Instrust Super Shute Shield Grand Final Preview (+ Semi Finals Review) - Green and Gold Rugby
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Instrust Super Shute Shield Grand Final Preview (+ Semi Finals Review)

Instrust Super Shute Shield Grand Final Preview (+ Semi Finals Review)

It’s the biggest day in NSW club rugby: the Intrust Super Shute Shield grand final! So it’s time for us to crack open and talk about our preview, while also taking the time to review the action from the Semi-Final weekend. 

Semi-Finals Review


The servings up that these two fierce rivals have delivered this year have been some of the best matches of the Shute Shield! And what’s also been great has been the crowds. There was something close to 12,000 that packed into Rat Park for this decider. If you want an indication that club rugby is coming back, that was actually better than many of the attendances at several of the NRL games around Sydney.

The buildup delivered in what was a great encounter between the sides. The hero of this match undoubtedly was Josh Holmes for the Rats. I first personally noticed him back in 2015 as the plucky halfback who stood out in the North Harbour Rays outfit in the NRC. Many had wondered why he didn’t pick up a Super Rugby contract. After this performance, which has shown he has really come into his own as a mature player who can direct the traffic brilliantly, he better feature in the Sydney Rays side this year!

But he was backed up by a solid Warringah team. They played out their skins for this one, and in the end, they were deserved winners. They went into halftime with a five point lead, but with all the momentum, which was something the Marlins struggled with for most the day. The visitors whowed some fight in the second half with a great try to James Hilterbrand, but when the Rats were awarded a penalty try for repeated Marlin infringements in the scrum, it was becoming clear that it was not going to be Manly’s afternoon.

Adrian Hall stood out as skipper for the Marlins in what was a disappointing end to their season. After finishing as minor premiers, lacklustre form in the weeks leading up to the finals series proved influential in a disappointing finals campaign. It’s a tough game footy, but in the end the Rats wanted it more. And the crowd rushing the fence at games end showed it.

Check out some more detailed highlights below, courtesy of the lads at 7Two.


The crowd was just as enthusiastic at the second semi-final on Sunday, and it turned into a shoot out between the Shoreman and the Woodies. The Woodies put up a hell of a fight, coming back from a solid start by the Shoreman who ran in plenty of early tries, including a double to Richard Woolf. It was the Eastwood forwards who grabbed a meat pie before going into the sheds, and it proved to be a pivotal moment in the game, with momentum shifting back in favour of the Woodies after halftime.

The Woodies scored a couple of stunning tries to be back within striking distance, however a beautifully weighted kick saw Norths grab another try to Lachlan Creagh (his second for the afternoon), which proved to be the difference the end. The Woodies kept fighting, and got back to within ten of the Shoreman, but in the end they simply ran out of time.

If there is any hero of the game, it is North’s entire backline. They had a stunner of a match, and their two wingers are the best finishers in the competition at the moment. Their attack won them that game. They didn’t make it easy for themselves going into the finals series, but the Shoreman have well and truly earnt their spot and what is effectively a home grand final. Full credit to them.

The Woodies meanwhile were far from disgraced, and really exposed the defence of Norths. Their inconsistent form going into the finals, unlike for Manly, didn’t see they wilter and fall away. In fact, it galvanised them. While they fell one short of the big dance, few from Eastwood wouldn’t deny that this was a really encouraging season for the club. Head’s up boys, you played well.

Check out some more detailed highlights below, courtesy of the lads at 7Two.

And then, there were two.



Yep, we’ve come to the big dance. And what a road it has been. Here’s a good pump up video from the lads at 7Two, (not that you really need anymore of a pump-up).

Starting with the “hosts”, the Rats have been arguably the most consistent of the two sides. Yes, they dropped a couple of matches, but what I’ve consistently been impressed with is the attitude of this team. They will NOT lie down. They will keep going. And it has been seen by the fact that even in the games they dropped, they always made the winning team work for it. That’s the kind of attitude that wins premierships.

The club has endured so much. From the highs of last weekend just gone to the tragic loss of Lachie Ward, it has been a wild ride for the Warringah side. How fitting that it ends up at the Grand Final. It is their first grand final since 2005, which they won against Sydney University.

There are two big weapons that the Rats have, the first being their potent forward pack. They made mince meat of Manly last week, and while they will be coming up against a solid forward pack in Norths, there should be no underestimating the Rats big men. The second big weapon is, as mentioned earlier, their halfback Josh Holmes. His ability to galvanise the backs has been a thing of beauty all season, and his efforts proved to be the catalyst for so much momentum shifting in favour of the Rats.

Image Credit - Rising Sun Photography

Image Credit – Rising Sun Photography

Let’s be frank: the Rats have a good team. A really good team. So do Norths.

This team didn’t break their drought last year for nothing. Their coach Simon Cron has instilled a real belief and drive in this side, and the finals series shows that this team is close to full strength to the side that won it last year. They’re playing at their home. They have form on their side. This is going to be a tough obstacle.

The biggest strength is the backline of Norths. They are so good. Richard Woolf, Cam Clark, Lachlan Creagh. And that’s just the guys who have scored the tries. This is one of the most dangerous backlines we’ve seen in the competition for many years now, and they will be pumped on Saturday. Their forwards as well should not be underestimated. It takes a lot to knock over the Eastwood forward pack, but this Norths side did just that.

Defence may prove to be the deciding factor, but the attacking style of both the teams looks like we will be seeing an up-tempo shoot out. Expect plenty of tries.

Image Credit - AJF Photography

Image Credit – AJF Photography

On a notable side note too, this match will also be keenly watched by  Julian Huxley, the new coach of the Sydney Rays. Both the Rats and the Shoreman are feeder clubs to the NRC side alongside Manly and Gordon, and there was no denying Norths success at the Grand Final last year was a catalyst for an improved season from the Rays in the NRC. We may looking at not just two great sides, but also the makings of a squad that can win the NRC Toast Rack.

Prediction: Both sides have a great forward pack. Both sides have a great backline. Both sides are battle hardened and drilled. Both sides will have a passionate support base backing them up at North Sydney Oval. Bugger me, this is a hard one to pick. My heart says the Rats because of what a emotional year it’s been for them, but I think the home ground advantage and a backline this dangerous will be too much to ignore. Northern Suburbs by 1. 

I’ll be there at the game come Saturday. Make sure you come along for a tinny and we’ll show why we’re #makingclubrugbygreatagain.

  • onlinesideline

    awesome stuff – why have the ARU not been dong this kind of stuff for the last however long ? Their rugby site is appalling and the slowest to break news. ( and slow to load too)

    Just look at these crowds, beer on the hill, day matches, steak grills – BS this is a dying code. Its just been run by dinasours. The ARU remind me of people in Australia who have made money from mining and stocks and then try to play VC in the startup game. The just dont get it. They are back in analogue world. Their digital presence is absolutely pathetic.

    With the 10 and 10s of millions of dollars they spend on absolute rubbish every year ( I actually shudder to think) why cant they have a couple of camera men at each game in the club rugby matches around the nation for half a day once a week for 15 lousy weeks in winter, then uploading to youtube to build a huge subscribed base of fans.

    Or as the Honey Badger said, “they are like the kid that fell out of the tree – JUST NOT IN IT”

    Why did Alan Jones recommend the CEO of Comm Bank for new ARU CEO. This is precisely who we dont need, another corporate who says he loves rugby. We need a real grassroots involved rugby bloke, preferrably from Western Australia or ACT this time. How about that bloke that resigned from ARU from WA – hes played 900 club games and hes a good bloke. Put him back in. Not someone from the inner Sydney clique thats afraid to fire people.

    • PJ

      Well said mate, club Rugby is thriving and it’s bloody great to see! The Qld Grand Final had over 10,000 at Ballymore last weekend.

      The hacks at Newscorp continue to focus on how far rugby has fallen in this country, yet an essentially amateur game last week Rats v Marlins attracted over 11,000 spectators last weekend. The South Sydney league match on the same weekend attracted under 7,000 fans! I didn’t hear any of this spoken about in the press.

      In my opinion Rugby at a grassroots level is alive and kicking, whilst we are having trouble at the professional level, what will hold us in good stead is club land. We will push through the issue at the professional level due to our strong club scene. It might take a few years but we will grow again.

      Good luck to all the teams playing tomorrow and good luck to our Wallabies!

      • onlinesideline

        A good product that is thoroughly enjoyed by all without cheesy fire explosions, stupid music and oversized cavernous and cold football stadiums will always win in the end mate.

      • Pearcewreck

        Good to see strong crowds at Brissy final PJ.
        But my question is, was there any coverage of it here on GAGR?
        I didn’t see any write ups about it.
        Or didn’t it all get missed due to the Bledisloe disaster?

        • PJ

          To be honest with you i cant remember seeing anything on it. I might be wrong. The way i look at things is the Rugby is like a tall building, we need to have a strong foundation in order for the upper levels to be sturdy and secure. Club rugby across the country is our foundation and a bloody sturdy one at that. We just need someone with some vision and scope to take what we already have and apply it to the professional side of the game.

    • Pearcewreck

      Great comment olsl.
      Love your work.

      • onlinesideline

        thanks mate

        • Pearcewreck

          And you are right, rugby isn’t dying.
          Just high profile parts are dying, but lots of clubs across the country are going OK.

    • Johnno

      Peter Fitzsimons lol

  • Pearcewreck

    I’ll be watching it on the Telly on Satdee arvo.

  • Johnno

    Gonna be a great game. North sydney ovals holds 20,000 I reckon they will at least get 15,000. But more like 18,000 I predict, if it’s sold out it would be an awesome bonus. But even 75% full(15k) is a massive turnout and show of support for community rugby.. In a way the shute GF feels like the old rugby league days in the NSWRL eg Raiders vs Balamin 89 GF or a Eeels vs Dogs 86 GF. Yes Raiders were not sydney team, but it was a NSW or sydney comp(NSWRL running show not NRL). And up in Brisbane had the old BRL.. But yep, it really has a tribal feel. The shute shield has bounced back really well, and they have “Intrust” sponsoring them for another 3-year deal signed last week. Weather is good in Sydney on Saturday it’s gonna be an awesome day at North sydney Oval..

    • PJ

      Fingers crossed for a cracking Sydney day and a massive crowd!

  • juswal

    Nick called it: the Rats have an edge in the forwards and Norths have one in the backs.

    This grand final is sure to cap off a great year for the Shute Shield. Norths’ 2016 title let the light into the comp and all the clubs have benefited from renewed support.

  • Geoffrey Pritchard

    There’s more interest in Schute Shield than the current Test series…..Do the ARU know the product they are trying to administer…No they dont!
    NRC who cares! National Club competition under the Schute Shield Model, passion for the Jumper built up over the last 100 years…Looking forward to Tomorrows game. Well done all clubs well done channel 7 2.

    • Nick

      I’ve got to say I’m more looking forward to the 3:10pm match than the 5:30pm match.

  • Xaviera

    Should be a cracking match and I’m rooting for the Shoremen to go back to back – here’s hoping.

    Josh Holmes and Super Rugby. He had stints at both the Tahs and Brumbies, and while showing on field promise, was one of those players who both franchises “let go”. There is something in that.

    As to Rat Park last weekend, yes, it was a good atmosphere, but still plenty of space. Some of the numbers thrown around for the crowd size are bordering on Super League maths – highly inflationary. Similarly, NSO at capacity can take about 11K, 12K tops and given OH&S issues these days, I can’t see them jamming any more in. They’re already talking about a sell-out, and excluding rights holders if they don’t turn up early enough. Could be some angst at the NSO gates tomorrow.

  • Nick

    I’m a Manly fan but my backup teams are Norths and Warringah so I’m having a tough time here. I’ve got to go for the Rats though. Would be excellent to see them win and they’ve had a spectacular year across a number of grades.

    Good comment on the Rays. I think with such strong performances from Manly, Warringah and Norths they will be a very competitive outfit in the NRC.

    I know you mentioned Warringah won in 2005 but was that when they split the season in two with Warringah winning the Shute Shield (preseason comp.) and Uni winning the Tooheys New Cup (regular season comp.)? I think this may be Warringah’s first official first grade premiership if they win.

Club Rugby

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician, second rower. Still trying to make sense of the 21st century. Dropped a debut novel last year...

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