Three champions will be decided across Europe on Saturday as rugby league seasons come to an end.
The 2015 Czech Rugby League Grand Final will be played between Orli Havlickuv Brod and Czech Rabbitohs in Tis, ensuring that a new name is added to the list of ultimate winners.
The sides finished first and second respectively after the regular season which saw seven sides play each other home and away, Orli ending with 20 points, defeated only twice in 12 games, two ahead of the Rabbitohs.
Form going into the final sees Orli looking to respond to a last round 24-8 defeat at resurgent Slavia Hradec Kralove, who finished third, whilst the Rabbits overcame fourth-placed Mikulov Roosters 12-6 to end a three game losing streak.
In the other final round match, Vrchlabi Mad Squirrels won a high scoring game at 2014 Czech Champions Lokomotiva Beroun 38-30, who finished bottom of the table this time round.
Havlickuv Brod coach Martic Kopic is looking forward to the defining clash of 2015. “We would have liked to go into the last game on the back of a win but we are focussed on taking the Grand Final in front of our home fans,” he said. “We have had a great season and we need to take our consistent good form into the final match.”
Orli will be looking to their four Czech internationals; Filip Spacek, Vladimir Mach, Milan Pesout and top try scorer Michal Pecha to lead them to their first title.
“We are relieved to get back to winning ways,” said Czech Rabbitohs captain and international Tomas Ricica. “After winning our first eight games of the season maybe we showed some complacency in recent matches but this win shows how determined we are to take the Grand Final. Losing in last year’s to Lokomotiva is still fresh in many of our minds and we do not want to repeat it this year.”
Pre-season favourites RLC Krupka Dragons finished a disappointing fifth after an injury strewn season that robbed them of many key players for large parts of 2015 but a highlight for the Dragons was the opening of their new ground which is the third dedicated rugby league ground in the country after the ones in Vrchlabi and Tis.
The main game will be preceded by a U18 East v West Junior challenge match and, for the first time, all four of the Grand Final match officials will be Czech nationals.
The Serbian season will end with old rivals Dorćol and Partizan facing each other at FC Radnički Novi Beograd Stadium, in a match that can be seen livestreamed on https://ginicam.com/event/qwNR83oiu5l2yZmvU2mmsaM (kick off 2.15pm CET, 1.15pm GMT)
After a rocky start, Dorćol finished league leaders, defeating Partizan 50-18 a fortnight ago in the last round of games.
In the 13 seasons of Grand Finals in Serbia, Dorćol has been ever-presents, winning the first 12 titles before losing out to Red Star in 2014. If they win back their crown tomorrow, it will see them complete an unprecedented quadruple this year, after already winning the Super Cup, Serbian Cup and 9s championship.
“This was a year full of ups and downs, so we are very motivated to end it with another trophy and making SRL history yet again,” said Dorćol captain Dalibor Vukanović.
Partizan have made their first Grand Final after a superb season which saw them as early front runners, the only points dropped those to Dorćol in the last round and in a 26-all draw against the same opponents in round five.
Last week, to qualify for the final showdown, their young side battled past Red Star 30-26 in a terrific clash. Partizan coach Admir Hadžić believes his team can make one more push for glory. “It is already an historic season for us, but we won’t stop at that,” he said. “Our dream is to become champions and we will do everything on Saturday to achieve it.”
The Norwegian champions will also be decided when Bodø Barbarians meet Trondheim/Flisbyen Broncos at the top level soccer facilities of Aspmyra stadium.
It is also planned to livestream the clash, from which all entry fees will be donated to the children’s ward at the local hospital.