Previews | Sydney Shield Rd 19
As the Sydney Shield moves into the final chapter of the season, the ladder is starting to take shape. Wentworthville are still leading the competition despite last week’s massive upset loss against Asquith.
The middle of the table is extremely congested with seventh through to 11th separated by only two points. The battle for the top eight is going to be fierce and is equally matched by the teams fighting out for the vital top four spots.
This week’s match of the round is between the 2014 premiers East Campbelltown Eagles and the 2014 minor premiers Peninsula Seagulls, at Waminda Oval this Sunday at 2:30pm. These two teams are both in the hunt for one of the second chance spots in the top four and victory this weekend will go a long way to securing that.
East Campbelltown’s coach Richard Barnes has high hopes for his team to go back to back in 2015 despite their lack of consistency to date. “It’s been an up-and-down season so far. We’ve been there or thereabouts,” Barnes said.
“We always look forward to battling the top teams. Unfortunately they (Peninsula) only just beat us last time at their home ground. Hopefully we turn things around this week and get one back on them."
Ben Baker has been a revelation in the Sydney Shield competition this year and currently tops both the top tryscorer and top pointscorer lists. Baker is definitely a player who will be the key for East Campbelltown making amends following their round-four loss.
Barnes has nothing but praise for Baker’s form and attitude this season, “Ben has risen to the higher standards and demands of training and matches compared to his previous experience. He’s currently the fittest he’s ever been, and has shown that off and on the field. He’s been able to do a lot more freakish stuff more often. He’s got the speed and the ability to get on the outside of defenders and find the try line.”
Many teams have lifted their game this season when playing the Eagles. This, combined with the fact only five players remain from last year’s victorious team, has made it very difficult for them to find form.
“Beating Peninsula should put us in the top four, and if we can get there it’ll just be about maintaining our consistency to stay there,” Barnes said.
In this week’s other matches Blacktown host Mounties, Windsor encounter Auburn, Wentworthville challenge Guildford, Asquith face Belrose and Cabramatta battle Western Suburbs, while Hills District have the bye.