Thursday, 14 August 2014

Harlequin in the driving chair for the second title in a row.

The Quins not only had a week to rest when the Broncos were battling up to the last minute against the Unicorns in the preliminary final, but they have comprehensively beaten them 26 – 7 in their last encounter in the Major Semi.
Arguably the Broncos were without their inspirational scrumhalf Ben Meehan in that match, but there are signs that the form of two teams could be on opposite slopes.

The Broncos have surprised everyone this season, from struggler in 2013 they started with the foot on the gas and impressed with speed and running footy. In the last part of the season they had several close matches and their bodies are showing the signs of the long campaign.

A Dewar Shield victory would be the coronation of a remarkable come back. Last Premiership for the Broncos was in 2001, after a three year domination of Victorian Rugby.

On the other side Craig McGrath’s Harlequin has conducted themselves all the season as the red hot candidates. Their overall structure is being more solid and consistent throughout the season with only three close losses and one draw.

Quins’ last loss was almost exactly two months ago, in round 12 against Power House on June 14th, from there they won all matches except a draw against, guess who, Box Hill.

Box Hill’s coach Andrew Slyfield has named an unchanged team for the final, trusting the same XV that hold on against Melbourne to deliver in the Grand Final.
For Harlequins the only changes from the Major Semi are in the backs: Maradona Farao and Lloyd Johansson return to first and second receiver respectively, with the Craig McGrath at scrumhalf and Taylor Acheson is forced to the bench.

Quins are favourite on form and because they had a week of rest, and mostly because they look and act as a more compact and mature team, with key players with the required experience and leadership skills to guide them through the final. Box Hill may be a surprise package and they will use their position as underdogs to go under Quin’s skin, try an historical upset and use the home advantage to their best.

My prediction is that the Shield will stay another season at Holmesglen Reserve.
Quins celebrate 2013 Dewar Shield

Courtesy to the Melbourne Rebels site here the teams for tomorrow’s final:


15 Justin Marsters
14 Landre Te Kahu
13 Leo Taliu
12 Lloyd Johansson
11 Majokah Schuster
10 Maradona Farao
9 Craig McGrath
8 Pom Simona
7 Sione Taufa
6 OJ Noa
5 Angus Hamilton
4 Niko Lauina
3 Junior Manase
2 Kolo Mahe
1 Dale Stevenson

Reserves: Albert Tokahere, Eugene Mulipola, Peter Luamanuvae, Zac Dixon, Paul Graham, Kemu Valetini, Talaimanu Tivoli, Taylor Acheson

Box Hill

15 Bill Seveti
14 Alex Healey
13 Sefanaia Naivalu
12 Isi Kioa
11 Filipe Koroibola
10 Pava Makoni
9 Ben Meehan
8 Moses Haukinima
7 Sowani Saunitoga
6 Drew Collins
5 Adam Lewis
4 Teo Fudakowski
3 Sione Puamau
2 Greg Bauer
1 George Manuoketoa

Reserves: Chris Moran, Ed Woodger, Richie Pongi, Ged Logan, Joe Cousens, Rory Featherstone, Savenaca Waqalutu, Ben Williams

Referee: Matt Hall
Assistant Referee 1: Darren O’Brien
Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Schwilk

One last curiosity, in every match between the two sides at least one of the two teams has scored at least 26 points, may be worth a visit to TAB?

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