There are few Shute Shield rivalries which generate as much anticipation and passion as Randwick against Eastern Suburbs – the Battle of the East.
This ageless clash is set to reignite this Saturday at Coogee Oval in Round Three of the Charter Hall Shute Shield.
The Galloping Greens are the competitions second most successful Club, boasting an impressive thirty-two Shute Shield titles since their induction in 1914. However, the Wicks last title came some 17 years ago in 2004, an uncharacteristically lean period for such a formidable Club.
Easts also find themselves without Shute Shield silverware for an extended period, with the last of their nine titles coming after a 16-12 defeat of Gordon in 1969.
With both Clubs eager to regain the status of Shute Shield superiority, this weekends Battle of the East holds not only great historical value but could be fundamental for both teams as they search for winning form in 2021.
Easts Club legend, Lawrie Fahy, knows all too well the significance that each side would place on a win over their great rivals.
“The rivalry between Easts and Randwick is as prevalent now as it was in my day,” he said.
“You always want to beat the best and you never want to lose, but a win this weekend would hold particular importance.”
Fahy has been involved at Eastern Suburbs since the early 1960’s as a player, coach and as Club President.
The East legend was also selected as First Grade Captain between 1972 and 1974, a period which was marked by classic encounters between the two great rivals.
“My early years featured many games where we were well and truly outclassed by our Eastern Suburbs opponents,” he said.
“I would regularly face off against my closest mates from school but come the weekend they were my fierce opponents.
“They were always incredibly tough matches.”
Both Randwick and Easts have seen mixed results so far this season. Following a strong victory in Round One against West Harbour, the Wicks were disappointing in a 29-12 defeat at the hands of Warringah last weekend.
Similarly, Easts held on for victory against Southern Districts in the competitions opening round, only to fall agonisingly short to Manly in a 24-22 thriller last Saturday at Woollahra Oval.
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Fahy, who addressed the Eastern Suburbs side in the lead up to the Round Three clash, believes the significance of the match will not be lost on both Clubs.
“I told the players to leave absolutely nothing out on the field come Saturday,” he said.
“As a player, you rise to these big occasions and that’ll be the same this weekend.
“Whoever comes away winners, there is great respect between Randwick and Easts and that has been a feature every single season that I have been involved.”
Randwick will host Eastern Suburbs at Coogee Oval this Saturday at 3pm.