Valley Cougars are looking to repeat their success from 2014 by winning the Conference League South Grand Final against a team who has got the better of them over the regular season writes Ian Golden.
Two years ago, the Cougars beat hot favourites Sheffield Hallam Eagles, who had previously beaten them home and away.
This Saturday they face London Chargers at Pennine Way, Hemel Hempstead (kick-off 3.00pm) in a Final that, like 2014, is closer to their opponents’ home.
The Cougars have only lost three times this season, with two of those reverses being against the Chargers, but that doesn’t worry player-coach Dafydd Hellard who has helped his side win games home and away on the road to finishing top of the table.
“We can’t wait,” Hellard said. “At the start of the season we set ourselves goals and one of those was to get to the Grand Final again.
“It’s three years in a row for us now in this Final. We won the first one, then lost last year after finishing top of the table, so we’re looking to push on this year and do the double – winning the Grand Final as well as being league leaders.”
He continued: “We know London have beaten us twice this season but we won’t be thinking about that. We don’t want to lose any games, whether it comes to league or play-offs. We respect London, who are a well-drilled and well-organised team. They play a basic game but do it all really well. We’re concentrating on our own style of game, the one that made us league leaders once again. We’re going up to win but whatever happens, we’ll enjoy the occasion.”
The Conference League South Final will be preceded by the 19th Harry Jepson Trophy Final, the national knockout competition featuring champions of local leagues from across the south of England, won last year by London Chargers.
This year’s final, between Wests Warriors of London and Northampton Demons (1.00pm), will be more of a sombre occasion as it will be the first not to feature Mr Jepson as a guest, the great servant to the game having passed away last month aged 96.