This Saturday, one team will look to become back-to-back premiers, the other will look to lift their maiden VAILO Dewar Shield.
Season 2023 of Victoria’s Premier Rugby competition will conclude this Saturday 26 August with the two top teams, Harlequins and Endeavour Hills, facing off in another chapter of a modern rivalry.
Both teams punched their ticket to the big dance through hard-fought victories, with Harlequins overcoming Endeavour Hills in the Major Semi-Final 28-19, while Endeavour Hills put away Power House 27-24 in the Preliminary Final.
Entering the 2023 Grand Final, Harlequins will be looking to go back-to-back for the first time in a decade, while Endeavour Hills are searching for their first taste of premiership glory.
Going into the game as Minor Premiers and reigning champions, Harlequins Head Coach Chris Allen said the team has sought to keep things as normal as possible this week, despite having a week off to prepare and review their performance.
“We learnt a lot about our defensive effort during our review of the Semi-Final, there’s room to improve considerably,” said Allen.
“We expect Endeavour Hills to bring physicality, desperation and heart. That was on display on Saturday against Power House and I expect nothing less from the Hills side.”
Endeavour Hills were the sole team to hand Harlequins their only loss of the season, however that will not play into consideration – it's all about the here and now for Allen and his team.
“It doesn’t matter what happened last week or last time it’s about us and the here and now,” said Allen.
Speaking on what becoming back-to-back premierships would mean for the club, Harlequins Captain Sitiveni Paongo said it’s been several months since we started preseason and there are eight clubs all vying to be here on Grand Final day, so it is about taking our opportunity once more.
“As I’ve said to the boys the past few weeks, just because we finished Minor Premiers doesn’t mean we deserve to win this weekend, we need to earn it,” said Paongo.
Vying for their first title, Endeavour Hills Club President Jeff Lemalu said the team has prepared well and going into the game they are excited for the opportunity to etch their name in history.
“This is the first time our club has been in a Dewar Shield Grand Final, so it is a very special occasion for not only the players involved on the day, but the club, families, volunteers and everyone who has come before us,” said Lemalu.
“The team understand they need to play for the full 80 minutes, not 60 or 70 minutes which has hurt us previously. They are willing to dig deep and do what needs to be done.”
Lifting the Dewar Shield for the first time would mean plenty for the Endeavour Hills community, for a club built on strong family ties.
“Crowds have been growing throughout the season as our team has continued to show how good they could be and we expect plenty of family and friends to turn up on Saturday to support not only our Dewar Shield team but the Lindroth Cup team as well.”
Tune into Rugby Victoria’s Facebook page for a livestream of the VAILO Dewar Shield Grand Final from 3:10PM or head to RHL Sparks Reserve at Box Hill from 3:15PM to catch the game live!