A heavyweight clash 567 days in the making

Fri, May 6, 2022, 12:12 AM
Declan Armstrong
by Declan Armstrong
Norths will face Sydney Uni for the first time since 17 October 2020. Photo: Karen Watson
Norths will face Sydney Uni for the first time since 17 October 2020. Photo: Karen Watson

Round Six of the Charter Hall Shute Shield sees our current top four face off, with Norths hosting the Students at North Sydney Oval for the John Thornett Cup and Manly welcoming the Woodies at home.

The former is a matchup Shute Shield fans have been waiting to enjoy again since 17 October 2020. On this occasion, Norths triumphed over the Students 24-22 in an epic preliminary final that would consequently mark the last matchup between the two club rugby juggernauts for 567 days.

Norths head coach, Zak Beer insists focus has not shifted despite the headline fixture.

“There’s no doubt we’ve been waiting to front up against Uni again since the preliminary final of 2020,” he said.

“I’m sure there’s hype surrounding the game given where our two sides are at and how long it’s been, but it’s about homing in internally throughout the lead-up.

“The clash makes headlines externally, but for me and my players the focus is purely on ourselves and delivering another Norths brand performance.”

Beer admits his team have not been at their best so far in 2022, but have displayed periods of dominance over the opening five rounds of the competition.

The high-flying Marlins defeated Norths last week to notch their fourth win of the season. Photo: Karen Watson
The high-flying Marlins defeated Norths last week to notch their fourth win of the season. Photo: Karen Watson

After three impressive victories to open their season, Norths have suffered consecutive defeats to Eastwood and Manly by a combined total of just 3-points.

Such a small losing margin is cause for optimism within the Norths camp, however, Beer believes his sides recent slump is the learning opportunity necessary throughout such a long season.

“I think all clubs at the start of the season would’ve hoped the road to a grand final would be a straight line, but the results within the Shute Shield over the past fortnight have shown that won’t be the case,” he said.

“We had opportunities to win in both our recent defeats and it’s about drawing out those positives.

“Last season we won a lot of our games by small margins, so these are situations we train for and certainly have experience in managing.”

Sydney Uni also enter Round Six off the back of a defeat, having suffered a historic loss to the Two Blues 27-19 last Saturday.

Historically, the Students respond well to defeat, with the 32-time premiers not having suffered back-to-back defeats since rounds 10 and 11 of the 2020 season.

Beer believes his sides opportunity this Saturday rests in their ability to be ruthless, a characteristic which he admits has escaped them over the past two rounds of the competition.

“We just weren’t ruthless enough in both our recent losses,” he said.

“Ruthlessness isn’t all about aggression, it’s about complete focus on the task rather than the situation of the game.

“At times we’ve taken our eye away from that ruthlessness, so this week the focus has been purely on us and bringing that intensity to every moment of the match.”

In the rounds other feature match, the high-flying Marlins welcome Eastwood to Manly Oval to continue the success story which is season 2022.

Manly have already doubled their win tally from last season, with the Marlins only managing victories against the Two Blues and Easts in what was a gruelling year for fans.

But their resurrection so far has been emphatic, knocking off Norths last weekend to stamp their name into the opening five rounds of the Shute Shield.

Don’t miss a second of the action Live, Ad-Free and On-Demand on Stan Sport.

Round Six Fixtures:

Eastern Suburbs v Warringah – Woollahra Oval 3:05pm

Randwick v Wildfires – Coogee Oval 3:05pm

West Harbour v Gordon – Drummoyne Oval 3:05pm

Manly v Eastwood – Manly Oval 3:05pm

Two Blues v Souths – Eric Tweedale Stadium 3:05pm

Norths v Sydney University – North Sydney Oval 4:05pm

Mental Health Round – May 6-8

NSW Rugby have teamed up with BATYR for the Rugby For Good initiative in support of Mental Health Round this weekend.

NSW Rugby referees will be wearing BATYR socks and proudly wear BATYR on their kit to help start the important conversation around mental health in our community.

Importantly, this initiative also allows us to consider the impact our behaviour has towards our referees and their mental health.

All funds raised will go directly into supporting our Start Talkin’, Get Talkin’, Keep Talkin’ Project that will impact the entire rugby community in NSW. This builds off the success of the Get Talkin’ Tours which NSW Rugby have been running with BATYR over the past three years.

NSW Rugby is aiming to raise $150,000 in 2022, with the aim of kick-starting a campaign that will improve the health and wellbeing of every rugby club across NSW.

To donate or find out more information, click the link here.


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