PREVIEWS | Sydney Shield Finals Week 2

Feathers will fly this weekend at St Marys Leagues Stadium, with the Belrose Eagles taking on the East Campbelltown Eagles first and the Peninsula Seagulls facing the Wentworthville Magpies afterwards. After two upsets featured in the opening week of Sydney Shield finals, the form guide goes out the window in determining who will take on St Marys and Mounties in the Preliminary Finals.

Belrose Eagles (4th) v East Campbelltown Eagles (5th)
St Marys Leagues Stadium, Sunday 11 September
10am

Click here to view full Belrose v East Campbelltown team lists and officials

Previous meetings: Belrose 29 def East Campbelltown 22 (Round 1); East Campbelltown 34 def Belrose 22 (Rescheduled Round 14)

The East Campbelltown juggernaut rolled on last weekend with a 38-26 win over Cabramatta at Campbelltown Stadium, extending their winning run to 12 wins from their last 13 games. They face a bigger challenge on Sunday, however, against the side that finished one position – but five competition points – higher than them this year.

The Eagle Rock clash at St Marys is an intriguing one, with the sides going tit-for-tat in their two encounters earlier this year. Belrose sent warning signs to the rest of the competition in the first half last week, leading 30-12 against Minor Premiers Mounties, but were denied a significant upset thanks to 26 unanswered points in the second stanza. That performance will have to dent the Belrose’ players confidence somewhat, but they need to put that behind them and focus on the task at hand.

East Campbelltown, who are a better attacking outfit thanks largely to centre Ben Baker, will have to take on the third best defensive side in the competition. Belrose have an attacking weapon of their own in fullback Christian Bate and should not be taken lightly when they’re in possession. While Belrose must be slight favourites, the recent form of East Campbelltown is hard to ignore and it will be a hard-fought contest for the right to meet St Marys in the Preliminary Final.

Peninsula Seagulls (2nd) v Wentworthville Magpies (7th)
St Marys Leagues Stadium, Sunday 11 September
12pm

Click here to view full Peninsula v Wentworthville team lists and officials

Previous meetings: Peninsula 44 def Wentworthville 24 (Round 5); Peninsula 52 def Wentworthville 16 (Round 20)

A significant upset saw the Seagulls lose out to St Marys in the Qualifying Final last week, with an early 12-0 lead surrendered to eventually lose 38-22. After ending their 10-week winning streak with a forfeit in Round 24, Peninsula should have been refreshed leading into the finals, but instead stumbled at the first hurdle. It’s not the end of the road for the Seagulls, of course, and they face the Magpies who notched up 46 points against Guildford on Sunday.

At first glance, this is almost as big of a mismatch as could be expected in Week 2 of a finals series. The 2nd-placed Seagulls have won a whopping five more games than the 7th-placed Magpies – including last week’s results – and while Peninsula have now scored 4 less points than their opponents, they have conceded almost 250 fewer in 2016. The Seagulls have proved beyond doubt what they can do this year, but on Sunday it all counts for nothing on what will be a level playing field. Neither side will benefit from focusing on the past, but Wentworthville in particular will know that they need to be on their game to book a meeting with Mounties in the Grand Final Qualifier.

Jake Pickering, the fullback who scored first against St Marys last week, has been one of the form players of the competition all season and is one individual who can heavily influence the result. Should he provide the impact that he has at times this year, the Seagulls should be successful in seeing off the Magpies.