By Andy Mulhall, Date: 17/10/12
Lokomotiva Beroun have clinched the 2012 Czech Rugby League 1st Division Championship with a game still in hand. Undefeated in 2012, Beroun are now on track to win all 3 of the available CZRLA 2012 titles, having won the pre-season 9s, having now secured the Championship, and with the Grand Final to be played on November 10.
As Minor Premiers, Lokomotiva Beroun will host the Grand Final, which is sure to be against Prague Vikings. These 2 clubs meet in the final round of the CZRLA Championship this weekend, the Vikings hosting. With 2 losses already this season however, even victory on Saturday will not be enough for Prague to overtake Beroun. Regardless of the result, the Vikings will still be the second team into the Grand Final, as Pardubice and Vrchlabi have only 1 win apiece in the 2012 Championship and will effectively now play-off for 3rd place in their final round game.
Lokomotiva Beroun secured the 1st Division Championship with a thumping 96-4 try-fest against Pardubice on a neutral ground in central Prague, on the same day that the latter town hosted itâ€™s most celebrated sporting event of the year â€“ the Pardubice Steeplechase. The win went close to eclipsing the record winning margin also set by Beroun, a 98-0 victory against the previous Prague club incarnation, the Barbarians, in 2011. For the Jets, who won both the CZRLA Championship and the Grand Final (against Beroun) in 2011, the momentousness of the loss is an indication of how much of a gulf has emerged, both in skill and diligence, between these 2 traditional rivals who were the first established Czech rugby league clubs.
For Pardubice, club stalwarts Vit Rejda and Roman Nedomlel put in determined efforts despite the scoreline, while Jiri Pecina was a standout with some thunderous 1-on-1 tackles. Those 3 though, were largely let down by the absence of several of their 2011 Championship winning teammates, and a lack of experience and commitment by those who have replaced them. For Beroun, Jan Buben was the orchestrator of much of their attack, Jiri Sluka and Michal Hora continually took their team forward, and Martin Cernohorsky and Dalibor Smotek capitalised on this momentum, the latter setting a CZRLA record with 6 tries.
In the other match of the round, Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels, notched their first win of the season with a gritty effort at home against the Prague Vikings. Running out 30-16 winners, the game was an exciting encounter with some classy attack from both teams and some outstanding defence which thrilled the partisan home crowd. David Lahr led from the front for the Mad Squirrels, while Martin Kulhanek was the scorer of one of the tries of the season with a chip-and-regather effort which solidified the win in the last quarter of the match. The Vikings, who travelled to Vrchlabi minus some key players, were inspired by team captain, Rhys Latham, who soldiered on in the match after dislocating his shoulder in the 1st half and even scored a try wide out despite his obvious discomfort, while forwards Martin Pokorny and Patrik Nekut contributed solid performances in the engine room.
The CZRLA 2nd Division Championship remains open, with 1 round left to play. 4 of the 3 teams â€“ Havlickuv Brod, Mikulov, Usti nad Labem and Chrudim â€“ are all still mathematical chances of playing in the Grand Final, the latter of htose four clubs the host of the final tourney on October 28.