PSS Presents: Around the Grounds

Each week AFL Europe will take a look around the continent at the Australian Football highlights and thrilling matches. This Around the Grounds article delves into the standout performances from the weekend’s action and is presented by PSS International Removals.

WEST LONDON WILDCATS WIN LONDON PREMIERSHIP

After 11 weeks of football, the AFL London Men’s Premiership concluded on Saturday as the West London Wildcats played the Wandsworth Demons in the Grand Final at Hackney Marshes. With the rivalry between the two clubs going back to the start of the AFL London competition, this was always going to be a physical, fast contest but after quarter time, the Wildcats started to dominate by playing the football that saw them go through the whole season undefeated. While the battle for the contested footy was reasonably even, the Demons couldn’t match the Wildcat’s clearance work and ability to move the ball quickly through the middle as the lead extended to 36 points at half time. The Demon’s got back on the scoreboard in the third quarter, with a goal and a behind, but the Wildcats kicked further away, scoring a further three goals to lead by 51 points at the final change. As both teams started to tire in the humid conditions, the game opened up in the final quarter but the Demon’s couldn’t close the gap as the Wildcats ran away with the game to win by 70-points and take home the 2019 Men’s Premiership. The Men’s Premiership rounded off an action-packed day of Grand Finals, as the Wandsworth Demons won their fifth social premiership in a row, defeating the Ealing Emu’s by eight points. In the Men’s Conference, the Shepherds Bush Raiders finished off their season in style with yet another Grand Final win as they defeated a gallant Wimbledon Hawks by 26 points.

Final Scores (AFL London)

Men’s Premiership: West London Wildcats (14. 8. 92) defeated Wandsworth Demons (3. 4. 22).
Men’s Conference: Shepherds Bush Raiders (10. 9. 69) defeated Wimbledon Hawks (6. 7. 43).
Men’s Socials: Wandsworth Demons (2. 12. 24) defeated Ealing Emus (1. 10. 16).

 

THRID TIME’S A CHARM FOR NORTH LONDON LIONS

After finishing as runners-up in both 2016 and 2018, the North London Lions have won their first-ever AFL London Women’s Premiership by defeating the Wandsworth Demons in a nail-biter on Saturday. The Demon’s had gone through the regular season undefeated and were looking to win their third flag win a row, but the Lions had other ideas. After a tight opening quarter, where both teams dominated in defence, the scores were tied and it wasn’t until the second quarter that either side managed to gain a slender lead with the Lions up by a point at half-time. The Lions had more of the play in the third quarter, as they extended their lead to four points at the last break. In the final quarter, the Lions kicked a crucial goal to lead by 10 points late in the game, but a quick reply from the Demon’s meant the margin was back to just four points with a couple of minutes remaining. The Demon’s gave it everything, but the Lions held strong to win their first-ever women’s premiership by four points in a thrilling conclusion to the match. While the Lions won their first women’s premiership this weekend, last weekend saw the London Swans also win their first-ever premiership as a club as they won by 56 points against the Wandsworth Demon’s in the Women’s Conference.

Final Scores (AFL London Women’s)

Women’s Premiership: North London Lions (1. 4. 10) defeated Wandsworth Demons (1. 0. 6).
Women’s Conference: London Swans (6. 20. 56) defeated Wandsworth Demons (0. 0. 0).

 

SHARKS WIN BATTLE FOR GRAND FINAL SPOT

After last week’s battle between the Glasgow Sharks and Edinburgh Bloods secured top spot for the Sharks, this weeks rematch had a Grand Final place and two weeks off for the winner. Both sides have been evenly matched and hard to separate from the start of the season when Edinburgh won the opening fixture by 11 points. The Sharks turned that around as they won the final game of the home-and-away season by 19 points, and it was the Sharks who continued their form into this week in the qualifying final. This game was played in a typical style for finals, with the intensity, physicality and pace going up more than the regular season, and that intensity showed on the scoreboard as both defences enjoyed more dominance compared to their previous fixtures. It was an even game throughout, but the Sharks managed to get ahead at key stages of the match and hold on to that lead as their endurance helped them maintain a healthy margin as they went on to record a 25 point victory and a spot in the Grand Final on the 24th of August. For the Bloods, this result means they will get another chance to reach the Grand Final, as they will play the Tyne Tees Tigers in the Preliminary Final in two weeks time on the 17th of August.

Final Scores (AFL Scotland)

Men’s: Glasgow Sharks (96) defeated Edinburgh Bloods (71).

 

TYNE TEES TIGERS TARGET GRAND FINAL PLACE

In the other AFL Scotland finals game, the Tyne Tees Tigers played the Glasgow Giants in the Elimination Final. In comparison, this match was more free-flowing as a total of 33 goals were kicked. However, the majority of those goals were scored by the Tigers as they controlled most of the game as they went on to win their first ever finals match. Earlier in the season, these two sides played out a close thriller as the Giants won by nine points, but this game was a massive reversal of that result as the Giants struggled to deal with the Tigers midfield and attack in their forward-50. The Tigers scored 26 goals for the match, with six players kicking majors, while the Giants struggled to get the ball into their forward line as they kicked seven goals.  For the Tigers, Connor Robinson kicked nine goals, while teammate Anthony Roy Brannigan kicked seven and David Hodgson kicked five on the way to a commanding 120 point win for the Tigers, who will now face the Edinburgh Bloods in the Preliminary Final on the 17th of August. For the Giants, that concludes their season as they just couldn’t match their opponents on the day as they will regroup and will look ahead to what next season may bring for the club.

Final Scores (AFL Scotland)

Men’s: Tyne Tees Tigers (26. 17. 173) defeated Glasgow Giants (7. 11. 53).

 

GIANTS SHOW THAT GOOD KICKING IS GOOD FOOTBALL

As the Australian Football cliché goes, good kicking is good football, and on the weekend the Copenhagen Giants showed just that as the DAFL returned from it’s summer break. Up against the Odense Lions in a key battle for finals places, the Giants were impressive with their accuracy in front of goal, kicking 10 goals from their 16 scoring shots. Meanwhile, the Lions also had 16 scoring shots, but could only manage six goals as they kicked 10 behinds. The game had been tight from the start, with the Giants up at half-time by just two points  before scores were tied at three-quarter time. With both teams still battling it out in the fourth quarter in a tough contest, it was the Giants who created more opportunities in their forward half as they then converted those chances as they kicked four late goals to run away with a 20 point win. This result sees the Giants stay in fourth on the ladder, but they draw level with the Lions and Port Malmo. With such a close fight for finals positions, percentage could very well be a key factor for both the Lions and Giants as there are five rounds left before finals.

Final Scores (DAFL)

Men’s: Odense Lions (6. 10. 46) defeated by Copenhagen Giants (10. 6. 66).

 

 

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Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – AFL Round 20 review

Injuries would unfortunately take their toll on a couple of the AFL’s Irish players in round 20, with mainstays Mark O’Connor and Colin O’Riordan failing to feature for their sides in what was an enthralling weekend of football.

We would still see a number of players take the field at both AFL and state league level, with McKenna’s return from his brothers wedding in Ireland providing a boost for the Bombers.

However, it would not be enough to lift them over a resurgent Port Adelaide outfit, who after three straight losses hit back at their critics with a complete performance on Saturday afternoon at Marvel Stadium.

With Essendon missing a number of key contributors, Port would put them to the sword dominating from start to finish as they push towards a finals berth over the final three rounds.

As for McKenna, he would pick up where he left off a fortnight ago with another solid performance across half back for the Bombers.

In what was predominantly a fast paced and free flowing game, McKenna was crucial to the Bombers chances with his drive from defence a major threat to the under fire Power.

His efforts would not be good enough though, as the Bombers were simply out worked, out hunted and out played by a more desperate Port team.

McKenna however would be buoyed by his performance, as he again used the ball brilliantly going at 76% and consistently got himself into dangerous positions.

He would also gather a good amount of the ball, picking up 21 disposals, three marks and a tackle to be a bright spot on what was a tough day for Essendon. 

With a big three weeks now coming up for his team, McKenna’s performance will be critical as they hope to lock up a finals spot.

McKenna wasn’t the only returning Irishman this weekend with Geelong veteran Zach Tuohy returning after a week off for the Cats pivotal clash with Fremantle at Optus Stadium.

With the Cats players spending the week over in Perth heading into the game, they were always going to be a curious watch with critics almost certainly going to circle if they were unable to produce.

As the Dockers faced immense pressure of the own, Ross Lyon’s men would stand up to perfection as they backed up their coach by completely outplaying the Cats in a desperate and tough brand of footy.

Now well and truly back with the pack, Geelong will need to get over their form slump quickly if they are to lock away top spot.

As for Tuohy, he along with a vast majority were below their best at Optus Stadium, as the Cats simply couldn’t withstand the pressure bought by the youth of the Dockers.  

Playing in a defence that was under siege from quarter time onwards, Tuohy would only manage 12 disposals, two marks and four tackles in one of his quieter games of the season.

Although he wasn’t able to find the ball on many occasion, his ball use was flawless, going at 100% with his calmness under pressure proving to be extremely valuable on a number of occasions.  

After a season best performance last week, Conor Nash would enter the Friday night stage full of confidence as the Hawks faced North Melbourne in a must win clash for their fading finals aspirations.

It would be a fast start for Hawthorn who piled on the first four goals inside 15 minutes to send a shock through newly appointed North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw and his Kangaroo’s.  

However the tide would turn quickly, as a dominant display after quarter time would see North Melbourne celebrate their 150th anniversary in style with a gritty 22 point win.

With Hawthorn’s forward 50 entries being extremely average all night, Nash would struggle as one of the key pillars.

Clearly still developing his craft as a forward, he just couldn’t get involved for the majority of the night only claiming six touches and a mark.

He still managed to make his presence felt in the forward half however, as he exhibited elite forward pressure with five tackles and constantly made life difficult for the North Melbourne defenders.

Very much a work in progress, its important for the Hawks to persist with the Irishman as they look to build a young and dangerous forward line.

The Gold Coast would take their first trip to the MCG this season as they faced an under fire Collingwood in a crucial Sunday afternoon clash.

Having fallen agonisingly short of upsetting the in form Bombers last week, the confidence of the Suns was high as they looked create a major boil over and create a media storm at Collingwood.

Unfortunately, the class of the Magpies would see them bounce back with vigour as they put the young Suns to the sword in a clinical confidence building display.

After a prolific game last week, veteran Irish defender Pearce Hanley could not repeat those same heroics as Collingwood did an excellent job in negating his run and carry off half back. 

On a tough day for his team, Hanley would only manage 14 disposals, four marks and a tackle with his lack of impact on the game a major influence on the Sun’s inability to move the ball successfully.

In the VFL, irishman Conor Glass did his hopes of a late season recall no harm with an outstanding 19 disposal performance for Box Hill in their two point loss to North Melbourne’s reserves.

For Collingwood, Anton Tohill continued his development with a strong outing against the Northern Blues at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.  

Playing up forward, he was able to hit the scoreboard with two majors and apply some excellent pressure which, without a doubt, would have pleased the higher powers at the Magpies.

Zac Standish – AFL Europe.

Match of the Round

AFL London Premiership Divison Grand Finals

Women’s: North London Lions v Wandsworth Demons  1:30pm

Men’s: West London Wildcats v Wandsworth Demons  3:00pm

3/08/2019  Hackney Marshes

 

Women’s Premiership

Hackney will be home to a thrilling match up in the women’s competition, with the North London Lions and Wandsworth Demons set to compete in the AFL London Women’s Premiership Division Grand Final.

Both the Lions and Demons have had some convincing wins this season with their emphatic style of play, but when against each other are evenly matched across the board. With their past two meetings being decided by under two goals, spectators can expect another extremely close encounter.

In a 2018 Grand Final rematch, this is set to be a tough battle for both sides, who will use their strengths through crunching tackles and ability to burst out of contests.

Beating the Demons in the semi final by a single goal, the Lions will go into this one with some confidence, but are expecting another close game.

Laura Turner-Ramadan will be an important contributor for the Lions in this match. An England Vixens and GB Swans representative, her pace out of contests and ability to win the ball will be exciting to see and set the tone for the way North London want to play.

North London have improved each week and now at peak fitness, combined with great communication skills, seem to be playing their best footy.

Lions Coach Jay Treloar explains some reasons for their success in 2019, “The most impressive thing this season is the commitment shown by the entire group. The effort that people have put into the season both games and training… nothing has been too much for the group so they’re more than deserving of their place in the grand final.”

Unbeaten throughout the regular season, the Demons look to be in their best form and will be confident that the strategies they have used in the past can again get them across the line this weekend.

Using their size and strength in all parts of the ground is a major factor of the Demons game style and their toughness in contests will go a long way towards them winning this weekend.

Demons Coach, Ed Hooper said on the teams strengths, “Our midfield has learned how to move the footy from the contest efficiently and quickly, and we’ve seen big improvement since the season began with our play now flowing nicely. Our defence has also been very strong, taking intercept marks to halt the oppositions momentum.”

A player to look out for on the weekend is the much improved New Zealander, Tracey Hamilton.

“Tracey’s best match was our semifinal loss to the Lions. She read the ball in the air to take a couple of intercepts, chased the ball down under pressure and beat her player to get the ball out, able to create opposition turnovers, and we expect much of the same this weekend,” Coach Hooper said.

The Wandsworth ‘SheDees’ are looking to achieve a rarity in any sport by going for a three-peat, having won the last two Women’s Premierships. On the other hand,  North London want to make amends from a painful Grand Final loss last season and prove to the league that this is their year.

With two evenly matched sides in all areas of the ground, this match will be a nail biter and one of the best matches of the AFL London 2019 season.

Photos by Danny Radis Photography

Men’s Premiership

The two most successful AFL London Men’s Clubs in West London and Wandsworth go head to head in the Men’s Premiership Division Grand Final this weekend.

The Demons are aiming for an incredible premiership three-peat, while the Wildcats are looking to grab a twelfth premiership, leading the count since AFL London began.

This classic rivalry seems to bring out the best of both sides, with the crowd at Hackney set to be treated to some big hits and plenty of goals.

In a rematch of the 2018 Grand Final, which was decided by a mere point in favour of the Demons, the same intensity will be on display this weekend to cap off a huge AFL London season.

With an extremely close loss in the Grand Final last year, the Wildcats will have this in the back of their mind and will do all they can to not feel the same pain in 2019. The Cats are looking to become Premiers and Champions this season, and have been very much on track with an undefeated record so far.

Wildcats Coach, Rhett Kerr on what it means to the side, “It’s been a few years since we last lifted the AFL London Premiership Cup and when adding on top of that a stinging one point grand final loss to the Demons last year and a disappointing showing at the Amsterdam Championship League earlier this year, there is a huge desire to get back to our winning way’s this weekend.”

The Wildcats have a strong side across the board, but a real exciting part of their team is one of the sides Captains David Allitt.

West London Coach Rhett Kerr describes Allit’s impact on their game play, “since we pushed him forward he’s been a huge, regular asset for us hitting the scoreboard, but I think even more importantly he’s been a real on-field leader for us.”

Through their pace and disposal efficiency, the Wildcats will be looking for much of the same against their rival. Their ability to head forward with precision and skill will create many chances on goal and make for an exciting high goal scoring affair.

The Demons have fought hard all season are looking to get some revenge on their opponent after losing to the Wildcats earlier in the semi final. This side is now in much better form and playing their best footy of the season, just in time to head into the big dance.

Through their pace off the half back line and agility through the midfield, expect a team that is willing to take risks towards goal and play an exciting brand of footy.

Demons Coach, Sam Milne shares the importance of this grand final appearance for their club. “For many of the boys who have been here for two or more years and particularly our Rest of the World players, this game means everything to them. Being around the club 2-3 times a week and having the opportunity to play with some life-long friends makes this game unique and I know each of the boys would like nothing more than to take home the silverware.”

Although it is a team effort to make it to the Grand Final, Ryan Richardson will be a key factor for the Demons side. Rarely beaten one on one, his spoils and use of body for intercept marks will be vital towards Wandsworth’s efforts to win.

It’s a big weekend for these two AFL London powerhouses, with both clubs looking to take home three flags after Saturday’s finals. The Wildcats feature all three of their men’s sides in the Premiership, Conference, and Social divisions, while the Demons will see their Men’s Premier and Socials, plus their women’s Premiership side coming up against AFL London’s best.

Expect a hard hitting, tough contest between these two sides as nothing will be left out on the field for the 2019 premiership.

Photos by Danny Radis Photography

 

Stay tuned to next week’s edition of Around the Grounds to see who came out on top!

 

Special thanks to Fine Wine Partners for their support of the growth of the game throughout Europe.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Umpire Spotlight – Laurie Rupe

After a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2015, Laurie Rupe didn’t want to give up the sport so during a United States Australian Football League regional tournament, she put her hand up to be a goal umpire. After that first game, she contacted her national umpiring coach and since then, umpiring has taken Laurie all over the world, including Europe.

Umpiring is a perfect way to stay involved with the game for many former players who have had to stop playing due to injury or other reasons. Umpires get the best view of the action, seeing magical goals and marks from a front row seat.

It’s not just the on-field action though, the umpiring community is a great way to meet new people, and Laurie says that’s her favourite part of Australian Football.

“There are so many amazing people connected to the sport and some of my closest friends are people I have met through Australian Football,” she said.

For Laurie, her umpiring journey is quite unique because of the places she has travelled to. Living in America, where the game is growing while trying to compete with soccer, baseball, basketball and American Football, amongst others, means Laurie travels not just all over the country to umpire games, but she also puts her hand up to travel and umpire in Europe.

At a local level this year, Laurie has booked tickets to the three regional USAFL tournaments, on top of an amazing experience of travelling to Colombia in May to umpire a match between a Denver Bulldogs men’s team, a combined USAFL women’s team and the Bogota Bulldogs men’s and women’s teams.

In the past, umpiring has taken her “all over the US, Amsterdam and Bordeaux, Australia for the International Cup and now Colombia”, an incredible list of places to be part of the Australian Football community.

Even though she lives in the US, Laurie still regularly flies over to Europe to be part of the various tournaments held on the continent, and some of her fondest memories are of tournaments on the continent.

“Bordeaux [is my favourite place I’ve umpired in Europe] for sure. I’m fluent in French so any chance I get to travel to France I will take. I had never been to Bordeaux before, so I got to explore the city and see the Dune du Pilat after the tournament. I also won the golden whistle at that tournament, so it is an extra special place for me,” she said.

While Bordeaux is her favourite place she has umpired at, one of her favourite umpiring moments took place at the 2017 International Cup in Melbourne.

“At IC17, I was part of two games that were an all USAFL umpiring crew. The first game was China versus Indonesia and the second game was hands down my favourite game at the IC, it was the USA Liberty (women’s development team) versus Oakleigh (a local club) and both teams were so thankful to have a full crew of quality umpires there,” she said.

“Also, the field had some flood lights around, but it wasn’t really enough to light up the entire field, so it was a tough game to umpire because certain parts of the field, it was hard to see the ball or the players.  After the game, there was a huge BBQ for everyone, and we all had such a good time interacting with the players.  That game and the BBQ basically sums up everything that I love about footy.”

Looking into the future, Laurie hopes to continue travelling the world for umpiring. She has plenty of tournaments to work towards this year, while the International Cup in Australia, the pinnacle of Australian Football for people across the globe, will be her goal for 2020. There is always plenty of competition for spots on the umpiring list, but Laurie’s experience will give herself every chance on getting on that list and umpiring at another illustrious International Cup.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe