Sydney Shield Midseason Review
Wentworthville Magpies (1st)
The fact that Wentworthville Magpies sit in first position on the ladder is quite remarkable considering they have played one less game than each team in the top eight. They started their season off with a bang, winning three games in a row against Guildford, Blacktown and Peninsula. Their next two games were low points of their season so far, receiving a 30-point demolition by last-placed Western Suburbs after going down to Hills the week beforehand. Since then however, it has been all Wenty. They have not lost a match since the Western Suburbs defeat, and are currently on a six-game winning streak. With the best attack and the best defence in the league, it is little wonder why they occupy first position, and with a game in hand, it is their position to lose.
Predicted finish: 1st
Windsor Wolves (2nd)
Windsor owned first position on the ladder for the opening 12 rounds of the season before falling to second place in recent weeks. They leapt out of the blocks from round one this year by beating East Campbelltown 42-6, and proceeded to win their next three games against Guildford, Blacktown and Belrose. After a loss to Cabramatta, they won their next two encounters meaning they had six wins from their opening seven games. Their form has dropped since then in only notching up two wins from their past five matches. The Wolves have a favorable draw ahead of them without having to play a top-four side until round 23, meaning the coming weeks bring an opportunity to consolidate a top-four position heading into the Finals. They will also be motivated to regain first position on the ladder back from Wentworthville.
Predicted finish: 2nd
Hills District Bulls (3rd)
Hills District Bulls had an outstanding start to the season, before a frustrating run of form. In their first five matches, they won five games with their lowest score being 32. They went on to lose to competition-heavyweights Windsor in round six before crushing Belrose 38-6 the next match. They would not win another game until meeting Belrose again in round 14. In between those games, the Bulls recorded three losses and a draw but did enough at the beginning of the season to retain third position on the ladder. In terms of points scored and conceded, they sit in a decent position compared to other sides in the top four. The Bulls cannot afford to lose many more matches with seventh-placed Blacktown only two competition points behind. However, the Bulls' points differential of 100 could hurt them when battling for a top-four position at the back end of the season.
Predicted finish: 4th
Peninsula Seagulls (4th)
Peninsula sit in fourth position thanks to a strong points differential, while the two teams below them also sit on 16 competition points. A frustrating forfeit against last-placed Western Suburbs could come back to hurt the Seagulls, as a win would have elevated them to third position and given them a two-point buffer from the congested mid-table teams. A bye and two losses was not the ideal start to the season, but they managed to win seven from their next nine and charged into the top four. Those two losses at the start of the year were their only consecutive defeats, proving their on-field performances have been very consistent. A major goal for the Seagulls is to match it with the competition heavyweights coming into the back end of the season. They suffered a 26-22 defeat to Wentworthville as well as a 30-12 loss to Windsor. They are a team who has no problem scoring points, and can defensively match it with the stronger sides. If they continue their consistent performances they should make the top four.
Predicted finish: 3rd
East Campbelltown Eagles (5th)
East Campbelltown Eagles overcame a slow and inconsistent start to the year and are now knocking on the door of the top four. It was not until rounds nine and 10 that they put back-to-back wins together for the first time; partly due to weather interruptions and having a bye in round three. They went on to win five from six games that included a great 34-16 win over Hills District, giving them serious momentum heading into the back end of the 2015 season. There is a big challenge for the Eagles in the next month, having to play Wentworthville, Windsor and Hill District in the next three weeks which will certainly test their premiership credentials. It would be extremely handy for them to pick up a couple of wins on the tough road ahead, due to an extremely congested middle of the table.
Predicted finish: 6th
Mounties had a good start and end to the first half of 2015, with a poor middle period highlighting their season roller-coaster ride. They began the season with three victories, scoring an average of 44 points in those games. They then went on a four-match losing streak, with a bye and a week off in the middle of these losses, going without victory for a long time. In round nine they upset Windsor 42-30 before losing the next week to Auburn, and are now on a three match-winning streak. Mounties have experienced some tough losses, with three of them coming by a margin of two or less, showing they have the talent to match it with anyone in the competition. If they maintain consistency, they will definitely make the top eight and could even push for the top four.
Predicted finish: 5th
Blacktown Workers (7th)
Blacktown Workers hold a record of five games won, five games lost and a draw, marking consistency as their impending issue this season. Of their five wins, only the 52-8 thrashing of Guildford has had a margin of greater than eight points. In their five losses, they have conceded an average of 40 points, highlighting their need for consistent defensive effort. While they are in no immediate danger of dropping out of the top eight, they would like to obtain successive wins to consolidate a spot in the top eight. Workers have a mixed draw in the near future, with two of their next four games against top-six teams, with the other two games being against sides outside the eight. They will need to put a consistent performance in these next four games to set themselves up for the run home.
Predicted finish: 9th
Cabramatta Two Blues (8th)
Cabramatta had a promising start to the year, winning four of their first five games that included a 64-4 thrashing of Western Suburbs. However, they only managed to win one game, coming against Belrose. They have been a part of two 24-all draws, and had they managed to win these games they would sit one competition point away from third position. Their ladder position does not accurately reflect their season so far despite their current dry patch, which they are desperate to break out of. Cabramatta's defence is a large concren – they are the second worst defensive team in the competition and no team can go far in the finals while leaking points. On the other hand, they are equal second for points scored. If they can fix their defence, they will be a threat to any side.
Predicted finish: 7th
Auburn Warriors (9th)
It has been a tough year for Auburn, who sit in ninth position after two byes. They have only won three games; none of which came in consecutive weeks. On average, they concede 32 points per game, a statistic that needs to be improved if they are any chance of forcing their way into the top eight. Having already had two byes, the Warriors will have a longer stretch of games in the run home. Obviously ninth position is not where the Warriors want to stay, but they will need to overcome teams such as Blacktown, Peninsula and Windsor in coming weeks to have any chance of cracking a top eight position.
Predicted finish: 10th
Belrose Eagles (10th)
Belrose have been unlcuky with results so far to sit in tenth spot. While they have only won four games this season, seven of their eight losses came by a margin of 10 points or less. This shows the Eagles have been in all but one of their games without being able to close out contests. They are currently two wins from eighth position so now is the time to notch up consecutive wins and build some momentum heading into the back end of the season. Their points differential of -45 is also a disadvantage in terms of breaking into the eight, however it is far better than the teams surrounding them giving them a greater chance of earning a top eight placing.
Predicted finish: 8th
A terrible start to the season has set Guilford up with a disappointing position on the ladder. They lost their first four games to Wentworthville, Windsor, Auburn and Blacktown, with three of them coming in convincing fashion. Back-to-back wins against East Campbelltown and Cabramatta offered signs of promise, but they have only recorded one win since then. The 210 points to their name this season makes them the second worst attacking team, and they have a poor points differential of -124. Guildford will need to improve both their attacking and defensive structures if they are any chance of making the finals.
Predicted finish: 11th
Asquith Magpies (12th)
It was a difficult start to the year for Asquith, who didn't win their first game until round six. In four of their first five encounters, they were within eight or less points of winning the game, and that included a 26-all draw with last placed Western Suburbs. While Asquith has recorded three wins for the season, six of their seven losses have come by eight points or less. Asquith sit five competition points away from eighth position but with one more match in hand, they will give them an extra opportunity to gain two points- however it is against first-place Wentworthville.
Predicted finish: 12th
Western Suburbs Magpies (13th)
Western Suburbs have started the season slowly. Rounds four to six saw success for the Magpies, as they drew with Asquith 26-all, scraped past Mounties 17-16, and then destroyed competition-leaders Wentworthville 42-12 in the upset of the season. After that wonderful win, it has been a poor run of form. They went on to lose their next five games, and only won the sixth on forfeit. They have a poor points differential of -234, which is going to make it an extremely difficult task to make the finals even if they manage to string a few wins together at the back end of the season. They have a great opportunity to obtain competition points with their next three fixtures including a bye and two teams they have not lost to this season in Asquith and Mounties.
Predicted finish: 13th