With finals just a couple of weeks away for the AFL London season, their two biggest guns – the Wandsworth Demons and West London Wildcats – flexed their muscle in a big way in their Round 9 matches. The two teams had already locked away first and second place, but the size of the wins on the weekend has again changed the order.
The Demons were far too good for the Wimbledon Hawks, trouncing them by 172 points and gaining yet another big percentage boost. The Wildcats won their match by a compelling 123 points, yet conceded top spot in an unusual quirk of the game. It is not a remarkable thing for a small percentage to separate first from second place. It is very unusual, however, for the top side (Demons) to have a percentage of 329.4% and be narrowly ahead of second place (Wildcats) on 325.8%.
However, such has been their dominance this season, with just one round to play, they are even on points and only a couple of goals different on for and against. It is difficulty now to pick which of the two teams is flag favourite with just on round left to play before finals.
It wasn’t the first time that Aliir Aliir and Majak Daw had played against each other. Early in their careers they occasionally lined up on each other, including their first time at the highest AFL level in August 2016 (see A Glimpse Into An African Future) down in Hobart. But almost two years on, both have moved further into their careers and after yesterday’ thriller at Etihad Stadium, both have gathered even more spotlight.
Aliir Aliir and Majak Daw were lined up on each other for three quarters at Etihad yesterday. Both have had to re-establish themselves at the highest level. Aliir from injury and indifferent form across 2017 and early 2018, whilst Daw had reinvented himself for much of this season as a Kangaroo defender.
However, on the weekend, they were back in their former roles – Aliir the powerful defender and Daw the athletic forward. For three quarters both dazzled and entertained in a power struggle within a bigger struggle as the Roos and Swans remained within touch of each other. Then Aliir got loose up forward for the Swans and kicked the match-winning goal in a thrilling finish. Aliir’s effort sent Swans fans into delirium and Roo fans despair. On the day Daw on the statistical battle with four goals. Aliir’s single goal won the match.
It has taken three years on the Sydney Swans list and a journey from the other side of the globe, but 22-year old Irishman, Colin O’Riordan, made his AFL debut in a drama charged clash against the North Melbourne Kangaroos. Holding his own in the cauldron-like atmosphere of Etihad Stadium, the product of Tipperary, Ireland, signalled another Irish success story in the AFL.
In a game about which he “had no clue” about as a kid back in Killea, O’Riordin roamed the defensive zone or the Swans gathering 17 disposals at an efficiency rate of 81%, took seven marks (one contested) and laid five tackles. His five rebounds from defensive 50 set up scoring opportunities for the Swans and his four one-percenters showed a deep understanding of a team-based game. On pure statistics, O’Riordan was one of the Swans most efficient players in a very tight and at times frenzied contest.
AFL Canada has been looking to increase it's international competitiveness by increasing the number of representative fixtures and the Canadian Nationals are the latest step up from the inter-provincial games held prior to the 2017 International Cup. AFL Canada has also taken development teams to England as earlier preparation.
This hasn't gone unnoticed south of the border where the USAFL is taking a team to Ireland this year and has been holding annual national tournaments. The following report on the Canadian Nationals is from Zachery Brandstater, Président of AFL Québec. WFN thanks Zachery for his effort in producing this report.
Pic: Rob Colburn.
The Canadian Nationals tournament is an opportunity for the various entities within AFL Canada to get together and play some high quality football. AFL Canada restricts eligibility for this tournament to only those who would be eligible for the Canadian national team. As it stands British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Québec all support leagues in their own right so there is plenty of football across the country (over 5000 participants in 2017, including youth football programs). This network of grass roots football is contributing to a strong football identity in Canada, and it is continuing to gain momentum.
It seems like just a few weeks ago when the DC Aguilas defeated the Bogota Bullants to win the inaugural AFL Colombia premiership. In fact, it was. However, the format for the first season of competition in Colombia sees two mini seasons within the one calendar year, and part two is about to get under way.
The competitions in Colombia are very heavily built around the growth of the national team – the Bogota Bulldogs. The first season (completed just a month ago) saw the drafting of local and ex-pat talent to the three local clubs (Aguilas, Bullants and Bombers) to form a national competition where players could develop and the best would be selected to represent the nation in the Bogota Bulldogs team.
The Bulldogs will fight to retain The Andes Cup against the Santiago Saints from Chile mid-way through this next season. There is also the chance to play in an 18 per side match at season’s end and possibly play in another yet to be defined international match, so performances across this second AFL Colombia season will be important.
Our AFL Asia correspondent Yoshi reviews the IMPACT Invitational Cup Tournament held last weekend in Osaka.
On Saturday, July 7th, the Osaka Dingoes created club history by hosting two international teams as well as 2 Tokyo based AFL clubs for our first ever IMPACT Invitational Cup Tournament held at the Canadian Academy in Kobe. It was the first time for the club to invite international footy clubs.
It had rained heavily in the Kansai Region the previous two days before the tournament and travel chaos occurred the day before causing train and bus services to be cancelled. Even I got a weather warning about the landslides around my apartment on Thursday night. An evacuation order was made by the Kyoto City Council that sent me to a nearby former primary school building for a sleepover.
Both the England Dragonslayers and Vixens have named their squads for October’s 2018 Euro Cup in Cork. Following an intensive selection, both sides will be looking to retain the titles they won last year in Bordeaux, and have named squads bursting with talent ahead of the tournament later this year.
England Dragonslayers captain Matt Whiteley says that there are “match winners in every position” in the squad. “After coming through two selection events the squad is made up of a good blend of experience and newcomers,” he continued. “Every player has a massive part to play in the retention of the Euro Cup.”
With just two rounds left to play before the AFL London finals begin, the West London Wildcats have announced their intentions to capture the flag. Their two goal win against the Wandsworth Demons sees them now sitting on top of the ladder, but with a significant psychological advantage.
It has been a tight contest for much of the year between the Wildcats, Demons and to a lesser degree the North London Lions. But, as the business end of the season has approached, the Lions have fallen off the pace somewhat, leaving the Demons out in front just ahead of the Wildcats. Now that has changed.
In terms of ladder position, the Demons will probably reclaim top spot, with their remaining matches against the Swans and Hawks likely wins. The Wildcats play the Swans before a bye. However, ladder position means little in big matches – form does.
After a great weekend for the Galway Magpies in Belfast, they now sit in second place on the AFL Ireland ladder. As a result of enjoying two wins for the day against the Leeside Lions and South Dublin Swans, the Magpies have joined the Lions on three wins for the year, but have just inched ahead of for and against. It puts the Magpies in a great position to fight for second place after the final rounds of matches are completed.
The Magpies turned their season around dramatically after downing the Swans by 20 points before taking on the Lions and inflicting a 70-point hiding on the reigning premiers.
It was also a huge day for the host team, the Belfast Redbacks. Having won both of their matches on the day, the Redbacks now sit undefeated for the season with seven wins. Finals are always a different beast, but the Redbacks have displayed an air of invincibility this season and will enter the final round and finals series as raging hot favourites for the 2018 flag.
Just a couple of rounds ago the Nottingham Scorpions had forfeited a match and were sitting in second last position on the AFLCNE ladder. Fast forward to last weekend and, courtesy of a forfeit by the Merseyside Saints and a tough win the week before against the highly fancied Wolverhampton Wolverines, the Scorpions are looking set to be the Manchester Mozzies biggest obstacle.
According to the AFLCNE, “with two rounds to go Manchester have won the minor premiership and look on course to retain the flag. However, with Nottingham strengthening their ranks recently they [the Mozzies] may not have it all their own way.”
Should they get through to the grand-final, the Scorpions would set up a third consecutive clash for premiership honours. After defeating the Wolverines two weeks ago in a tight battle by just 11-points, the Scorpions have reaffirmed their standing as the most likely challenger – though the race is far from over.
It was a day to remember in Northern France on Saturday, when the inaugural Robert MacTier Cup took place in Péronne to mark 100 years since soldiers liberated the town from German occupation in 1918.
On a weekend that meant much more than just a football contest to all involved, players, officials and supporters embraced the friendly community to honour the heroics that took place in the small town all those years ago.
Arriving on Friday, many players took the bus from London crossing the French border before arriving in Péronne for the jumper presentation at the local Town Hall.