Match of the Round
Berlin Crocodiles v Rheinland Lions
It’s the first game of the German 16-a-side Premiership. Rheinland Lions are making the trip to Berlin to take on the Berlin Crocodiles in what is set to be an intriguing battle between two sides who didn’t meet in the 9-a-side tournament earlier in the year.
The Crocodiles finished that tournament by winning 11 out of a possible 12 games to finish second behind the Munich Kangaroos. The Lions had an indifferent tournament and lacked consistency winning 50% of their games to finish fourth with a 6-12 record.
This weekend’s fixture in Berlin earmarks the start of the 16-a-side Premiership which runs up until the 10th of September when the season culminates with the Grand Final. This year’s format will see 3 teams competing in the larger format which also includes the Munich Kangaroos. The Kangaroos will go into the season as early favourites due to their dominance in the earlier 9-a-side Championship were they didn’t drop a game.
The weekends clash has added importance as the winner will go through to play the Kangaroos in what is effectively a preliminary final with the winner going straight through to the grand final in September.
The Crocs have improved rapidly in the past few seasons and account this to the development of their internal 9-a-side Berlin tournament which consists of four teams, as well as the commitment from their first home-grown German coach, Constantine Hoher. This will be their first 16-a-side game in over two years which could prove difficult and how quickly they adjust will be key to winning this game.
The key players for the Crocs are their four big recruits for the year in Rhys Ironmonger, Mitch New, Luke Edwards and James Sunderman. All four have played reasonable football back home in Australia and have added real depth and talent to the Berlin list.
The Lions have had an indifferent season thus far coming into the 16s Premiership and attribute some major team changes since their Premiership season and Champions League appearance in 2014/15 as a major factor for their inconsistency. The positive for the Lions is the fact that their team is made up primarily of young Germans. Despite their inexperience they’re enthusiastic, fit, strong and pushing hard for an all-out assault on the 16s Premiership.
The key players for the Lions are the midfield generals Julian Wichmann and Tobias Menzel. The latter has arrived back from a year exchange in Australia where he further developed his skills and tactics. Richard Huggard is one to look out for as well. Despite living in Australia, Huggard, returns to Germany every 2 years and pulls the boots on. Huggard should provide extra motivation for the young squad by showing his commitment to the team with the great lengths he travels to pull on the mighty Lions jumper.
It’s set to be a blockbuster to open the Germany 16-a-side Premiership season with plenty on the line for both sides. The winner books themselves a place against the Munich Kangaroos and a chance for automatic entry in the Grand Final. If that doesn’t get the two teams excited for this weekend’s blockbuster, then I don’t know what will.
Best of luck to the Berlin Crocs and Rheinland Lions, we look forward to hearing the result of this one.
Coach’s thoughts – Constantine Hoher (Berlin Crocs)
“I’m looking forward to the final and excited to see how we will go in our first 16-a-side match since 2014 (due to the comp being restructured to a 9-a-side format last year). We have a lot of height in our team this year and we are planning to use this to our advantage. So despite the fact they have been a strong team in the last few years I think we can give them good competition at our home ground and hopefully come away with a win.”
Coach’s thoughts – Kristopher Marsh (Rheinland Lions)
“The season has been quite up and down for the team so far. Even though skills have improved tremendously since the previous season the team has not always lived up to their potential. However, the squad is in good shape and has been training hard over the past days to work on their consistency. Certainly, motivation won’t be an issue since the boys are looking forward to their favourite away game in the capital.”