Shute Shield: Round 6 Talking Points

Wed, May 15, 2024, 2:23 AM
NSW Rugby
by NSW Rugby

Western Sydney upset Norths on a wet afternoon at Eric Tweedale Stadium last Saturday, while West Harbour also caused a boilover, beating Eastwood to claim their first win of the season. 

Here are a few things we picked up from round six last weekend 

Two Blues and Stags claim statement wins

After struggling for consistency in the early rounds of the season, both Western Sydney and Gordon proved they are genuine contenders over the weekend, with impressive wins over Norths and Randwick, last year’s grand finalists. 

Coming off a disappointing loss to Hunter in Newcastle last week, the Two Blues controlled the tempo of the match against Norths brilliantly, something few sides have been able to do so far this year. 

In the final minutes, they earned a scrum penalty and knocked over a clutch penalty to seal the win. 

Gordon were also super impressive. A week after belting Manly at Manly Oval, the Stags muscled up again and bullied the Randwick forward pack at times on a muddy deck at Chatswood. 

After opening the season with two losses, the Stags have won four straight matches and will head into Saturday’s away clash against Eastwood full of confidence. 

West Harbour finally rewarded for plenty of hard work

A week after falling just short in a three point loss to Southern Districts, West Harbour produced their best performance of the season to beat Eastwood at TG Millner. 

The Pirates haven’t been far off the pace all season but have struggled in key moments of matches. 

Young flyhalf Hunter Hannaford was fantastic in the win, while the Pirates’ forward pack proved that they pack plenty of punch. 

Uni fans relieved

After losing three games by four points or less in the past month, Sydney Uni finally found a way to close out a tight victory against Hunter on Saturday. 

Uni trailed 29-21 midway through the second half but took control of the match around the 60 minute mark and looked home at 38-29 with just minutes on the clock. 

But as they’ve done continually this year, the Students kept things interesting for their fans, conceding a try from a maul, then giving the ball back to Hunter deep inside their own half with time remaining. 

Fortunately for the home fans, Uni held on for an important win. They travel to play Souths and West Harbour in the next two rounds and could find themselves in the top six, or under plenty of pressure by the middle point of the season. 

There’s something in the water at Rat Park

Warringah claimed a second miraculous come from behind victory in as many weeks, beating Easts 27-22 after trailing 22-10 in the 65th minute. 

The Rats just don’t seem to quit and it’s helped them claim top spot on the ladder. 

Coach Josh Holmes probably isn’t thrilled with how his team is drifting in and out of games, but they keep finding a way to win, which is a quality most good sides seem to have. 

It’s still early days, but something special is building up at Rat Park. 

On the other side of the equation, Easts dropped a second straight match that they probably should have won and will drop out of the top six unless they can beat Norths this weekend. 

Gibbs v Bowen is worth the price of admission

Speaking of Easts v Norths, the battle of the two best young 10s in the competition will be well worth a watch on Saturday. 

20-year-old Bowen is contracted at the Waratahs and made his Super Rugby debut last year. 

22-year-old Gibbs hasn’t got an opportunity at the next level yet but isn’t far off based on his Shute Shield form over the past two seasons. 

Throw in Eastwood’s Tane Edmed, still only 23, and there’s plenty to be positive about looking ahead if Australian rugby can show some patience with young players in key positions.