Eastwood’s bounced back into the winner’s circle with a nail-biting 29-22 victory over Northern Suburbs on Saturday afternoon.
Two tries in the second half to hooker Hugh Roach and one to skipper Michael Snowden sparked Woodies’ comeback victory at the Cowra Rugby Grounds after trailing 17-3 at the break. A yellow card to Snowden in the closing stages created a tense finish but Norths were unable to gain an advantage.
Coach John Manenti was pleased with the gutsy effort particularly during the final 10 minutes with 14 men.
“We fought hard for that 10 minutes. We showed some good smarts and good ticker to hang in there. Credit to Norths we put on a good show for the people of Cowra,” Manenti said.
Norths dominated the opening half with skipper and five-eight Angus Sinclair dictating play.
Lochie Creagh opened the scoring for Norths in the 5th minute with a runaway try under the posts for Sinclair to easily add the extras. Five minutes late, Sinclair’s boot extended Norths’ lead to 10-0 courtesy of a penalty.
Eastwood opted for three points to open their account in the 15th minute with Jackson Bird slotting a penalty goal from 30m out.
Sinclair was quick to hit back with a try of his own and his successful conversion gave Norths a 17-3 advantage.
With only minutes left in the first half, Woodies created space on the right edge for Zac Mackay to go in untouched and reducing the margin to 17-10 at the break.
Eastwood continued to build momentum in the early stages of the second half despite conceding Creagh’s second try just moments after the restart.
Staring at a 22-10 deficit, hooker Hugh Roach provided the spark Woodies’ needed crossing for two tries in the 50th and 60th minutes either side of Snowden’s five pointer in the 55th minute.
Two conversions by Bird helped Woodies to a 29-22 lead with a quarter of the match still to play.
Norths created plenty of opportunities but were unable to capitalise and make the pressure pay. They were ultimately starved of possession by a 14-man Eastwood side that held on for thrilling seven-point win in round 12 of the Intrust Super Shute Shield – the first ever Shute Shield match to be played at Cowra.
Sinclair blamed too many errors for Norths’ loss.
“They took their chances, we didn’t. It’s been a bit hard with a couple of byes and couple of losses lately we’ve lost the momentum we had. We’re slacking off in patches,” he said.
“We focus now on gaining some momentum into the finals.”
Woodies’ coach John Manenti was disappointed with his side’s first half but identified a crucial 10 minute period after the break where Woodies bagged three tries.
“We built momentum in that 10 minutes or 15 minutes after halftime when we banged a couple of tries together,” he said.
“Our errors led to their first 17 points. You give a great team like Norths a 17-3 start you’re up against it. We fought hard and got into some rhythm.”
The result leaves Eastwood and Norths on eight wins from 12 games.
“It’s such a close competition. We can’t get too far ahead of us, we’re just planning on enjoying the country hospitality tonight then getting back to Sydney and starting again on Monday,” Manenti said.
Sinclair added his delight of playing at Cowra.
“We’re so stoked to be here, it would have been nice to win but it’s great for the community,” he said.
Eastwood 29 (Hugh Roach 2, Zac Mackay, Michael Snowden tries; Jackson Bird three conversions, one penalty goal) bt Northern Suburbs (Lochie Creagh 2, Angus Sinclair, Sinclair two conversions, one penalty goal).
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