The upshot from the weekend’s round of matches in Galway for the AFL Ireland Premiership saw the Belfast Redbacks race to the top of the ladder, undefeated with four wins now from four matches. Both the Galway Magpies and South Dublin Swans recorded their first wins of the season, and the Leeside Lions stumbled, losing both of their Galway clashes.
The host team had one of those cardiac days. Their opening match against the Swans was extremely tight and could easily have gone either way. In the end, the locals outlasted the Swans by just one point in a thriller. It was a great start for the Magpies and saw them open their 2018 account with a win.
In the next game, the Magpies proved that the first win was no fluke as they fought and scrapped against the Belfast Redbacks. In another heart stopper, the ‘Pies went down to the Redbacks by just two points, despite having more scoring shots. It was certainly a good result for the Redbacks, keeping them undefeated.
Last weekend saw the St. Petersburg Cup tournament played in the Russian city. Whilst it was scheduled to feature the Lazy Koalas from Moscow in a three way draw – including the St. Petersburg Cats and the visiting Helsinki Heatseekers from Finland – the Koalas were not able to make the journey. Instead, the second St. Petersburg team, the Northern Tigers, took the field.
The opening match featured the two St.Petersburg teams, the Cats and Tigers, playing for the title of “best in the city”. The game lived up to that hype with the Cats holding a determined Tigers team at bay by just nine points.
The next clash saw the visiting Helsinki Heatseekers up against the Tigers. The Heatseekers have been the most powerful team in Finland for the past few seasons, and they brought all of their skill and knowledge to the field to record a big win. In the end it was a 49-point victory to the Finnish champs. It is unclear whether or not they arrived with any Estonians in tow, but those that took the field certainly had their “A” game with them.
A desperate Kingdom Kangaroos made the daunting journey south to Newcastle to take on the Tyne Tees Tigers and chase their first win of the season. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, only ten Roos made the journey to take on a near full-strength Tiger outfit. Not much fun stopping at one challenge when you can have so many more.
But the Roos embraced the day and in the end triumphed over a willing Tyne Tees team by 43 points. The Roos were desperate to get back on the winners list as finals will only see the top three teams involved. The Tigers showed at their last home match that the trip to Newcastle is fraught with danger for teams that are not completely switched on. The Giants found that out just a few weeks ago. The Roos, however, played for their season, rather than being deterred by a road trip.
Final Scores: Kingdom Kangaroos 19 18 132 d Tyne Tees Tigers 13 11 89
The Paris Cockerels have claimed the CNFA Leo Lagrange premiership for the 2017/18 season with a resounding 106-point victory against the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes. It is the Cockerels first flag since their 2014/15 season flag. For the Coyotes, it was a day to forget, and hopefully a catalyst for a determined effort next season to lift their first flag.
The game was put away in the opening quarter. The rampant Cockerels knew the value of a fast start and that is exactly how they went about it, peppering the goals for a 67-13 lead at the first break. It was a huge quarter and immediately placed the Coyotes under massive pressure to worry about closing the gap first, much less winning.
The second quarter was tight, and low scoring after the first quarter fireworks. The Coyotes defence held firm and with more accuracy they would have won the quarter. They didn’t and the Cockerels took the quarter narrowly to lead 80-24 at the main break.
After a shaky start to their season, the London Swans hit back with a strong 48-point victory against the Wimbledon Hawks in Round Three of the AFL London competition. After an opening round drubbing from the Lions and a bye last round, the Swans needed to turn around their season quickly and did so at the expense of an out of sorts Wimbledon.
The result may prove a catalyst for the Swans to push for a finals berth later in the season as they keep the Hawks at bay for now.
In the second match of the weekend, two of the heavyweights in the West London Wildcats and North London Lions fought out a tough, tight game. In the end it was the Wildcats holdout out for 1 12-point win to keep them close to the Wandsworth Demons. The match showcased both team’s determination and proved that little separates the top three teams. In the Women’s Premiership matches, the Demons and Lions both recorded big victories.
For two seasons, the Manchester Mozzies and Nottingham Scorpions have set the pace in the AFLCNE competition. Whilst, from time to time, other teams have shown signs of a challenge to their dominance, by grand final day both teams had proved they were a touch of class above the rest.
This season had seen the Wolverines off to a blistering start and the Rams playing well. But come last weekend, the Mozzies and Scorpions had risen above the early season cobwebs and announced that, in all likelihood, they will gain dominate the season.
In the weekend action in Manchester, the Nottingham Scorpions dished out an 89-point lesson to the Wolverhampton Wolverines whilst the Manchester Mozzies downed the Huddersfield Rams by 62 points. The victories have seemingly set in place a clear hierarchy – two clear favourites to challenge again, two worthy combatants on the next tier and the Merseyside Saints needing to turn their season around dramatically to challenge.
The next instalment of the St. Petersburg Cup will be played in the Russian city this weekend. Once a battle between the St. Petersburg Cats and the Lazy Koalas from Moscow, the 2018 tournament will also feature the Helsinki Heatseekers club from Finland in a genuine combination of Russian and Finnish talent.
As previously reported, the Helsinki team will travel by sea and road through Tallin, the capital city and major port in Estonia, and would not be averse to dragging along some local AFL Estonia talent for the event. (See AFL Estonia – More Than Just A Name)
After years of gradual development, mainly in Moscow then more recently in St. Petersburg, the game in Russia has now grown to support clubs in both cities as they play across the year for the pride of being Russia’s best. Not only do the Cats and Lazy Koalas provide two national level clubs, but each has sprouted smaller, localised feeder teams to grow local match practice. After years of groundwork, the game is now moving forward in a pleasing way.
The Edinburgh Bloods have come back hard after their last round loss, downing last season’s premiers the Greater Glasgow Giants on the road a week after going down to the Glasgow Sharks in a tight, tough match. The result gives the Bloods two wins from three starts this season and sets them up well for a run to the finals later in the season.
The loss for the Giants could prove disastrous, in terms of defending their title, as they are now winless after their own first three matches. They face an uphill battle now to keep up with the pacesetters and will need a big change of fortune in coming weeks. Given that the new format with five teams (not including the Eagles) means two teams can miss finals altogether, the pressure is mounting for the Giants to at least get some momentum.
AFL Sweden is currently gearing up for their 2018 Swedish Cup, this year to be played at the Limhamnsfältet in Malmö and hosted by the Port Malmö Maulers club. Hopes are high for the event to feature SAFF (Swedish Australian Football Federation) clubs – the Södermalm Blues, Solna Axemen, Årsta Swans and Norrtälje Dockers.
It is also hoped that the Olso Crows club from Norway will make the journey to compete as well as players from other Swedish clubs from the south in the Göteborg Berserkers, Eksjo Bulldogs, Port Malmö Maulers – a Swedish team playing in the DAFL (Danish Australian Football League) - and Helsingborg Saints. Even if these clubs cannot be there in their entirety, combined teams will be put together.
Grand Final day for the AFL London competition wasn’t very long ago and fresh in most people’s minds would be the titanic struggle which saw the Wandsworth Demons hold off a desperate North London Lions by just three points in a low scoring match.
Fast forward to Round Two of the 2018 AFL London Premiership season. Once again these two teams played out a breathlessly tight match. This time, the Demons held off the Lions by just seven points. Optimistic Demon fans could point out that the result was more than twice as big as last time. But most are more realistic and realise that the score-line suggests that nothing much, still, separates these two teams. Should they met in a grand final again, the Lions know they are close, but still have to find something extra.