North London Lions vs West London Wildcats, Saturday 21st May, 3:00pm – Albert Road Recreation Ground, Bounds Green, London.
The West London Wildcats went into last year’s AFL London Grand Final as raring hot favourites only to have their hopes spoiled by underdogs, the North London Lions. The Wildcats were dominant throughout the 2015 season and were expected to easily account for the boys from North London. The Lions had other ideas and eventually came away with the Premiership, claiming victory by a solitary point.
This Saturday sees the two teams square off again for the first time since the showcase event last season. Both teams have had changes to personnel in the off-season and have started their respective 2016 campaigns in typical fashion.
The Lions have started off season 2016 with wins against the London Swans and Wimbledon Hawks before going down to the Wandsworth Demons in a fierce hit-out last weekend. Nik Schoenmakers has been pivotal in the ruck and provides the Lions midfield with first use at most stoppages. He’ll be looking to link up with the ever present Eamon Jenkins who has also been in a rich vein of form providing a great mix of inside grunt and outside leg speed for the Lions midfield.
The Lions will be hoping Captain Ben Quick will recover in time from a niggling knee injury he suffered in last week’s game as he could be the difference between the two sides come Saturday. His leadership and strong marking across the half-back line is vital to the Lions success.
It’s been a long, cold London winter for the West London boys pondering what could of been and this weekend’s Grand Final rematch provides them with the opportunity for a little bit of redemption. They started off their 2016 campaign with a point to prove and took out the AFL Europe Champions League and AFL London Pre-Season Cup with ease. Despite a tight loss to the Demons in round 1 of the regular season they easily accounted for the Putney Magpies and Wimbledon Hawks.
No doubt Lloyd Williams has racked up the fines at the Cattery for his constant mentions in AFL Europe media but it’s hard to go past the silky half-back and his game-changing ability. He’ll need to be stopped by the boys from the North and will be expecting some close attention from his opposition in an attempt to limit his impact on the game.
Evan Duryea will be hoping to continue his goal-scoring ways on the weekend after putting through 14 majors in the past two weeks for the Wildcats. A massive game from ruckmen, Jared Risol, will be needed to negate the influence of Schoenmakers. This match-up will be key to the result of the game.
Both teams are going to come out firing come 3pm Saturday. There’s going to be some real feeling in this one with physicality and contested footy set to determine the outcome between these two fierce rivals. If the Pre-Season Cup is anything to go by it could be on for young and old with emotions set to be running high.
If you’re looking for a game to watch in London this weekend, then make your way to Albert Road Recreation Ground, this one is set to be a thriller.