Northern Suburbs coach Scott Fava believes his side can clinch their first Shute Shield victory of the season if they can just push through the 60-minute mark of the game, rather than “drop our bundle” as they have done in the past.
In this week’s third round of the Sydney club rugby competition, Northern Suburbs and Southern Districts, who like Norths have two losses from two games, meet at North Sydney Oval.
Both sides have shown they can score points, but they have surrendered them too.
Ex Wallaby Scott Fava, pictured in 2006. Photo: Getty Images
Norths, placed eighth on the Shute Shield ladder, go into Saturday’s game with losses to Eastwood (34-23) in round one and Randwick (29-25) in round two.
Souths, pegged 10th after two games, have suffered round one and two defeats to Manly (28-43) and Warringah (18-36).
Asked if he was happy that Norths still took a bonus point for losing to Randwick by seven points or less last Saturday, Fava said: “We did drop our bundle. That’s the hard thing about last week.
“Both weeks, we went into the 60-minute mark in the lead, and for various reasons we are losing that lead and all of a sudden the pressure is coming back on us.”
Fava is far from desperate about Norths' win-loss ratio this early in the season, and believes time will help develop solid combinations inside a largely new look first-grade squad after several off-season departures.
But he is looking for his players to start showing they can play the whole 80 minutes.
“We are a young team. We have young drivers in certain positions that are still trying to build combinations together,” Fava said.
“We lost 15 out of our 30 [players] from last year for various reasons and we have had to replenish from our Colts coming through.
“We have put in place at Norths a generation from underneath and loyalty from the players that want to play in the red and black.
“But while the culture of the group is good, it is just about finding that opportunity to grab the win by getting through the 60-minute mark.”
Fava said key players for Norths to arrest in Southern Districts, who made the finals last year, will be No.6 Sam Latunipulu – who comes in for Luke Smart – and their halves combination of Dewet Roos at No.9 and Rohan Saifoloi at No.10.
“Their pack is pretty similar to last year, but they have bolstered it with Sam Latunipulu who brings another dimension to their back row,” he said.
“Their halves have done an excellent job over last couple of years. No doubt they will do it again and will be responsible for how they play.”
Fava believes his charges can lift their game, but expects leading performances from No.6 Ben Matwijow, No.8 Michael Wells and No.13. Jac Cameron.
In other round three games on Saturday, Gordon play Randwick at Chatswood Oval, Manly take on Eastern Suburbs at Manly Oval, Penrith host Eastwood at Nepean Rugby Park, West Harbour play Sydney University at Concord Oval (all 3pm kick-offs) and Warringah face Parramatta at Pittwater Rugby Park at 6.15pm.