With finals just a couple of weeks away for the AFL London season, their two biggest guns – the Wandsworth Demons and West London Wildcats – flexed their muscle in a big way in their Round 9 matches. The two teams had already locked away first and second place, but the size of the wins on the weekend has again changed the order.
The Demons were far too good for the Wimbledon Hawks, trouncing them by 172 points and gaining yet another big percentage boost. The Wildcats won their match by a compelling 123 points, yet conceded top spot in an unusual quirk of the game. It is not a remarkable thing for a small percentage to separate first from second place. It is very unusual, however, for the top side (Demons) to have a percentage of 329.4% and be narrowly ahead of second place (Wildcats) on 325.8%.
However, such has been their dominance this season, with just one round to play, they are even on points and only a couple of goals different on for and against. It is difficulty now to pick which of the two teams is flag favourite with just on round left to play before finals.
It has taken three years on the Sydney Swans list and a journey from the other side of the globe, but 22-year old Irishman, Colin O’Riordan, made his AFL debut in a drama charged clash against the North Melbourne Kangaroos. Holding his own in the cauldron-like atmosphere of Etihad Stadium, the product of Tipperary, Ireland, signalled another Irish success story in the AFL.
In a game about which he “had no clue” about as a kid back in Killea, O’Riordin roamed the defensive zone or the Swans gathering 17 disposals at an efficiency rate of 81%, took seven marks (one contested) and laid five tackles. His five rebounds from defensive 50 set up scoring opportunities for the Swans and his four one-percenters showed a deep understanding of a team-based game. On pure statistics, O’Riordan was one of the Swans most efficient players in a very tight and at times frenzied contest.
Both the England Dragonslayers and Vixens have named their squads for October’s 2018 Euro Cup in Cork. Following an intensive selection, both sides will be looking to retain the titles they won last year in Bordeaux, and have named squads bursting with talent ahead of the tournament later this year.
England Dragonslayers captain Matt Whiteley says that there are “match winners in every position” in the squad. “After coming through two selection events the squad is made up of a good blend of experience and newcomers,” he continued. “Every player has a massive part to play in the retention of the Euro Cup.”
With just two rounds left to play before the AFL London finals begin, the West London Wildcats have announced their intentions to capture the flag. Their two goal win against the Wandsworth Demons sees them now sitting on top of the ladder, but with a significant psychological advantage.
It has been a tight contest for much of the year between the Wildcats, Demons and to a lesser degree the North London Lions. But, as the business end of the season has approached, the Lions have fallen off the pace somewhat, leaving the Demons out in front just ahead of the Wildcats. Now that has changed.
In terms of ladder position, the Demons will probably reclaim top spot, with their remaining matches against the Swans and Hawks likely wins. The Wildcats play the Swans before a bye. However, ladder position means little in big matches – form does.
After a great weekend for the Galway Magpies in Belfast, they now sit in second place on the AFL Ireland ladder. As a result of enjoying two wins for the day against the Leeside Lions and South Dublin Swans, the Magpies have joined the Lions on three wins for the year, but have just inched ahead of for and against. It puts the Magpies in a great position to fight for second place after the final rounds of matches are completed.
The Magpies turned their season around dramatically after downing the Swans by 20 points before taking on the Lions and inflicting a 70-point hiding on the reigning premiers.
It was also a huge day for the host team, the Belfast Redbacks. Having won both of their matches on the day, the Redbacks now sit undefeated for the season with seven wins. Finals are always a different beast, but the Redbacks have displayed an air of invincibility this season and will enter the final round and finals series as raging hot favourites for the 2018 flag.
Just a couple of rounds ago the Nottingham Scorpions had forfeited a match and were sitting in second last position on the AFLCNE ladder. Fast forward to last weekend and, courtesy of a forfeit by the Merseyside Saints and a tough win the week before against the highly fancied Wolverhampton Wolverines, the Scorpions are looking set to be the Manchester Mozzies biggest obstacle.
According to the AFLCNE, “with two rounds to go Manchester have won the minor premiership and look on course to retain the flag. However, with Nottingham strengthening their ranks recently they [the Mozzies] may not have it all their own way.”
Should they get through to the grand-final, the Scorpions would set up a third consecutive clash for premiership honours. After defeating the Wolverines two weeks ago in a tight battle by just 11-points, the Scorpions have reaffirmed their standing as the most likely challenger – though the race is far from over.
It was a day to remember in Northern France on Saturday, when the inaugural Robert MacTier Cup took place in Péronne to mark 100 years since soldiers liberated the town from German occupation in 1918.
On a weekend that meant much more than just a football contest to all involved, players, officials and supporters embraced the friendly community to honour the heroics that took place in the small town all those years ago.
Arriving on Friday, many players took the bus from London crossing the French border before arriving in Péronne for the jumper presentation at the local Town Hall.
It may have read a 64-point defeat on paper, but the weekend’s loss for the West Lothian Eagles against the powerhouse Glasgow Sharks could be their most telling sign of improvement. In their second last developmental game of their inaugural season, they achieved a competitive double – preventing the previously rampant Sharks from posting a cricket score and managing to find enough avenues to goal to have 21 scoring shots.
Often, a late season match against a premiership favourite for a team with no finals prospects has crime scene written all over it. However, the Eagles have plenty to play for and were determined not to be intimidated by the Sharks. When the dust settles at season’s end and the review of the Eagles’ development year begins, their competitiveness against all teams will be a key factor in their future.
They can rightfully go into their final match in two weeks’ time against the Tyne Tees Tigers with a very real prospect of finishing the season with a win.
This weekend in London, the annual London Pride Parade takes place and AFL London and its teams will be there in all the colours of the symbolic rainbow to celebrate. The clubs themselves have outdone themselves this year with a dazzling array of jumpers and club logos which represent the league’s and the club’s commitment to the LGBT community. The following article from AFL England at www.aflengland.orgdetails the event from the AFL London perspective. An exciting assortment of club logos can be found at the end of this article.
Each June, LGBT Pride Month attracts millions of participants around the world. AFL England wants to recognise and celebrate the part that LGBT people play in the footy community, both in England and around the world.
This year, AFL London will become the first AFL league to march in a pride parade, as they take part in the Pride in London festival on July 7th, with the weekend also being marked by a special ‘Rainbow Round’ of fixtures in the capital.
With the second round of the SEWARFL (combined Southern England and Welsh leagues) played on the weekend, the teams from the SEAFL enjoyed a successful day out at Southampton on a hot and largely cloud-free day. Aided by the inability of the Cardiff Panthers to attend, the “home” teams also managed to be ultra-competitive on the field as well.
The gap created by the missing Panthers meant that each of the SEAFL teams drawn to play them came away with a forfeit result, meaning three wins from three matches. That in itself would have been a valuable result for the Southampton Titans, Portsmouth Pirates and Sussex Swans, but better followed.
The opening match of the day saw the Chippenham Redbacks start in a positive way, downing the Sussex Swans by 30 points. It was an important win for the Redbacks in the context of their own season. Prior to this win, their best result had been a draw against the Titans in the opening SEWARFL tournament. This win will rejuvenate the team and become a foundation block for the rest of this year and beyond.