Contributed by: Aaron Richard
Clubs from around England and Wales descended on Cardiff last Saturday for WARFL's British "Clwb" Challenge, now in its third year. It was a perfect day for footy with a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Welsh capital setting the scene for a great day of fast paced action which would be the first competitive football in Wales for 2010.
The clubs this year fighting it out for the cup included last year’s winners Nottingham Scorpions, and the South Cardiff Panthers who were also the first ever Welsh club to enter a team into this tournament. They were joined by newcomers Birmingham Bears, Portsmouth Pirates and European powerhouse West London Wildcats.
The Wildcats went into the tournament as certain favourites, with a squad of 16 that included only one non-Australian, which coincidentally enough was Welsh international Tom Cleary.
This report courtesy of the WARFL.
The tournament kicked off at the picturesque Llandaff Fields with South Cardiff Panthers taking on English club Birmingham Bears in round one along with Nottingham Scorpions playing Portsmouth Pirates.
For the Panthers their match had extra importance as they were keen to avenge for the league representative team WARFL Red Devils (which was extremely depleted that day) loss to the Bears' partner club Birmingham University in January this year. However the Panthers easily accounted for the Bears starting their campaign with a healthy 30 point margin whilst Nottingham had little resistance for their win against Portsmouth.
In round 2 the Panthers continued their dream start with a win over the Pirates. In the other match the Wildcats sent a message to the other clubs thrashing the Bears by the tune of 94 points.
For probably the match of the day AFL London's 2009 Premiers West London continued their winning ways by defeating WARFL's 2009 Premiers South Cardiff by 30 points.
However even though the Wildcats were never really worried the Panthers did play some good football to at least give the Australian dominated team a real contest which is quite promising for the Welsh club consisting of one Aussie in their squad. The other match in round 3 was between Nottingham and Birmingham. Unfortunately for the Bears the Scorpions were far too strong winning by 37 points.
The following round was probably the Bears best chance of a win for the day playing Portsmouth Pirates who were also yet to record a victory. Unfortunately for Birmingham their final match of the tournament ended as a loss and the Pirates got a well deserved win. In the other round 4 match the Scorpions were looking to impress against West London, however the Wildcats accounted Nottingham with a strong 31 victory.
In the final matches of the league stage the Wildcats recorded the biggest victory in the tournament’s history by defeating the Pirates in their final match by a whooping 101 points. The last match for the Panthers and Scorpions would also prove to be an ‘elimination final’ as the winner would go through to the Grand Final to play against the Wildcats which in itself was a bit of a nightmare scenario win, loss or draw.
The Panthers burst out of the blocks taking a 23 point lead into half time but not before a heated melee broke out involving just about all the players on the field (as well as some players even running onto the ground from the bench) when South Cardiff’s captain Arron Thomas taking offence to a tackle laid after the ball went over the boundary line.
In the second half Nottingham made a spirited come back but the half time lead proved too much for the Scorpions. Even though out scoring South Cardiff in the second half the Panthers were 20 points up at the final siren meaning the Scorpions cup defence was over.
After a long day the Grand Final was now between the two form teams of the tournament. However any thoughts of the Panthers causing a major upset were dealt a blow before the game even started. South Cardiff had a couple of star players sustain injuries from the energy sapping match against the Scorpions meaning they were down on interchange players and the squad look totally exhausted.
The match started as expected with West London kicking the first goal within the first 30 seconds. Unfortunately for the Panthers that trend continued as the Australian dominated Wildcats kicked goal after goal to hold South Cardiff scoreless taking a surely irreversible 50 point lead into half time.
The second half didn’t see the Panthers fare any better as the Wildcats continued to pile on the goals. The final siren couldn’t have come sooner for South Cardiff as West London won their first British “Clwb” Challenge by 89 points which will no doubt not be their last.
There was of course a slight Welsh connection, with “adopted” Welshman and former Swansea Magpies captain Tom Cleary playing in the Wildcats victory. The win may also have been a consolation prize for last year’s heart breaking 2 point loss to the Panthers in the WARFL grand Final.
On behalf of the WARFL we wish to congratulate the West London Wildcats on their victory along with local Welsh superstar David Saunders for winning player of the tournament medal.
Also we like to very much thank all the clubs for coming to Wales and competing in our tournament and of course a massive thank must you go to the volunteers as well as the umpires namely Rob Fielder, Glyn Smith, Lance Chappell, Luke Scanlan, Duncan Brennan, Alex Parry and everyone else that helped to make that day a enjoyable one and couldn’t have happened without thier help.
Next year we’re hoping to draw the best clubs from across the isle with invitations going to the premiers of each league in England, Scotland and Wales to have the first ever Premiership play off to determine the best club in Britain for that season.
In Wales we now turn our attention to the forthcoming WARFL preseason competition known as the Cymru Clwb Cup, with all 5 WARFL clubs competing, including last year's winners Cardiff Double Blues who will be keen to hang on to the trophy.
Bring on the season!!
British “Clwb” Challenge results:
Birmingham Bears 2.2 (14)
South Cardiff Panthers 7.7 (49)
Nottingham Scorpions 8.3 (51)
Portsmouth Pirates 1.7 (13)
Portsmouth Pirates 1.1 (7)
South Cardiff Panthers 5.14 (44)
Birmingham Bears 1.0 (6)
West London Wildcats 15.10 (100)
South Cardiff Panthers 3.2 (20)
West London Wildcats 7.8 (50)
Birmingham Bears 1.4 (10)
Nottingham Scorpions 7.5 (47)
Birmingham Bears 2.5 (17)
Portsmouth Pirates 3.4 (22)
Nottingham Scorpions 1.4 (10)
West London Wildcats 6.5 (41)
West London Wildcats 16.7 (103)
Portsmouth Pirates 0.2 (2)
Nottingham Scorpions 3.9 (27)
South Cardiff Panthers 7.5 (47)
South Cardiff Panthers 0.2 (2)
West London Wildcats 14.7 (91)
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