Midlands Sharks sink their teeth into 2013 ACM Sports Brit Cup
Tuesday, July 09 2013 @ 05:49 pm ACST
Contributed by: Tobietta Rhyman
The 2013 season saw some big changes to the Brit Cup, starting with the first year the name has been changed to include a sponsor: ACM Sports. However as usual the aim of the tournament was to give British players a chance to shine as the Aussie-expats take a weekend off.
In addition, the format was also changed to allow the hosts, Birmingham Bears, to hold games on a rugby pitch, the common ground type for regional 9-a-side Australian football teams in the UK. Instead of 16-a-side, each team fielded a 10-a-side squad, and instead of an oval field, it was rectangular, in-keeping with the rugby pitch markings with a 40m kicking zone at either end. Shots at goal from outside the zone were not counted.
The smaller team size allowed for more teams than usual, with four teams from the AFL Central and Northern England league – CNE Power, CNE Warriors, Midlands Sharks and league team Nottingham Scorpions – being joined by the WARFL Red Dragons and the AFL London Honeybadgers.
The event was held at Old Yardleians RFC in Birmingham, where games were played on two pitches. Each game was two 12 minute halves, with the winner taking 4 points. The competition was in round robin format, with the top two teams playing each other in the final.
Round 1 Pitch 1
The first game was a derby between the two northern CNE teams, the Warriors in red and the Power in black and yellow. Although the teams were evenly selected and it should have been a close run game, but half time the Warriors were already 6 goals head. The Power managed to claw back 2 goals in the second half but the Warriors again outclassed their northern rivals, adding 4 more goals to their tally. Final score CNE Warriors 10.5(65) def CNE Power 2.2(14).
Round 1 Pitch 2
On pitch 2, there was a much more even game as the WARFL Red Dragons, last year’s champions, took on the AFL London Honeybadgers. The London players showed some spectacular plays but the unusual game format took some getting used to for the 18-a-siders and by the break the Welsh team had eased ahead by 4 goals to 3. The Red Dragons came out stronger in the second half, holding the Honeybadgers to a single behind whilst they kicked another 2 goals. Final score WARFL Red Dragons 6.4(40) def London Honeybadgers 3.2(20).
Nottingham Scorpions and the Midlands Sharks were the two teams representing the southern CNE teams, with Nottingham being the only single club able to field a team. However, they struggled with numbers and with no-one on the bench, they soon started to flag in the heat. The Sharks piled on the goals totalling 4 by half time to the Scorpions’ single behind. After the break, the Midlands team doubled that whilst only conceding 2 behinds, and with every team having played their first game, the CNE Warriors, the Midland Sharks and the WARFL Red Dragons were beginning to look the finals contenders of the day. Final score Midlands Sharks 8.6(54) def Nottingham Scorpions 0.3(3).
Round 3 Pitch 1
By their second game the Honeybadgers should have become used to the game format but by the end of the first half, the Warriors went into the break looking comfortable at 3 goals to 1. In the second half, the Warriors dominated and added another 4 goals, holding the London team to a single behind. Final score London Honeybadgers 1.3(9) def by CNE Warriors 7.6(48).
Round 3 Pitch 2
In their second game, the Red Dragons came out strong attempting to add to their points and book themselves another place in the finals. And by the half time whistle it seemed game over for the Power who were 3 goals down with only a behind to show for their efforts. They came back in the second half and kicked two goals but could not hold back the mighty Red Dragons who added another 4 goals and 4 competition points to their scorecard. Final score WARFL Red Dragons 6.6(42) def CNE Power 2.2(14).
Round 4 Pitch 1
The CNE Power barely got off the ground in this game, despite knowing their opposition’s players well. They only managed a first half behind all game, whilst the Sharks, already showing the onlookers some finals hungry form, clocked up 6 goals by the break. In the second half the Power switched to damage limitation mode and the Sharks only added another 2 goals to their score, but the constant defence meant the Power weren’t getting any attacking opportunities and their scores stayed level. Final score Midlands Sharks 8.8(56) def CNE Power 0.1(1).
Round 4 Pitch 2
After their defeat against their midlands rivals, the Scorpions were out against last year’s champions with something to prove but were unable to hold back the powerhouse WARFL team with 10 men. In the second half the Scorpions were unable to add to their 2 goals, whilst the Red Dragons added 3 goals and 5 behinds to end the game on a lucky 7-7. Final score WARFL Red Dragons 7.7(49) def Nottingham Scorpions 2.2(14).
Round 5 Pitch 1
The home side came out of the blocks early and took 3 bites out of the sluggish Honeybadgers. The London team managed to claw back a goal in the first and second half, but by full time the Sharks had comfortably doubled their goal tally and notched up 6 behinds for fun. Final score London Honeybadgers 2.1(13) def by Midlands Sharks 6.6(42).
Round 5 Pitch 2
The struggling Scorpions never really got off the ground in this game, managing a goal and a behind in the first half and failing to add to it. The stronger Warriors managed 3 goals in both halved but struggled with accuracy, totalling 9 behinds and leaving the onlookers wondering at what the score might have been. Final score Nottingham Scorpions 1.1(7) def by CNE Warriors 6.9(45).
Round 6 Pitch 1
The Honeybadgers finally found their feet in this game against the weaker CNE Power and kicked an early three goals. The Power managed to get a goal back but only scored a minor in the second half, however they did defend well against the Honeybadgers, who only added one more goal to the scoreboard. Final score London Honeybadgers 4.7(31) def CNE Power 1.1(7).
Round 6 Pitch 2
It was during this game that the Red Dragons finally began to run out of steam and had no answer to the Warriors’ 3 first half goals. After the break they found their wings and kicked a couple of goals, but they couldn’t hold back the Warriors’ who also added another to the scoreboard. Though the scores were low, it was clear the Dragons were never going to catch up. Final score WARFL Red Dragons 2.5(17) def by CNE Warriors 4.9(33).
Round 7 Pitch 1
The Power sensed a chance to get their first win of the day against struggling CNE league team Nottingham. But the advantage of knowing the opposition worked both ways and in a hard fought, competitive first half, the Power managed one goal more than the Scorpions’ two. The Scorpions came out the stronger and got another goal, whilst firmly suppressing the Power to three, and pipped the CNE compilation to the first win of the day. Final score CNE Power 3.5(23) def by Nottingham Scorpions 4.6(30).
Round 7 Pitch 2
This was the deciding game for the Red Dragons, who had to win this clash against the local side if they wanted to play in the finals for a chance to retain their status as Brit Cup champions. But the Sharks quickly slayed the Dragon’s hopes with 4 unanswerable goals, which could have been higher had it not been for the Shark’s accuracy problems. The Welsh team managed a goal and 4 behinds in the second half but could not hold back the sharks from confirming their place in the finals with 3 more goals to the tally. Final score Midlands Sharks 7.9(51) def WARFL Red Dragons 1.4(10).
After 10-man Nottingham suffered an injury in the previous round, the Honeybadgers agreed to play 9-a-side for this game, more for pride than points as neither of them had made the finals cut. The Scorpions made the best of it, keeping the Honeybadgers down whilst scoring 2 goals, but in the second half the game was far more exciting, with the London team managing an impressive comeback, putting 4 goals through the centre posts and turning the game around. Final score Nottingham Scorpions 3.5(24) def by London Honeybadgers 4.2(28).
Neither the Sharks nor the Warriors had lost a game up to this point and both of them had continually put on impressive performances. It seemed as if skills and camaraderie would go down to the wire as neither team had shown any sign of flagging so far. However once they took to the field, it was clear the Warriors’ stamina was lacking and by the half time whistle they were two goals down and floundering in their defensive half. But a few mistakes from the Sharks and some flashes of brilliance allowed the Warriors back into the game in the second half, though the Sharks came back at them time and time again. The Warriors had some luck with the Sharks wonky kicking and managed to scrape another goal but it wasn’t quite enough. The Sharks showed the crowd the meaning of “every point counts” with those 4 extra behinds the only difference in the score. Final score Midlands Sharks 4.10 (34) def CNE Warriors 4.6 (30).
AFL England President Adam Bennett presented the three Midlands captains (who represented the Birmingham Bears, Uni team Birmingham Sharks and nearby Wolverhampton Wolverines) with the Brit Cup trophy, much to the delight of the locals, many of whom had turned out to watch the British Lions defeat the Australians at rugby and had stuck around to check out the rival code.
And the day got even better for the Wolverines with the news that team mate Cameron Cope, in Australia representing the World XVIII at the NAB Under 16’s Nationals, had won his game against the NW Western Australia development squad.