Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
This weekend will see the Final of the Totalrl.com Rugby League Conference South division between Minor Premiers the South London Storm and the winners of last weekend's Semi Final Eliminator the West London Sharks. The winner will take not only the title of regional Champion but also a semi final place in the national knock out competition against the winners of the Welsh regional grand final. West London beat Ipswich Rhinos on the weekend 52-18 a result that was put into context as Ipswich finished with 11 fit players, a similar feat achieved by South London in the final match of the season (South London losing their first match this year 4 weeks ago against West London with 11 fit players). This will be the 5th time this season that the two sides have met. South London hold the upper hand at the moment with 3 wins to West's 1 but this is not to say that they dominate the matches by any means. The first match was the first round of the Challenge cup back in February when South London triumphed by 4 points. In the regular league season honours have been even with one win each and an aggregate difference of only plus 2 points to South London overall. The honours were very much even in displays as well with Wests thoroughly dominating the return trip after South London dominated the first match. The last time the teams played was in the first semi final in which the winner took their automatic place in the Grand Final where South London with a full strength side beat a West London this time suffering injuries by 70-6. South London this week look to be sending out a close to full strength side again. At the timing of publication the only notable players missing were Mick Smith and John Ferguson who have headed back home to Australia after injuries finished their season early. Other Injuries picked up in the last few matches of the season to Samron Kahia, Mick Walker, Dave Wilson and Louis Neethling should now have recovered after having a week off. Part of South London Storms success has been due to the part that it is one squad and the whole club works together. The entire squad was given a week off this weekend as both teams have big matches this weekend. As such the whole squad has had a rest and injuries are recovering to fringe first team players and second team players. As such training will be much tougher for the players in the run up to not only the First team regional Grand Final but also the Second team National Quarter Final. South London 'A' the TotalRL.com RLC London Shield Champions will now play away to St Ives Roosters who beat Bedford Tigers last weekend in the Eastern Shield Championships. This is the first time the two teams have ever met and as such they are an unknown quantity. One thing that is known is that they will be no easy team to beat as anyone getting this far will be a good side. The second team will benefit from the fact that injuries are recovering throughout the entire squad and training this week will show the unity between the two teams. This is the best season that the Thornton Heath based club have ever had across the board and this weekend will almost certainly be one of the best and most testing of all. South London host West London at their Frant Road ground on Saturday kicking off at 2.30pm. The Amateur Champions of the South of England will be crowned and a match to fit the title is a certainty. If you are a fan of London sport this is definitely one not to miss.