Beer retains steely focus in pursuit of ultimate Shute Shield success

by Declan Armstrong

Norths Head Coach, Zak Beer, admits that his side remain staunchly focused on themselves as they prepare to host Eastwood this Saturday, in arguably their biggest test so far this season.

Following a nervous 22-15 victory over West Harbour in Round Five, the Shoremen join Sydney University as the two undefeated sides to date. 

Despite the perfect start to 2021, Beer believes his side remain focused on key areas which require growth ahead of their clash against the Woodies. 

“We’re very aware of what our strengths are as a team,” he said. 

“But part of that is recognising where you need to improve and focusing on that for these big games. 

“Our set piece and breakdown work are an area we’ve spent a significant amount of focus on and we expect these skills to be key to our success in the coming weeks.”

Eastwood return after a heartbreaking three-point loss to Warringah last Saturday, after the Rats held on 40-37 despite being a man down for most of the closing stages. 

However, the Woodies remain one of the biggest attacking threats in the Shute Shield competition, averaging a daunting 42-points each match in 2021. 

Despite this looming statistic, it’s an area that Beer is confident his team will nullify.  

“If you look at these scores in isolation, you’ll notice there are big scores on both sides of the ledger,” he said. 

“We can’t control how many points they score against other sides, but what we can control is how many they score against us on Saturday.

“We’ve identified some areas where Eastwood are dangerous and recognised some patterns in their attacking play. 

“It’s down to us now to believe in our system and know that it’ll stand up for us.” 

This Saturday’s clash holds significant underlying value for Norths, who exited the competition at the hands of Eastwood in last year’s Semi-Final. 

The 12-9 defeat equalled the ledger between the two sides last year, after Norths prevailed in a thrilling 41-38 encounter in Round 8. 

With Sydney University set to battle Eastern Suburbs this weekend at Woollahra Oval, a Norths victory against the Woodies could gift the Shoremen an opportunity to go outright first on the Shute Shield ladder. 

However, Head Coach Beer admits all this hype is secondary to Norths in their pursuit for success. 

“These matches are about focusing on our own unit and understanding the Norths identity,” he said. 

“If you focus too much on the external noise or the bigger picture, you drop the ball in big moments. 

“This group has bold ambitions, but we will only achieve them if everybody in the Club fulfills their role in these big matches.”

Norths host Eastwood this Saturday 3pm at North Sydney Oval. 

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