Premierships are never won mid-season, and any team already planning their celebrations should hold onto their deposit a little longer. But it is fair to say that once a habit of winning gets a hold, clubs are right to capitalise on it to the maximum - and that is roughly where the Belfast Redbacks currently sit in the AFL Ireland competition.
The competition has reached the mid-point and all clubs still have a point to prove and dreams to realise.
After a dour struggle with the South Dublin Swans on the weekend, the Redbacks held on to make it five wins from five starts for the 2018 season. Their seven-point victory has set up a great chance to aim for an undefeated season – a step up from winning as many games as possible. It was a tough and tight affair, and the Swans gave themselves every chance of pulling off an upset. But in the end, the Belfast crew held their nerve to win.
In the only match for Round 6 in the AFLG competition in Germany last weekend, the league’s newest team – the Württemberg Giants – have enjoyed their second win of the season, upsetting the Frankfurt Redbacks by nine points at home.
It took a huge last quarter from the Giants, with the Redbacks having led the match at every change. The match was tight from the outset with the Redbacks holding an eight-point lead at quarter-time and just five points at the main break. At the final change, it was still a goal separating the teams. However, a three goal to one burst from the Giants in the final quarter saw them home in a great game.
Final Score: Württemberg Giants 11 13 79 d Frankfurt Redbacks 10 10 70
The Manchester Mozzies’ relentless surge towards another AFLCNE premiership took further power surge on the weekend when the reigning champions crushed the Merseyside Saints in Wolverhampton. Whilst premierships are never won mid-season, they are certainly prepared for and aimed for across the season. The Mozzies 30-goal win proved that they have the drive to push as hard as they can and the talent to go with that desire.
The loss continued a tough season for the Merseyside Saints. Realistically, it was always going to be a tough ask for them in 2018. With teams like the Sheffield Thunder and Tyne Tees Tigers missing, it left next to no highly possible victories. Again, the club is in a new learning phase and the latest effort against the Mozzies has to be seen as a practical learning session rather than some sort of setback.
The dominance of the Mozzies gives them huge benefits in experimenting and trialling ideas for later, resting players where necessary, planning tactics to meet particular situations and generally getting on to of all the little things that make a premiership.
The Kingdom Kangaroos moved another step closer to a finals berth on the weekend when they downed the Greater Glasgow Giants by two goals in wet conditions at home in Kirkcaldy. The win puts them in prime position to hold on to third place come finals time and wait for the vagaries of finals football to determine their future.
The defeat for the Giants puts them in an unwanted but nonetheless unique position. They remain winless at the base of the ladder with only a mathematical chance of finals action. Worse, they are perilously close to dropping from premiers to wooden spoon in the space of a single season. They will be desperate for that to not occur, but the reality is there and it isn’t totally in their hands to avert that outcome.
After five rounds of the AFL London season, the Men’s Premiership Division has a logjam for top two places come finals time. The North London Lions are keeping pace with the Wandsworth Demons and West London Wildcats in the battle for top spot. It is a battle that will intensify over the second half of the season as teams set themselves up for the best chance of a premiership.
Weekend results saw the Lions thump the Hawks by 108 points, whilst the Demons were equally brutal against the Swans with a 100-point demolition. The West London Wildcats watched on, aware that they have two quality opponents to deal with. Next weekend they get their turn to consolidate further when they take on the Wimbledon Hawks.
In the match of the round next weekend, the North London Lions will host the Wandsworth Demons. The winner will take a huge points and psychological advantage into the next phase of the season.
The Zagreb Cvjetno Dockers have taken the honours for the opening round of the CEAFL (Central European Australian Football League) tournament for 2018, held over the weekend in Zagreb. After an enthralling day’s action, the Dockers held off the Velika Gorica Bombers in the final to head the ladder after the first of two tournaments – the other to be played later in the year in Prague in the Czech Republic.
The Dockers topped their pool after the initial two matches per side before winning their semi-final. The Bombers had a rockier road, but still managed to win their way to the final. The Zagreb Hawks downed the Sesvete Double Blues to take third place. The Styrian DownUnderdogs from Austria defeated the Prague Dragons by a solitary point in a thrilling battle for fifth and sixth places on the day.
Billed as the match of the season to date prior to the ball being bounced, the clash between the Hamburg Dockers and the Berlin Crocs promised plenty. The clash between the reigning premiers and the undefeated Dockers delivered in spades with the Crocs holding on for a one-point victory.
It was a win against the odds in many ways for the Crocs. Travelling to Hamburg to meet the Dockers on their home soil would have been tough enough, but the fact that the Dockers sat undefeated gave them an air of not invincibility, but certainly strength.
The Crocs started well, however, and jumped early to a 33 to 16 quarter time lead. The Dockers came back at them in the second quarter to reduce the margin to just nine points by the main break, the Crocs still leading 46 to 37. The question would be whether the Crocs could capitalise on their narrow first half lead.
Finals time is still some distance away, but both the Glasgow Sharks and Edinburgh Bloods made statements this weekend that they plan to be there come grand final day and that they are a cut above the rest. Big wins for each team this round have also seen them break free of the pack with a big three game win/loss break that will be difficult for other contenders to close.
The Kingdom Kangaroos were desperate for a big performance in front of their home crowd at Beveridge Park. A win would have kept them deep in the battle for a top two place, and with scores almost locked at three-quarter time the Roos were on the way to an upset. However, the Bloods turned on the power in the final quarter to run away with a commanding 41-point win.
Riley Brettell from AFL Europe reports on their website www.afleurope.org of the announcement that London will be the host of the 2019 European Championships.
AFL Europe is thrilled to now be able to confirm the details for 2019’s premier international 18-a-side tournament, to be held in London from the 9th-12th October.
The three-day event will bring together international sides from around Europe for the continents feature triennial football showpiece, to be hosted by Great Britain in conjunction with the Wimbledon Hawks Football Club and AFL Europe.
Great Britain Head Coach, Dean Thomas, says that the 2019 Championships shape to be the most keenly contested and anticipated footy event in Europe to date.
“London is the hub of footy in Europe and a fantastic city to be entertained in, and the European Championships are a must do event for any nation that harbours ambitions of playing in and doing well at the International Cup in 2020,” Thomas said.
After a brief hiatus, ‘Good Week/Bad Week’ is back and ready to take a look at the latest round of fixtures across England. The leagues are really starting to hot up, so let’s see who’s in contention as we approach the halfway stage of the season.
The Manchester Mosquitoes once again look like the team to beat in the Central & Northern England league. After racking up 130+ points against the Huddersfield Rams and the Nottingham Scorpions, the Mozzies were restricted to just over half that against the Wolverhampton Wolverines this weekend. However, they still extended their record to 3-0 as they won 11.18.84 to 6.10.46 in tricky conditions.