The Guildford Owls are thus far the success story of the 2018 NSWRL Finals campaign, storming into the Sydney Shield Grand Final from seventh position on the ladder.
It’s quite remarkable, but they finished a massive 15 competition points behind their opponents, the East Campbelltown Eagles, proving that it’s a different competition at the cease of the regular season.
Steered around by crafty halfback Nathan Masima, the Owls look to continue their golden run and upset the Eagles as they did to the Wentworthville Magpies last week, and they proved just a few weeks ago that they can keep up with the Sydney Shield minor premiers. In Round 19, two tries in the final eight minutes saw the Owls hold on for a 34-all draw.
Josh Delailoa and Saimone Lasalo – both named to play in the Grand Final – both scored doubles that day, and will need to both play a part should the Owls pull off one of the great Rugby League upsets.
In saying that, East Campbelltown have far and away been the most dominant team in the Sydney Shield this season.
An uncharacteristic defeat in the first week of finals means they’ve had to make the Grand Final the hard way, only their third loss of the year. A tough, come-from-behind win against Moorebank last week has them in perfect stead for this week’s decider as they look to go one better than the Round 19 clash.
East Campbelltown are the most decorated team in the history of the Sydney Shield, and a win would cap off what has been a dominant period for the team having won the premiership in 2016.
They will certainly be out to spoil the Guildford Owl’s party, and their goal-line defence in the final few minutes of the Preliminary Final shows they have whatever it takes to go all the way in 2018.