The opening round of the new 2018 AFL Ireland Premiership season was played over the weekend in Cork, hosted by the reigning premiers the Leeside Lions. The Lions immediately set about staking their claim for another title with two good wins, but it was also a big day for the Belfast Redbacks as they claimed two wins from the day.
The Leeside Lions have been the benchmark team in the competition, having won back to back flags in 2017 and 2018. With a balanced team that knows each other well, the Lions proved too good for the South Dublin Swans in the opening match before backing that result up with a hard fought win in a close match against the Galway Magpies.
The season is still young, and not all scenarios have been played out, but the Huddersfield Rams took another big step towards bigger things with their win over the Merseyside Saints. On face value, they have just one win from two games and their win was against the bottom-placed team. But digging deeper, there is a story in their results.
Their opening round loss to the Nottingham Scorpions was only by 15 points. They pushed the grand finalists from the past two seasons all the way, suggesting they have the steel to stand up to the best opposition. Come finals time, and they will most likely be there, the Rams would not fear the Scorpions. Their 82-point win against the Merseyside Saints on the weekend was just the response they needed to give - and did.
The Glasgow Sharks sent another strong message to the rest of their SARFL opponents on the weekend with a strong win against the Edinburgh Bloods in the battle of fierce rivals – geographically and historically. The win sees the Sharks gliding into top spot on the ladder after Round Three, having now downed the Bloods and the Giants in two impressive performances.
The final score saw the Glasgow Sharks 14 16 100 down the Edinburgh Bloods 10 11 71 to record a 29-point win on the road.
With two wins from two starts, the Sharks are off to a flyer. Their next match, against the Kingdom Kangaroos, could be season defining. Another win on the road will leave the Sharks in a very strong position before facing the Giants (away) and then three of the next four games at home (albeit, one of those is for no points against the Eagles – but the match practice still counts).
All of the preliminaries are now done for Léo Lagrange CNFA Premiership season. Now, in Toulouse on May 26th, the grand-final will go ahead with the Paris Cockerels to clash with the Cergy-Pontoise Coyotes. Whilst the Cockerels go into the big match as possible slight favourites, the Coyotes are super keen for a maiden title.
The Coyotes already had plenty of incentive to win their first premiership. Twice bundled out of the finals by the Paris teams, and losing their only other grand final appearance to the Cockatoos in 2015/16, the Coyotes want retribution. Now they have even more opportunity for revenge, with the opportunity to bring down the Cockerels in a second grand-final.
After three rounds of the AFLG (Germany) competition for 2018, the Hamburg Dockers find themselves a game clear on top of the ladder with each team having completed four games. The Dockers sit undefeated to date, though the Berlin Crocodiles and Munich Kangaroos are breathing down their necks a game behind.
The weekend saw round robins played in both Hamburg and Berlin. In Hamburg, the Dockers, Frankfurt Redbacks and Dresden Wolves contested two matches each. In Berlin, it was the Crocs, Roos and Württemberg Giants locked in their own three-way battle.
The VFLW competition got under way in Melbourne this weekend, and amongst other things it featured the debut of yet another AFL London player having made the journey to the other side of the world to live a dream. The selection of Isy Currenti for the Geelong Cats and Jessica Edwards for Collingwood brings to five the amount of women to have played in the AFL London competition and made it to either AFLW or VFLW lists.
As it stands, there are only the eight AFLW teams, but there are far more in the VFLW, and many of them will receive the necessary licensing and permission to become AFL teams over to next couple of seasons. It provides a very real pipeline for talented women across the world to follow – from their home league to VFLW to AFLW.
(Picture: Jessica Edwards in action for Collingwood)
The first of the CNFA semi-finals was played yesterday in Paris, with the two Paris Cocks teams – the Cockerels and Cockatoos – clashing for the right to go to the grand final in coming weeks. The result saw the Cockerels prove too strong for their sister club, ultimately taking the match by 33 points.
A tight first quarter saw the Cockerels with a narrow 2-point lead. The second quarter belonged to the Cockatoos as they restricted the Cockerels scoring whilst hitting the scoreboard frequently themselves. However, after half time, the Cockerels just shut down the Cockatoos scoring options as they continued to attack without mercy, eventually running away to a comfortable winning margin.
An historic round of football in Scotland saw two unexpected but refreshing results as both of the “new kids on the block” – the West Lothian Eagles and Tyne Tees Tigers – enjoyed tremendous debut victories in their new leagues. It sees a large broom sweep through the SARFL competition as the previous status quo of the league is under threat – in a very positive way for football.
The fact that the two new teams defeated last year’s grand finalists in their respective games cannot be underestimated.
The West Lothian Eagles are in a holding pattern for 2018. Their games this year do not count for premiership points – being development games for their entry in 2019 if all goes to plan on and off the field. Well, they have answered many questions already. To down last season’s runners-up in their opening match speaks volumes about their list of players and their off-field organisation to date. Their challenge now – with their debut win behind them – is to maintain the rage and keep performing.
The opening round of the AFL London season saw two convincing wins for the North London Lions and Wandsworth Demons. Both clubs have got away to the ideal start, and in the process sounded a warning to all other teams. Only three points separated them in last year’s grand final, with the Demons prevailing, and evidence after the opening round is that they could once again be headed to the big match in 2018.
The North London Lions hammered the London Swans, brutally racing to a 133-point win. It sees the Lions on top of the ladder with a very handy percentage boost that may come in handy later in the season. The Swans will be disappointed and have to regroup quickly for their next match.
On the one hand, the Wolverhampton Wolverines gave the Merseyside Saints a fearful mauling in their opening round clash. On the other, the Nottingham Scorpions played out a tough, tight slog against the Huddersfield Rams to get over the finish line. The contrasting results, however, mark the beginnings of some stories for each of the teams after just one round, hosted by the Huddersfield Rams.
Just what the Wolverines take from their 204-point victory over the Saints is problematic. Certainly, they won and won extremely well, but whether such a lopsided match prepares them for tougher upcoming assignments is yet to be determined. Players gained some goal kicking practice, the team put their training to the best possible use and played themselves into form and their percentage is off to a flyer. But, the question will stand as to whether or not their form against the Saints will be good enough for the Mozzies or Scorpions…or Rams, for that matter.