The hopes of the Bristol Dockers to defend their AFL Wales title took a positive turn last round when they downed their major challenger, the Cardiff Panthers, by 13 points. In a tight game, the Dockers were too good in the end and have raced two games ahead of the Panthers in the race for top spot, with only three days of matches remaining before the grand final.
The 2017 champions have won all three of their games played to date this season. They also have a healthy percentage break. The Panthers have a win and a loss and the Chippenham (Wiltshire & Bath) Redbacks are yet to record a win.
The Welsh season is being fought on two fronts in 2018. As well as the regular competition (AFL Wales - WARFL), there is also the historic union of the WARFL (Welsh league) and the SEAFL (Southern Engand) being played across the year. The first instalment of that united SEWARFL competition was played recently, hosted by Chippenham.
The DAFL season has crossed into the second half and the run home to the finals. With Round 10 being completed last weekend, each of the six teams still has either four or five games to go before finals. However, in what promises to be a sensational run to the finals, only one team is unlikely to reach the finals. All others are not only finals chances, but depending on their finish from here, they are all a chance for the minor premiership.
Last weekend’s matches saw the Aalborg Kangaroos take a forfeit victory over the Copenhagen Barracudas. The pace setting Farum Cats had a big win over the Port Malmö Maulers by 78 points to secure top spot for the time being.
Where things get interesting is the top five teams – they are now separated on points by just one game. The Cats sit on top with 16 points, whilst the Copenhagen Barracudas and Giants, Aalborg Kangaroos and Port Malmö Maulers are locked on 12 points apiece with varying percentages. In context, the first placed Cats are just a game and 19 percent ahead of the fifth placed Maulers. The Lions sit two games behind the Maulers, which is a bridge too far to get to the finals.
A costly loss for the North London Lions has allowed both the Wandsworth Demons and the West London Wildcats to surge away from them in first and second place respectively on the AFL London ladder. Going into the round, the Lions were right in the mix and were more than a match for the two higher-fancied teams. However, their 32-point defeat at the hands of the Demons has changed the balance of power.
With the Demons winning against the Lions and the Wildcats hammering the Wimbledon Hawks, both teams have a slight buffer with the competition well into the second half of the season. The Lions are not out of contention for a top two finish, but their job has become a little harder.
The Wildcats continued a tough season for the Hawks, downing the latter by 144 points and racking up a huge percentage boost which looks like a very useful commodity with a tight three-team struggle near the top. The loss compounds the Hawks’ woes and keeps them anchored to the bottom of the table.
Premierships are never won mid-season, and any team already planning their celebrations should hold onto their deposit a little longer. But it is fair to say that once a habit of winning gets a hold, clubs are right to capitalise on it to the maximum - and that is roughly where the Belfast Redbacks currently sit in the AFL Ireland competition.
The competition has reached the mid-point and all clubs still have a point to prove and dreams to realise.
After a dour struggle with the South Dublin Swans on the weekend, the Redbacks held on to make it five wins from five starts for the 2018 season. Their seven-point victory has set up a great chance to aim for an undefeated season – a step up from winning as many games as possible. It was a tough and tight affair, and the Swans gave themselves every chance of pulling off an upset. But in the end, the Belfast crew held their nerve to win.
The history books will forever show that the DC Aguilas became the first ever AFL Colombia champions after their 15-point victory over the Bogota Bullants. A year ago, this competition did not exist, yet now it boasts a champion team after a hugely successful first season.
Paddy Smallwood, president of AFL Colombia, provided his view of the biggest match yet to be played in Bogota. “The best game of the season was saved for the grand final - the Aguilas going in favourites but the Bullants regaining their captain and some quality players made for a thrilling and hard fought affair.”
“The Aguilas jumped out of the gate in the first quarter, dominating possession in their forward half. However, they were not able to convert it on the scorecard with some strong Bullants defending and inaccuracy restricting the Aguilas to two goals. The Bullants rallied with 2 quick goals late in the quarter before the Aguilas steadied and kicked a late goal just before the siren to take a 7 point lead into the quarter time break.”
In the only match for Round 6 in the AFLG competition in Germany last weekend, the league’s newest team – the Württemberg Giants – have enjoyed their second win of the season, upsetting the Frankfurt Redbacks by nine points at home.
It took a huge last quarter from the Giants, with the Redbacks having led the match at every change. The match was tight from the outset with the Redbacks holding an eight-point lead at quarter-time and just five points at the main break. At the final change, it was still a goal separating the teams. However, a three goal to one burst from the Giants in the final quarter saw them home in a great game.
Final Score: Württemberg Giants 11 13 79 d Frankfurt Redbacks 10 10 70
The Manchester Mozzies’ relentless surge towards another AFLCNE premiership took further power surge on the weekend when the reigning champions crushed the Merseyside Saints in Wolverhampton. Whilst premierships are never won mid-season, they are certainly prepared for and aimed for across the season. The Mozzies 30-goal win proved that they have the drive to push as hard as they can and the talent to go with that desire.
The loss continued a tough season for the Merseyside Saints. Realistically, it was always going to be a tough ask for them in 2018. With teams like the Sheffield Thunder and Tyne Tees Tigers missing, it left next to no highly possible victories. Again, the club is in a new learning phase and the latest effort against the Mozzies has to be seen as a practical learning session rather than some sort of setback.
The dominance of the Mozzies gives them huge benefits in experimenting and trialling ideas for later, resting players where necessary, planning tactics to meet particular situations and generally getting on to of all the little things that make a premiership.
The Kingdom Kangaroos moved another step closer to a finals berth on the weekend when they downed the Greater Glasgow Giants by two goals in wet conditions at home in Kirkcaldy. The win puts them in prime position to hold on to third place come finals time and wait for the vagaries of finals football to determine their future.
The defeat for the Giants puts them in an unwanted but nonetheless unique position. They remain winless at the base of the ladder with only a mathematical chance of finals action. Worse, they are perilously close to dropping from premiers to wooden spoon in the space of a single season. They will be desperate for that to not occur, but the reality is there and it isn’t totally in their hands to avert that outcome.
Prologue: It was 2009 and a nine year old girl, Elisha King, was playing for Hambledon State School in their first ever girl’s carnival. Almost three years younger than most of the other girls on the field, Elisha had to be given special consideration to be allowed to play. Thankfully, she was allowed and was by far the best Hambo girl on the field, with three goals on the day, as the team finished runners-up to St Joseph’s school by a solitary point.
It was the start of my own three-year period of coaching Elisha in school teams, but more significantly, it was another step on a journey that has seen Elisha selected by the North Melbourne Kangaroos AFLW team. The girl who promised so much back when women’s and girls’ footy barely existed has made it to the highest level of the game – and that makes a great story.
Jodi King is one proud mum. It is almost certain that without incredible family support, Elisha would most likely not have made it this far. According to Jodi, “Elisha’s journey has been very long. She started at the age of six with Auskick. [Elisha’s early footy saw her] playing alongside [older brother] Hayden and watching [older brother again] Aaron play. At the age of nine, Elisha also got involved in basketball and hockey. It was very hard for Elisha to stay with footy and she was making rep teams in both hockey and footy.”
The inaugural season of the CAFL (Colombia Australian Football League) will come to a satisfying close this weekend when the nation’s first ever Aussie Rules grand final will be played in the capital city of Bogota. It will bring to an end a season were Aussie expats have blended beautifully with local Colombian talent to see the rise of the game in South America that only a couple of years ago was a dream.
The match will feature the Bogota Bullants up against the DC Aguilas. The Bogota Bombers missed out on reaching the big day, yet remained a highly competitive third team, even downing the Bullants along the way.
AFL Colombia president, Paddy Smallwood, previews the match.
“The grand final should be a solid affair. The D.C Aguilas are coming in favourites off three wins on the trot, and the Bullants' last game being the bloodbath [against the Bombers]. The Aguilas team has been a consistent group all year, which has allowed the drastic improvement of their fleet of Colombian guns.”