The final game of the eastern division takes place Saturday with the winner advancing to the Rugby Canada Super League national final in Regina on Aug. 18 against the Saskatchewan Prairie Fire.
This will be Niagara Thunder’s third try in as many years to unseat the Newfoundland Rock for the divisional crown. Both teams are 5-0 going into the final league game that kicks off at 4:30 p.m. at Sherwood Forest Park, home of the Burlington Centaurs RFC.
For the Rock, success on Saturday would mean a chance to take the national title for the third year in a row. They are undefeated in their last 19 games, including national championships in 2005 and 2006.
Meanwhile the mood is upbeat in the Thunder camp. This year’s squad is young and athletic but with recent experience at high levels: Colin Brown, Devin Steubel and Cam Mitchell have played for Canada’s U21s this year, and Jordan Kozina and Steve Piatek have played in the NA4 tournaments (Canada East, Canada West, US Hawks, US Falcons). Kozina has been named to the Canada A team to play Portugal in Toronto on Aug.11. Rounding out the squad is the experience of Harry Cheung, Jon Goldie, Spence Fullerton, Matt Lindsay, Andrew Thomson and Dave Knowles going into their third eastern final.
Thunder coach Jeff Prince is looking forward to a great match-up. “We’ve been building for this game throughout the season and particularly over the last month, and to have both teams come into it undefeated in the regular season means that everything is on the line.”
Preceding the RCSL divisional showdown, the Niagara Lightning will face the Junior Rock for the Eastern Canada Under 20 championship at 2:30 p.m. The winner will meet Fraser Valley for the first ever Rugby Canada Super League U20 National Championships, also in Regina on Aug.18.