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Friday, July 19 2019 @ 11:13 am ACST

Western Regional I - Lions roar loudest

North America

The Western Regionals held this weekend in San Pedro, California serves a number of purposes. It allows the western US clubs to get together in some good competition matches, to gain experience for newcomers, to finalise team setups, to qualify players for the National Championships and to allow the USAFL board to understand the strength of various teams for ranking purposes going into the National Championships.

This year four clubs contested the first instalment of the Regionals, being San Diego, So Cal Bombers, Denver Bulldogs and Arizona Hawks. All clubs have some form of metro season particularly the AZAFL that the Arizona team is selected from and the SCAFL which the Bombers team is selected from.

In good conditions on day one, San Diego and Denver as expected showed they were the teams to beat with comfortable wins over both the Hawks and the Bombers. Day two would wrap up proceedings with San Diego and Denver fighting to go undefeated for the tournament, and Arizona and the So Cal team fighting to go home with at least one win on the board.

In somewhat of an upset the San Diego team easily accounted for the Denver side 7.11 (53) to 2.0 (12). Denver rarely loose any matches and will no doubt take the loss hard and go back to put in some more serious work on the track before the second regional. The San Diego side reaping the benefits of their own big track sessions with superior fitness and skills were solid throughout the tournament and perhaps have a side capable of challenging for the National title this year.

Arizona was unable to overcome a So Cal team that just appeared to have better finish around the ground, they will return to hone their own skills to complement their impressive fitness. The SCAFL league has their finals matches as well as a home and away series against San Diego before the second instalment of these tournaments and no doubt will continue to improve this year.

Also at the tournament were the Las Vegas Gamblers who were unable to send a full squad capable of competing against the other teams at this tournament. An undercard "Metro" tournament took place with the San Diego B team defeating Las Vegas on the Saturday but losing to them on the Sunday in the final. Las Vegas also took on a combine SCAFL/Denver team on the Saturday and defeated them comfortably. It was encouraging to see the Las Vegas boys play away matches, having two victories and continuing to build their team which will be at home for the National Championships.

It is hoped that other western clubs that did not attend this first regional tournament particularly Seattle (who will team up with Portland) and Golden Gate may attend the second regional tournament to be held August 26-27 in San Diego. We would also hope that there is not a repeat of the withdrawals in the second tournament last year. It would be nice to see the other western clubs the Mojave Greens, Bakersfield Barbarians, Rocky Mountain Saints able to put sides together running into the Las Vegas hosted Nationals in October, but at this stage that seems unlikely.

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