Lokomotiva Beroun have gone through a second consecutive CZRLA 1st Division Championship season undefeated with a 36-28 win over Zemní Stavby Vrchlabí (formerly the Mad Squirrels) in the Grand Final.
Beroun, playing on home territory, went into the match as hot favourites but, unlike last year’s Grand Final – which they won 50-0 against Prague Vikings – they were made to battle all the way for their win. Vrchlabi trailed 8-6 at half-time but hit the lead shortly after the resumption of play on the back of some determined power-forward runs and disciplined defence. The loss of on-field leaders, player-coach David Lahr and Standa Kosar, to significant injuries ultimately told though, the score blowing-out from 18-16 to 36-16 after their exit from the match, before the visitors dug deep to battle back into the game and make the final score more indicative of what was a thoroughly enthralling match.
For Beroun, talismatic team leader, Jan Buben, pulled the strings which dictated much of his team’s play, Michal Hora – after missing the final round of the Championship due to an horrific head clash with his Czech back-row partner, Venca Fischer, which required extensive stitching, in the penultimate round against Teplice – turned in a typically barn-storming display, while 2013 national team debutants Jiri Suchopar and Jan Zitek were also standouts.
Zemní Stavby Vrchlabí 2nd rower, Marcel Novak, was awarded the coveted Milan Mrtynek Medal – named in honour of the founder of Czech Rugby League – as Grand Final Man of the Match, continuing a rich vein of form which Lahr believes has seen him produce the best performances of his rugby league career over the latter 1/3 of the season, after he was overlooked for the national team for a second consecutive year. Novak continues the tradition of forward leaders taking out this award, after it was won by Beroun’s Tomas Kristoff – absent from the Grand Final team this year because of study commitments overseas – in 2012 and Pavel Zemanek in 2011 – the first year a Czech Rugby League Grand Final was played and the award was initiated – after his 4 try effort for the Pardubice Jets led them to a 42-18 win against the then Beroun Black Panthers, which was the last loss suffered by Beroun in any form of domestic rugby league.
CZRLA Secretary, Petr Sedina, described the Grand Final as “the best game of domestic rugby league I have seen – very tough, good tackles, and some very strong carries”, while CZRLA Treasurer, Iain Sellers – who was, with Mrtynek, John Anderson and Jan Sluka, one of the guiding lights in the introduction of rugby league into the Czech Republic in 2006 – simply described it as, ”the best game in Czech, ever!”
The final phase of the 2013 Czech rugby league season will be the inaugural CZRLA Awards evening on November 2, in which the South Sydney Rabbitohs CEO, Shane Richardson, will be presenting both the 2013 CZRLA Domestic Player of the Year & International Player of the Year awards, and where Milan Mrtynek and John Anderson will be symbolically awarded the first ever CZRLA Life Memberships.