Previews | Sydney Shield Rd 21

There are only four weeks remaining in the Sydney Shield season and there are still spots within the top eight up for grabs. The top four have almost certainly locked in their places with Wenty leading the way on 30 competition points.

Windsor are close behind in second place on 28 points, and along with Wenty still have a bye up their sleeve. Mounties are sitting in third place while Hills are in fourth. The remainder of the eight is made up by Peninsula, East Campbelltown, Guildford and Blacktown.

Blacktown will have to work hard if they want to stay in the eight. There are two other teams sitting on the same competition points as them and three others only one win away. Essentially there are six teams fighting for the one spot.

This week’s match of the round sees Mounties travelling to Crestwood Oval to take on Hills at 2pm on Sunday. Both teams are flying high and the victor will more than likely prove their top four credentials.

Mounties have had an extended break over recent weeks and coach, Glenn Antonelli, feels it won’t be doing them any favours.

“We’ve played one game in three weeks, which is probably going to hurt [our consistency],” Antonelli says.

Antonelli believes that stability in the halves has been a major influence on the team’s eight match winning streak, “in the last seven or eight weeks, we’ve had the same halves so it’s made a big difference.”

“Our halves, Brad Speechley and Brendan Newton, have been outstanding. Fullback Theo Leato and centre Louis Vaiouta have been impressive as well.

“Young Speechley also went down to Canberra earlier in the season to play in their Under-20s team and came back a different player.”

Mounties have a tough run into the finals and will take on ladder leaders, Wenty, next week but Mounties have been in this situation before.

“We had a hard run into the semis last year and managed to get into the Grand Final from sixth spot. The hard run home this time round will toughen us up a little bit.”

In other matches this week, Blacktown take on East Campbelltown, Peninsula face Cabramatta, Auburn clash with Asquith, Guildford will play Western Suburbs, Windsor challenge Belrose and Wenty have the bye.