City out, Mozzies in; Manchester and Huddersfield take the limelight
Royal Weddings and Cup Finals may be the flavour of the day in the English capital this Saturday, but in Manchester Australian football takes centre stage with a clash between two of the AFLCNE powerhouses, the Huddersfield Rams and Manchester Mosquitoes headlining a big day of round three football.
Both sides scored resounding victories last weekend, but it will be the Rams in particular who take a great deal of confidence from the previous result, after they responded strongly following a tight opening round defeat at the hands of Nottingham, bouncing back with an impressive 82-point win against Merseyside.
While they can expect a torrid contest against the reigning premiers, Rams head coach Alex Overton says that the side is now finding it’s “groove” after two competitive fixtures and will be ready to put their best foot forward on Saturday.
“We’ve been training really hard, focusing on nailing the fundamentals of our games and developing our style… we are just going to go out and play the Huddersfield Rams way; with heart, effort and a touch of quality,” Overton said.
“We are expecting the very best version of Manchester to turn up on Saturday. Nothing less.”
The Ram’s will be leaning on their stars to overcome a Manchester side that only narrowly missed a semi-final slot at AFL Europe’s recent Champions League in Amsterdam, but with Lewis Ozanne booting 11 goals in the opening two games and England captain Matt Whiteley in hot form, there is good reason for confidence.
Their opponents from down the M62 continue to go from strength to strength and the 67-point win in last Saturday’s grand-final rematch over Nottingham is only the tip of that ice-burg, with the demand to play and training numbers at the Mozzies so high that selectors are set to be forced to make the tough calls to leave some players out of the line-up.
Manchester President Glenn Murphy has enjoyed the successes of recent seasons but stresses that the club won’t be resting on their laurels in the quest for improvement both on and off the field in 2018.
“Our preparation has been strong right through the preseason… we lost a few guys back to Australia at the end of last year but we’re really excited about a few of the new recruits who can add a lot to the side this season,” Murphy said.
Irish ruckman Paddy Lawson headlines those newcomers, and Murphy expects that the big man will be fit to play despite suffering a nasty head knock last weekend.
“Paddy should be okay this week and we think he is capable of causing some real damage, along with Andy Cochran, who has always been a good player but absolutely dominated last week and looks ready to explode.”
Murphy also stressed the desire to capitalise on the team’s recent on-field feats by continuing to develop a strong community around the club.
‘’We really want to get the families involved and have as many numbers around the club as possible, with getting a women’s team up and running one of our medium-term goals that having a real family friendly environment can hopefully help encourage.‘’
Riley Brettell – AFL Europe