Cats and Demons set the standard for AFL London opener
After a scintillating opening round, last year’s AFL London Grand Finalists yet again are looking the goods as the AFL London season 2012 kicked off with style.
THE 2011 AFL London Grand Finalists West London Wildcats and Wandsworth Demons showed their intent to again feature at the pointy end of the new AFL London season, with comfortable Round 1 victories over the weekend.
Saturday’s season opener ended months of anticipation as clubs scurried to sign anyone with even the vaguest idea of what a Sherrin is.
The London weather gods played their part too, providing warm, clear conditions after a fortnight of drizzle.
The Demons, tormented by last year’s 32-point grand final loss to the Wildcats, sprung out of the blocks at Clapham, posting a 25-point win over a Putney Magpies side that looked every bit as good but simply ran out of legs.
After a tight opening period, Wandsworth – barely recognisable after the break – piled on five goals to two in the second term to set up the 12.13 (85) to 9.6 (60) win.
No one got near diminutive Demons midfielder Daniel Broderick, who was easily Best On Ground. Mark Brescacin, a major contributor for the Demons last year, was impressive up forward before moving into the midfield where he was a class above the rest.
The Magpies were not disgraced by any means, with several winners despite the scoreboard. John Cutten, last year’s club champion, was solid at full back, Josh Dykes battled hard in the ruck, and Aaron Knapmann held his own in the middle.
The Putney selection committee will have plenty to ponder during the week, though, with several lower grade Magpies showing seniors potential after their Conference game victory: Putney winning 15.2 (92) to Clapham 7.3 (45). Jared Jones, brother of St Kilda’s Clint, looks a handy recruit, with a quality showing of dash off halfback. Captain coach Pat ‘Farva’ Mahon booted seven goals, while South Australian Luke Jackson was too big and strong up forward, particularly in the first half.
Sparks flew in the second and third terms with two yellow cards issued: one to giant Demon Markham Johnson for losing his cool and Putney’s Jackson after a separate scuffle.
Across town, North London Lions looked anything but comfortable at home against reigning premiers West London, the Cats purring their way to a 15.12 (102) to 6.8 (56) victory.
Levi Fernandez was the Lions’ best, while Anthony Bull was dominant for the Cats.
Shepherds Bush Raiders (Cats seconds) showed they’re again the team to beat in the Conference division with a demolishing 27.11 (173) to 0.3 (3).
Craig Marshall, in his final AFL London season (thank god!), defied his age to take best afield honours while Lachie Dowling benefited from some handy work up the ground, bagging six majors.
Expect Marshall’s responsibilities to be limited to onfield duties only in the coming weeks after his players watched the tube doors at Russell Square close with over £1000 worth of conference kit on board after the match. Some smooth talking and some two hours later, it was recovered at Uxbridge, the final destination.
At Shoreditch, South London Swans booted six goals to Wimbledon Hawks’ none in the second half to snatch a 12.11 (83) to 8.12 (60) win.
It was a double act, with the Swans winning their Conference match too, against the Dragons – 9.11 (65) to 9.8 (62) with the lead changing three times in the last quarter.
After some impressive results and displays across the whole competition (and the cobwebs well and truly blown away); players, officials and supporters will be anxious for more AFL London action when Round 2 kicks into gear this weekend.
Round 2 Match-Ups: West London v South London at Barn Elms; Putney v North London at Putney Heath, Wimbledon v Wandsworth at Motspur Park.