The Manchester Mozzies and Nottingham Scorpions have once again made it through to the 2017 AFLCNE Grand Final to be played next weekend. But whilst the Mozzies downed the Rams and the Scorpions defeated the Wolverines to reach the final weekend of the season proper, the Merseyside Saints almost upstaged everyone with their win over the Sheffield Thunder.
The Saints haven’t won many matches since their introduction to the AFLCNE roster. They have endured some fearful hidings as part of their learning curve. Yet that is what makes their win on the weekend so important and so sweet. By downing the Thunder in the semi-final of the Plate they can now challenge the Tyne Tees Tigers next weekend for a chance at some real silverware for their display case. The final score of Saints 17 5 107 to Thunder 7 7 49 was a great reward for belief and perseverance for the club and they can go into next weekend’s Plate final as a genuine outside chance to win.
The Manchester Mozzies, Nottingham Scorpions, Wolverhampton Wolverines and Huddersfield Rams have reached the finals of the AFLCNE competition in England after last weekend’s final round – the Lightning Premiership played in Nottingham. The Mozzies were minor premiers again and will be favourites for yet another flag, but the other teams can also smell glory and will most certainly reach for the stars from here.
The Tyne Tees Tigers were unlucky not to reach the finals. They needed to effectively win two more matches than the Rams on the day to pass them, and started well by downing the Rams in their first match of the day to draw level on the season’s ladder. But from there both teams struggled to match the league’s big guns, with the Tigers missing finals action by percentage only.
Conor Glass is set to become the first Irish International rookie to play for Hawthorn. Following on from New Zealander Kurt Heatherley becoming the Hawk's first International recruit to play in the AFL, Glass will run out for the Hawks against Fremantle on Saturday night Melbourne time (Live on ESPN - BT Sport Saturday @ 10:00am BST).
In a battle befitting first versus second on the ladder – and very possibly a grand final preview – the Edinburgh Bloods ensured they would play finals by bringing down the previously undefeated Greater Glasgow Giants. In a season that has seen many games go down to the wire, the Bloods held their nerve to claim a 110 to 102 victory.
The Giants had already claimed the first finals berth due to their previously undefeated reign at the top of the SARFL ladder. It was a game which the Giants could probably afford to lose in some respects – better a loss now and galvanise for finals – but they would still be disappointed at giving the Bloods a psychological edge so close to finals time.
Just when the script appeared to be settled after Round 8 results, along comes Round 9 with some new plot twists to shake up the competition with just one home and away round to go. The West London Wildcats were locked in a battle for top spot, until the North London Lions defeated them. Of equal significance – or greater depending on your point of view – was the London Swans efforts to defeat the Wimbledon Hawks and usurp them in the top four.
The Lions hosted the Wildcats and in a tough and close match it was the ions that found the little bit extra to get them over the lie by just nine points. Granted the result could have been greater had the Lions kicked straight, but they did enough to keep their heads in front at the final siren – and that’s what counts. The final score saw the North London Lions 7 16 58 defeat the West London Wildcats 7 7 49.
The final matches of the AFLCNE home and away season will be played this weekend in Nottingham when the Scorpions host the third and final Lightning Round. The matches will determine the final placings for the season before the finals series over the last two weekends in July.
Whilst there is interest in which team will finish on top of the ladder – currently the Mozzies are two points and a big percentage ahead of the Scorpions – it is the battle for the last finals place which will have the league buzzing. Currently the Huddersfield Rams hold fourth place ahead of the Tyne Tees Tigers. Should the Tigers win enough games in Nottingham to pass the Rams it will be an historic event. It would mark the first finals campaign for the Tyne Tees Tigers. It will be a tall order, playing against the Rams, Mozzies and Wolverines, but they will throw everything at the chance.
The AFL is pleased to announce a collaboration with Thomas & Friends in an international first for the two brands.
The collaboration will see four short episodes produced, centred around the AFL and following Thomas and his friends on their Australian adventures with the first episode to be released today, Wednesday July 12.
Two AFL superstars will voice characters in the four short episodes, with former Richmond Tiger Matthew Richardson starring as Shane the Train, an Australian character introduced in the last Thomas & Friends movie ‘The Great Race’ and Brisbane Lions AFLW player Sabrina Frederick-Traub as Tracy the Melbourne Tram.
Ireland is significant as one of the first European nations to have adopted the sport of Aussie rules. However, footy has never enjoyed significantly broad popularity in the country due to the dominance of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), which overseas the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, handball, and Gaelic football.
Gaelic football — by far the largest Irish spectator sport — has several similarities to Aussie rules, which have been well-documented over the years. The primary differences are the number of players, the size and shape of the ball and pitch, and the fact that Gaelic football is not full-contact.
Irish interest in footy was most likely initially sparked in 1967 during the Australian Football World Tour, which played a couple of test matches in Dublin. The hybrid sport of international rules football (a combination of Aussie rules and Gaelic football) has its roots in the World Tour. In addition, many Gaelic footballers have given Aussie rules a shot since the 1980s, primarily due to the lure of a quality salary; the Gaelic games are only played at an amateur level in Ireland.
The Leeside Lions and the Belfast Redbacks were the big winners at last weekend’s ARFLI carnival, hosted by the Redbacks at their home ground at the Boucher Road playing Fields. Both teams won both of their matches, and in the process the Lions have locked in a home final for the second year in a row after finishing the home and away season on top of the ladder.
That result certainly means that the Lions will firm even further for premiership favouritism.
The results of the weekend matches saw:
Belfast Redbacks 7 6 48 d South Dublin Swans 1 2 8
Belfast Redbacks 6 9 45 d Galway Magpies 1 4 10
Leeside Lions 7 5 47 d South Dublin Swans 1 10 16
Leeside Lions 10 8 68 d Galway Magpies 1 1 7
One of the great thing about competitions with smaller amounts of teams is that every match has the capacity to impact the whole competition. Such is the case with the last round results for the SARFL competition in Scotland. The Glasgow Sharks went into the game without a win for 2017. The Kingdom Kangaroos were sitting second looking to consolidate that position.
The Edinburgh Bloods looked on from afar with keen interest, while the Greater Glasgow Giants watch all those below them fight and jostle. In the end it was the Glasgow Sharks that enjoyed their first win of the season, after a number of unlucky close shaves. But their win at home against the Kingdom Kangaroos – 147 to 74 - has ramifications for the whole competition.