Milestones on the line for Norths and Warringah

by RUGBY.com.au staff

History is up for grabs for both Norths and Warringah in Saturday's Shute Shield final, and there won't be any shortage of emotion at North Sydney Ocval.

Defending champions Norths are looking for back-to-back titles for the first time since 1964, an incredible turnaround from a side that had not won any titles in 41 years this time last year.

On the other side, Warringah are looking for their first taste of Shute Shield glory since 2005, a victory that would end an emotional season for the Rats.

Rats' no. 8 Sam Ward will be a part of the starting team, just two months after he lost younger brother, Lachlan, playing for the Rats' fourth-grade team.

After that, Sam thought his rugby days would be over, but incredibly he returned to training and playing with the Rats, now pushing for what would be an incredible moment after such a difficult year.

Emotion aside, Rats coach Darren Coleman said they'd learned plenty from their on-field clashes this year, and would be primed for a grand final showdown.

“We’re happy with our form, everyone goes into the final off the back of wins, and we’ve been playing some good footy," he said.

It's going to be a big weekend for Warringah favourite Sam Ward. Photo: Karen Watson"There are plenty of lessons you take when you beat a team, or get beaten, with what works and what doesn’t. They’ve been playing better footy, they’ll be a different animal, and we’re under no illusions as to how tough it’ll be.

"It certainly helps when you’ve got big game experience, but we’re comfortable with our squad, and we’ve had plenty of final rehearsals this season, so we’re relaxed going into the game.”

Norths coach Simon Cron said his team had a clear plan heading into the contest.

“We just need to focus on doing what we do, but doing it better. We were happy with 25 minutes, half an hour of the match against Eastwood last week, but the rest wasn’t great.”

Cron said they couldn’t rely on last year's finals campaign this time around, with plenty of new faces among the side.

“We were fine last year, it’s about being able to absorb pressure and play your game despite the finals atmosphere. We do have a couple of boys with a little more experience in this situation than others, but we also have a lot of new guys in our team.”

The Shoremen have the slight edge when it comes to Super Rugby experience, with Super Rugby caps across their forward pack, with openside Will Miller and lock Hugh Sinclair having suited up for the Rebels this year, and Waratahs no. 8 at the back of the scrum

Waratahs winger Cam Clark will add some X-Factor on the edges for Norths on Saturday.

Waratahs squad flanker Maclean Jones will play for the Rats, with rookie prop Sam Needs in the front row, in a side light-on when it comes to professionals, but packing in plenty of quality regardless.

The Shute Shield final will be played at North Sydney Oval on Saturday, kicking off at 3:10pm AEST, LIVE on 7Two in NSW and streamed on Yahoo7Plus across Australia.

TEAMS

Warringah to take on Norths.

1. Rory O’Connor

2. Rob Kelly

3. Sam Needs

4. Jack Tomkins

5. Cam Treloar

6. Maclean Jones

7. Tom Connor

8. Sam Ward

9. Josh Holmes

10. Myles Dorrian

11. Harry Jones,

12. Josh Gillard

13. Seb Wileman

14. Sailosi Tagicakibau

15. Dave Feltscheer.

Norths to face Warringah

1. Ezra Luxton

2. Sam Kitchen

3. Lawrence Hunting

4. Hugh Sinclair

5. Conor Vest

6. Gary Bautz

7. Will Miller

8. Michael Wells

9. Nick Duffy

10. Angus Sinclair

11. Lachlan Creagh

12. Harry Burey

13. Cameron Clark

14. Richard Woolf

15. Augustin Slowik