Time for the Men´s finals and the Ladies´ semis, with the two leading clubs figuring in both. Exiles meet Pingvin for the third year in a row, while one of last year´s Ladies´ finalists, Göteborg, has completely dropped out the picture. It´s crunch time for Trojan and Göteborg as well as they battle for a place in Allsvenskan next year.
The Men´s final is of course the main event with possibly a majority of those involved in Swedish rugby hoping to see new Champions. Everyone likes of course the honours to go round rather than any particular animosity towards Exiles and Exiles have won for the last five years.
It´s interesting to look back over these years. For the first three Exiles won easily but the other clubs started to improve and catch up last year although the final win was still pretty convincing. Exiles won away 17 – 0 and at home 24 – 3, although Pingvin put up a better fight in the second final than the score would suggest. In 2016 Exiles scored 300+ points in the league and conceded 90, and almost exactly the same this year. Pingvin have scored 200 + in each season but their points against has dropped from 170 to 100, suggesting that their defence has tightened up considerably.
Pingvin won of course their home game in June, 18 – 13, and started off strongly in Stockholm as well, leading 14 – 7 at halftime. But Exiles gradually got on top in the second half which they won 20 – 0 to make it 27 – 14. Exiles will have close to their best team on Saturday in Trelleborg and will be hoping to do better than in June. Let´s see how this first final goes before making any predictions about the Championship outcome.
Third place is also up for grabs this weekend and next as Hammarby start by receiving Enköping at Årsta. Enköping are very dependent on a few senior players and their results have shown dramatic swings over the season. I think Hammarby will just be favourites to retain their bronze medals, not least by virtue of having half a dozen players from Södertälje.
Trojan have lost all their games this season but will be hoping they can win the last one by at least 8 points against Göteborg to make sure they will retain the right to play in Allsvenskan next year. Probably a 50 – 50 chance, although most teams would like to see both teams playing there next year.
There should also be matches for 7th/8th rankings in Sweden between Exiles Twos and Erikslund, but neither team has shown any great enthusiasm. They will probably never be played and Erikslund can concentrate on their players in the U18 team.
The Exiles Ladies are continuing to train hard and will be hoping to retain their title. The North and South teams have not met so far this year at 15s so we don´t really know where everyone stands. I would be surprised, however, if Exiles do not prove too strong for Pingvin whom they also meet in Trelleborg. Vänersborg, like Exiles, have had very few demanding games so far this season but should be better than a strenthened Enköping who are not bad but a little short on scoring power.
Author: HM Senior