The saying goes that if you look a shark in the eye, all you see is a cold, calculating, lifeless stare in return. Just why you would want to look a shark in the eye is an entirely different matter. However, the Kingdom Kangaroos did just that last weekend when they took on the Glasgow Sharks.
Already suffering from a lack of preferred player numbers on the day, things got worse for the Kangaroos as injuries to those still standing decimated their list. But this is where the Sharks were at their predatory best. Premierships are not about being the “nice guy”. They are built around the 100% commitment of every player for the full four quarters, week in week out. And, that is as it should be.
The Roos kept fighting, but their adversary was just too good and took every advantage available to them as they built towards another flag. Whilst there is plenty that the Roos can rue after the game, they can also take heart that some of the problems they encountered on the weekend are rectifiable and a full list come finals time will see a vastly different herd of kangaroos in the paddock.
Michael Ryan reports on the St Kilda website about the debut for another young Irish talent with Darragh Joyce playing for the Saints in their exciting win against the Melbourne Demons. In a solid first game, Darragh had 10 possessions. Wearing #39, the new Irish Saint also contributed a creditable team-oriented five one percenters and also kicked a behind. It was a promising start and a great platform on which to build his future.
As a fresh-faced 19-year-old, Darragh Joyce uprooted his life and left his family in Ireland to pursue an unlikely dream, and it will all be worth it when he runs out in the red, white and black for his AFL debut this Sunday.
It started with a simple email, then a kick in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, followed by a 17,300km journey to the other side of the world, and now finally, the Irishman gets his chance on the big stage.
The SEAFL (Southern England AFL) competition is heading towards the business end of the season and the Southampton Titans are sitting on top of the ladder with one big goal in mind. “This year we are looking to win the flag and become the first team in the history of the league to win back to back premierships.” It is a significant piece of history they are seeking, but they are enjoying a great year.
According to the club ahead of this weekend’s SEWARFL fixture, “the main highlights so far have been making a strong start in the league and strengthening our relationship with St Jude’s Gaelic football team.”
It is a big opportunity for the Titans, but more importantly, it has been a season of progress for the league.
Mick Tierney from the Sussex Swans, and president of the SEAFL, has seen the changes to the league and how exciting the future might be. “The SEAFL has currently got three clubs (Sussex Swans, Southampton Titans and Portsmouth Pirates) but we’re hoping to revive some clubs which folded over the last few years.”
It has been a big day out for the Wandsworth Demons last weekend. With only three matches scheduled for the completion of Round 4 (commenced late May/early June), the Demons came away as winners in each. It was also a tough day at the office for the Wimbledon Hawks, with their teams going down to the rampant Demons by big margins in each grade.
The Men’s Premiership match saw the Wandsworth Demons far too good for the Wimbledon Hawks. The Demons showed their intensity from the outset and extended the lead at each break before cruising to a percentage boosting 121-point win. As the finals get closer, percentage could well be a factor in deciding final placings.
In the Women’s Premiership match, the Demons were just as ruthless against the Hawks, recording a powerful 85-point victory. The Demon’s Social team, the South Park Demons, managed to gallop away to a 99-point victory.
In a huge day for the Huddersfield Rams, their 177-point victory over the Merseyside Saints in Liverpool has breathed new life into their season. Going into the round, the Rams would have been confident of a win, but it would have to be a big win to bridge the percentage gap if they still have faint hopes of a top two finish. It was.
Whilst the Manchester Mozzies have cleared well ahead of the pack with five wins for the season and undefeated, the battle for second place and other finals spots is tighter with percentage only separating the Wolverines, Rams and Scorpions.
The Rams were out of the blocks early and stayed there, playing a relentless brand of footy to completely shut out the Saints. As the margin continued to grow, the Rams’ confidence would have also as they saw their season get right back on the tracks as they ran riot across the park.
Last week the Württemberg Giant were celebrating a win against the Frankfurt Redbacks. On the weekend, they were brought back to earth by a rampant Munich Kangaroos team, going down by 124 points. The result wasn’t a surprise to either team, but the margin was bigger than the Giants would have hoped. However, with jostling for top four positions intensifying ahead of the finals, top teams are very aware of how important percentage will become.
Most teams have only two more matches left, and the top three teams – the Kangaroos, Hamburg Dockers and Berlin Crocs – will be locked in a tight battle. Teams in their way are sure to feel the heat as the top three start to flex their muscle. Certainly, that is what happened to the Giants.
Similarly, the Rheinland Lions – also last start winners against the Dresden Wolves – were stopped in their tracks by a Hamburg Dockers outfit that was both on the rebound from their narrow last start loss to the Berlins Crocs and also intent on ensuring their percentage stays healthy enough to stay ahead of their competitors.
It isn’t often that Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” is applied to football, but it probably applies far more often than we might think. A perfect example of that is the Edinburgh Bloods big win over the West Lothian Eagles by 129 points on the weekend. Einstein would be proud.
To paraphrase physics, ‘The speed of light in a vacuum [West Lothian Eagles development] is the same for all observers, regardless of their relative motion or of the motion of the light source [Edinburgh’s victory]”. Admittedly, a tenuous comparison, but there was much more good in the Eagles’ defeat than bad, and that is taking nothing away from the well drilled performance by the Bloods.
In a match that was another fully-fledged development game for the Eagles and had no bearing on the SARFL ladder, the result was almost irrelevant. The new kids on the block were playing the second placed, experienced club on their own home ground. You don’t need science to predict he result.
Ahead of next Round 6 round of the SAFF (Stockholm Australian Football Federation) 2018 season, a three-way battle looms for dominance heading to the finals series. The Södermalm Blues sit at the top of the ladder on three wins, as do the Solna Axemen and Norrtälje Dockers – each only separated by percentage.
The only team sitting off the pace at this stage are the winless Årsta Swans. Whilst the Swans and the Blues have played one less game than the Axemen and Dockers to date, the makeup of final positions will be determined by the final round of the season.
Next round the Axemen meet the Swans. The clash between the Blues and the Dockers has been rescheduled. For the top three teams, victory is essential. Top place after the regular season comes with the reward of an extra week off to prepare for the grand-final. For the Swans, they can still finish their season on a high, starting with an upset against the Axemen.
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.