Shute Shield 2021: Hot Shots & Pie-Baggers – Post-round Three

Photos: AJF Photography, Serge Gonzalez & Clay Cross / SPORTSPICS

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It’s back! Your semi-regular focus on those players lighting up the Charter Hall Shute Shield competition through their try-scoring prowess or accuracy off the kicking tee. Can Southern Districts’ Christian Kagiassis claim a hat-trick of Roscoe Fay Trophies as the leading points-scorer after finishing top of the list in 2017 and 2020? And how will last year’s try-machine James Turner fare in the colours of his new club Northern Suburbs?

The opening rounds of the new campaign have already indicated that it’s going to be a battle royale for those top six spots, with a bevy of teams illustrating their title credentials. But who has been lighting it up in the individual points and try-scoring stakes?

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Round one saw the season kick-off with a points bonanza, with 419 racked up at an average of just under 70 per game across the six contests. Gordon’s shock 78-10 dismantling of Manly at the Village Green understandably came with plenty of stellar individual contributions, with Reece MacDonald’s shift from grand final fullback to flyhalf not missing a beat with a 16pt haul. Backing him up were Jacob Abel and Ben Pollack, who both crossed the chalk three times, and there was another hat-trick from Norths flanker Charlie Jeavons-Fellows as the Shoremen opened their account with aplomb in a 73-0 dispatching of Penrith. Red and Black stalwart Angus Sinclair weighed in with 14pts in the same game, while dynamic centre Nathan Russell carried on where he left off in 2020 with a brace of tries.

Reece MacDonald_Gordon v Manly_2021_AQ

Reece MacDonald has assumed the kicking tee for the Highlanders – Photo: Andrew Quinn

Elsewhere, Sydney University began life under the tutelage of returning head coach Robert Taylor with a 56-24 win over Hunter Wildfires. Ben Hughes slotted 14pts off the boot, and he was ably supported by doubles from Declan Moore and Eddie Poolman, with William Lewesi finding the line twice for the visitors. Last season’s runners-up Eastwood got off to a flier with a 59-14 triumph at TG Millner over the Western Sydney Two Blues, with another fullback-cum-flyhalf in Chris Bell taking over the no.10 jersey and kicking duties from Waratahs recruit Tane Edmed, and tallying 14pts. Livewire loose forward Michael Icely made a welcome return from injury with two tries, and there were further doubles down at Drummoyne Oval, where former Hurricanes prop Chris Eves and winger Christian Yassmin helped Randwick to a 52-17 victory over West Harbour.

Points were at more of a premium a week later, with round two yielding just 293pts as defences blew away the off-season cobwebs and new combinations began to gel. Uni’s Ben Hughes was the standout, his 17pts helping the Students rack up another half century in a 57-15 win over West Harbour. But it was the hat-trick exploits of Declan Moore that were a highlight, the hooker having returned to club land from a stint with the Melbourne Rebels and looking all the better for his taste of professional rugby as he tallied five tries in just two games. Consistently impressive fullback Tim Clements also claimed a double.

It would have been a week from hell for Manly following the nadir of that heavy Gordon defeat. But the proud Marlins stood up to be counted and then some as they rebounded to take down Premiership favourites Eastern Suburbs at Woollahra Oval, with Harley Attwater the hero with 14pts – including the match-winning conversion from out wide after the siren. Chris Bell was in his pomp under the power lines with another 13pts for 14-man Eastwood as they held out Southern Districts 28-25 at Forshaw Park, with that man Michael Icely on song again with another double. That feat was matched by tearaway hooker James Margan for Norths as they returned from Newcastle with a 23-3 win over Hunter Wildfires, while Premiers Gordon put 50pts on the Western Sydney Two Blues thanks to a trio of braces from Alesana Pohla, Mike Pavlakis and Milan Basson.

Charlie Jeavons-Fellows_Norths v Hunter_2021_CC

Charlie Jeavons-Fellows has been in try-scoring form for Northern Suburbs – Photo: Clay Cross / SPORTSPICS

Round three saw Declan Moore continue his incredible try-scoring exploits, with another double to cement his place at the top of the pie-bagging charts as Uni downed Eastwood 49-44 after the bell, in a cracker of a contest played out in picturesque Mudgee. Connor O’Shea came off the bench early on to slot five conversions and reach double figures, while Lachlan Shelley made it three tries for the season with two in defeat for the Woodies. After a couple of fairly quiet weeks by his standards, Christian Kagiassis was back in fine fettle last weekend. The two-time leading points-scorer bagged 16pts as Souths got off the mark with a 31-25 win over Warringah, with utility front-rower Andrew Tuala finding the chalk twice in the same game.

Meanwhile, former Rebel Rohan Saifoloi showcased why he was such a good pick-up for Easts having returned to the Shute Shield from Brisbane, with a 13pt haul to help the Beasties maintain bragging rights in the derby after a 31-22 win over Randwick at Coogee. Also enjoying a victory over their local rivals were Norths, who returned to North Sydney Oval in style with a 33-17 triumph over Gordon thanks to 13pts from the influential Angus Sinclair and a brace from Reece Mau’u. This was only the Highlanders’ second defeat in 17 competition matches – but both coming at the hands of their north shore nemesis.

All of which leaves Eastwood’s Chris Bell out in front in the race for the Roscoe Fay Trophy, with Declan Moore lying second by dint of tries alone, and Ben Hughes and Angus Sinclair kicking their way into joint-third.

2021 Hot ShotsMoore is in pole position on the try-scoring front, as he looks to become the first forward to top the try-scoring lists since Harry Bergelin found the line an incredible 22 times for Manly back in 2014. Behind him is Norths’ Charlie Jeavons-Fellows, with a bevy of players sitting joint-third and fourth respectively. There’s a long, long way to go, but already plenty of evidence to suggest it will be an enthralling run to the finish to see who ends up on top of either list. Bring it on!2021 Pie Baggers

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