasi Ikanidrodro
15. John Pale
1. Ezekiel Seia
2. Leon Bongare
3. Jackson Clarke
4. Callum Adams
5. Tofua Fifita
6. Andrew Fiagatusa
7. Mathew Faoagali
8. Willie Tooala
9. Joseph Faoagali
10. Elia Morisio
11. Solo Turuva
12. Steven Gibson
13. Jale Seninawanwa
14. Jo Mar
15. Vili Cerei
Holroyd Sports Ground – Saturday 3pm
Watch the Charter Hall Shute Shield Ad-Free, Live and On-Demand on Stan Sports.