What they said… Randwick v Eastern Suburbs

RANDWICK 23 (Mitch Short, Zac Carr tries; Bryan Croke 2 cons, 3 pens) defeated EASTERN SUBURBS 15 (Archie Hall, Ned Yeomans tries; Mack Mason con, pen) at Coogee Oval. HT 6-8

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Both Randwick and Eastern Suburbs went into their ANZAC Day derby clash struggling to find a winning formula. But it was the Wicks who got rid of the zero in their wins column, prevailing 23-15 in a hard-fought contest to claim bragging rights over their near neighbours for the second year in a row at Coogee Oval. Check out the in-depth match report here.

Behind the Ruck headed to the sheds for some post-match reaction from both camps…

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Hadley Jackson (Randwick head coach):

Shute Shield season launch

Photo: Stu Walmsley

“I think the first few rounds have been exactly the same. We’ve had the better of the first half and every week we’ve just taken it a little bit further, but today we took it to 80. The boys executed the plan well, they did a really good job and it paid dividends.

“We saw a couple of things just before half-time where we thought ‘If we stay in the fight here we’ll come out on top’. Our scrum got better as the game went on, Dan Matthew coming on was sensational and ‘Hass’ [Adam Freier] was great. ‘Hass’ has been fantastic all year and you can’t fault him, he’s still killing it.

“We would have liked one more without about 10 to go, and we just didn’t put the foot on the throat like we should have. We got down there a few times and we turned it over, and that’s a learning for a young group – in that situation, put your foot on the throat. We let it off a bit but we defended well enough to come out on top.

“The effort has been there every week, I can’t fault it at all. But looking back with the very new group that we’ve got, it just takes a little bit of time to gel them together. We’re nowhere near where we need to be but we just took another step today. The cohesion was a bit better and we toughed it out, and we got the result.

“We would have used nearly 15 Colts in the first four rounds I’d say, and we had another two make their starting debuts in 1st Grade today. Most of that 1sts Colts side from last year has had a taste of 1st Grade already this year. They’re young and they’re hungry and they’re winners – they’re used to winning. It does take a bit of time to get used to the difference between Colts and Grade, and it will continue to do so. But they’re used to winning and they train like winners and perform like winners, and that’s what we’re after.

“They know where we’re at and they know where we needed to improve. We don’t see it as rebuilding or struggling, we just need to keep improving every week. For us, each player needs to be a far better player in their position in 12 month’s time, and if we get that, we’ll get the team mix right and the work right and the results will take care of themselves.

“Whenever you’re not getting wins, you know that the first one is around the corner. Now we’ve taken it and those young boys have had their first win, we can get that off our backs and play some good footy. Next week we’ve got Norths back here and we can’t wait, we’re very much looking forward to that one.”

Pauli Taumoepeau (Eastern Suburbs head coach):

Shute Shield season launch

Photo: Stu Walmsley

“Today was just terrible. We were pretty poor at the breakdown, I thought our energy was low, and they really stepped up. They played really well. Every opposition we’ve had in the last three weeks has really stepped up and we just haven’t even met them. Anything fifty/fifty they won, and anything on the ground they won. In the second half we started trying to play a little bit too much footy in our half and were defending a lot in our half, and mentally it seemed like we were always chasing it, even when we were up 8-6. We’re not managing the game right, which isn’t good.

“With these local derbies, it doesn’t really matter if Randwick are 0 and 3 coming in. Before last year’s derby here we beat West Harbour then we pumped Gordon 52-0, and came here and lost. So we didn’t really talk about that because we knew that this was going to be a different day. Even myself when I was playing, I was involved in Easts teams where we didn’t have the players but we won, and did have the players but lost. Instead of talking about all the negatives that happened against the Rats and Manly, we tried to put a positive spin to the week about what we wanted to do. But we left it all in the warm-up.

“We didn’t think that anything was going to blow out in the first half, because in all three of their games, or definitely the last two, they’ve got off to a really strong start, so we spoke a lot about the first 20. Not so much absorbing it, we just wanted them to accept that it was going to happen and to try to push back.

“When we scored that try, everything seemed to be going to script, and at half-time we spoke about them coming back out at us in the second half because it was a derby. But they got those two back-to-back tries and it was just too much in the end. That’s when I thought we played some really bad footy, and too much footy in our own half. I don’t think we lost belief, we just got a little bit lost with what we were trying to do, which is dangerous.

“As messy as it sounds, we’re happy playing ad-hoc and we do a lot of transition training, and that’s what the disappointment is. Because of the breakdown pressure that they were giving us, we weren’t able to build pressure through our phases, but I still back us to pick up a footy and start to play and make sense of it. They just transitioned better than we did, which is disappointing. We had a couple of turnovers in the first half and we turned them over, instead of trying to build pressure.

“Our breakdown is terrible, it would go close to being the worst in the comp. The ball carrier is not doing his role, the cleanout guys are not doing their role and they’re slow to react. It should be an easy fix, so we’ll just keep working on it. It was disappointing because we spoke about it, we knew that Randwick were going to come hard at our breakdown because it had been so poor in the last two weeks, and even then, I don’t think they would have had to go too hard at it because we just gave it to them anyway.

“I think that the perception is that we got a bit carried away after beating Uni in round one, and I want to back my guys and say no we didn’t. We spoke about that in the sheds at Uni, we spoke about how important the reaction or the follow-on from that game was going to be. But I thought on the drive home that if we lose against the Rats, that’s what everyone’s going to say.

“Then we lost against Manly, and they were good, they’d lost the week before to Eastwood and Manly at Manly is tough. So we have back-to-back losses and then everyone says we’re on the come down. Then we get to a local derby where the opposition outplayed us and out-enthused us, and this rollercoaster chat will continue around ‘We think we’re better than what we are’ etc. But there’s no arrogant feel about this group, it just hasn’t clicked. Maybe there’s a fear of losing.

“I don’t think we need to change massively what we’re doing, it’s just the execution of a few things. I don’t think we’re now the worst team in the comp, I think we can still win the Shute Shield, and I think that’s why I’m so disappointed because I know what we can be. If this was a rebuilding year then I’d be a little bit happier. But I just know what we can be and what our goals are, and in the past three weeks we haven’t aimed up to that. But I’m not going to go around making mass changes to personnel or mass changes to our attack, we just need to stay persistent with it, continue to stay humble, and keep working.

“I think with coaching you always look at the first five games. We won four of our first five last year, then lost three in the middle but still ended up in the play-offs because we weren’t chasing. Being one and three right now, we’re just starting to get into that danger zone, and we don’t want to get to round six and say ‘We’ve got to win 10 in a row now’. I think we understand that as a group and hopefully, that will help us focus a little bit more.”

David Vea (Randwick captain):

Shute Shield season launch

Photo: Stu Walmsley

“We were none from three going into today, but every game against Easts form goes out the window and everyone at Randwick gets up for it, and every single bloke that comes here wants to be a part of it. So I don’t think we really thought about the last few weeks, we just wanted to enjoy today and the occasion on ANZAC Day, and have a good crack and play some good footy.

“Last week we played a 40 minute game and did plenty of good things, but didn’t quite finish it off in the second half, and that was our focus. Nothing changed from the last three weeks in terms of prep, we just haven’t executed a lot of stuff that we’ve been training. So we looked to come in and build on last week’s performance and put it out across two halves, and I thought we did that.

“We knew that we had to front up, especially in the forward pack, and we knew that they had a running 9 that was a threat to us, and he got out a bit around the ruck and the tight edges. It kind of turned against us towards the middle of that first half, but we knew that if we held in there and weathered that – because it’s been a weakness in our game so far – that we’d go well, and we did. We turned it back around and I think that was the catalyst for the rest of our performance, which was making sure we didn’t leak any points just before and after half-time.

“We know what Mack Mason is capable of, and we know what we’re capable of. We don’t play well without the ball, and our game plan, as it was for the last few weeks, was to hold onto it for longer. We’re a lot better with the ball and we put a lot more pressure on teams when we do have it, and you saw that today. We had the higher percentage of possession and we’re really happy with that because it nullified their game plan. If Mason had got control of the game it would have been trouble for us, but we held onto the ball and tried to get through some phases, and put pressure on them in that way.

“I think what took us through the last three weeks is that we believed in each other, and we stayed tight even thought there were tough losses to some very worthy opponents. Obviously Eastwood in the first round and then West Harbour was a tough loss for us, and Souths cleaned us up in the second half last week. But it takes a few rounds for a newly put together team and a new coach to click. Today was evidence that some things are clicking but we still have plenty of areas to improve on, and that’s what’s exciting for us. It’s a good step in the right direction, but we’re excited about what we can build on from today.

“Our theme is around continual improvement, so we won’t ever be happy with the performance on the weekend because there will always be something that we can improve. It’s a good win this week, and we enjoy that, but we go back and we review hard and look at where we can get better. The combinations are starting to build, and our defence worked really well and we forced a lot of turnovers, and it was a big step up from the last three weeks. But we can’t take our foot off now, we’ve got to build on that and make sure we don’t go backwards.

“This will give us a big confidence boost going into next week against Norths, and we look forward to it. We want to play against the best teams in the comp and test ourselves, because you’ve got to beat them if you want to go through and play finals footy at the back end of the season.”

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