Contributed by: Brett NortheyThe Denver Bulldogs have again taken out the top division of the USAFL Nationals, the most prestigious event in US Australian Rules football. Other winners were Arizona and a combined Cincinnati/Pittsburgh side.
Denver have again silenced the critics with an 11 point win in a tough battle for Division 1 honours against the New York Magpies. The Bulldogs, based in Colorado, are somewhat isolated from the major leagues of the mid-west and eastern USA. They are also a long way from the Californian league. So each year they don't get a lot of games during the season, and very few on home turf. As such, there are always doubts about them coming into the US Nationals, but in 2004 they have gone through the tournament undefeated and created a record of three championships in a row (for a total of four) - a mark that may stand a long time.
Division 1 Denver 2.6-18 New York 1.1-7
In the second tier, as predicted Arizona had a tight battle with Chicago to even make the final - so tight it ended in a draw, 6.2-38 apiece. The team from the Windy City were very unlucky not to make it through to the playoff, and it would have hurt watching Arizona go on to win. The Hawks knocked off an impressive Philadelphia side in the final. It was a triumph for the Arizona club, which has concentrated on developing a metro league and fielded a mainly American side.
Division 2 Arizona Hawks 3.4-22 Philadelphia 3.2-20
In the third division, Cincinnati/Pittsburgh had a surprisingly comfortable win in the final over Kansas City/Louisville. Louisville are re-forming after being one of the foundation clubs of Aussie Rules in the US.
Division 3 Cincinnati/Pittsburgh 8.5-53 Kansas City/Louisville 3.2-20
Probably the major disappoinments of the tournament were Atlanta (in results, not as hosts of the USAFL's premier event), Dallas and St Louis (the reigning MAAFL champions). All three clubs will be doing some soul-searching, but should still bounce back, after at times looking very good this year.
So to summarise a huge weekend in US footy, Denver have again shown themselves to be the dominant club in the United States, Arizona are clearly on the rise, with an almost all-American side, the new combined Chicago team will be a strong combination in future, and Golden Gate's metro league is also producing a lot of depth.
All the scores can be found at the US Footy website.
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