After three rounds of the 2016 AFL London season, both the Wandsworth Demons and the North London Lions remained undefeated. Only separated on the ladder by a mere eighteen percent, both teams showed up to Peckham Rye on Saturday hungry for those four points and top-of-the-table bragging rights.
The Demons proved they most definitely were there for the win, with David Jordan kicking a goal in the early minutes of the game, followed by a set shot 30 metres out from James McLeay.
However, Wandsworth’s flying start was quickly halted by the Lions’ dynamic duo, James Glendenning and Ben Quick, applying strong defensive pressure, consistently repelling the ball back into the midfield. Tug-of-war ensued, with neither team willing to allow penetration into the forward 40s.
Hard running was needed in the middle. The Lions’ persistence paid off with EU Andy Walkden slotting their first, followed by backman James Glendenning.
Kick-starting a counter attack, North London were on. Some fancy footwork and another six points from Tim Dutton took the Lions into the first break with a seven point lead.
Both teams came into the second holding their ground, requiring hard work from the midfield. Lion, Eamon Jenkins, took charge, fending off three Demons before bagging his first.
But again, the Demons retaliated. Strong out of defence, Nathan Stewart fed the ball into the trusty hands of Demon team-mate Michael Pitman who brought the lead back to single digits.
Each time Wandsworth challenged for the lead, North London found a response. Jenkins was rewarded for a high hit, giving him and the Lions their second goal for the quarter.
Persistent counteraction continued, though, with the Demons’ defence determined to keep the margin close.
Jarrod Sandells operated the backline well, feeding the ball through the midfield where Ben Durance and Josh Walker were waiting. A third attempt had Josh Beattie dribble the ball towards the goal moments before the siren, managing to scrape it through and take the margin back down to five points.
Coming off the major break, the Demons weren’t playing around. With only a five point deficit, they were ready to take the lead. A few swift movements off the first bounce and McLeay kicked his second.
A lot of work from the Lions’ midfield put the ball into Jay Pitto’s hands straight in front, only 30m out, for what was North London’s last goal for the game.
Demon Geoffrey Rouse hit the scoreboard while Englishman Chris Cooney kicked two impressive goals under challenging circumstances.
When Michael Pitman’s goal put the Demons 26 points ahead with just 10 minutes left in the fourth, it looked a challenge too far for the besieged Lions.
Lockdown defender John Morrell kept Geoffrey Rouse to a single goal all game before fellow defender Ben Quick went down on the sidelines with a knee injury. The Demons took this as their chance to lengthen the gap, despite the excellent defensive pressure of Morrell on their full forward.
Making sure they were first to the ball at the contest and effectively moving it forward, the Demons continued to add to the scoreboard and impressively ran the match out by 39 points.
WANDSWORTH DEMONS 2.2 4.5 8.5 12.10 (83)
NORTH LONDON LIONS 3.3 5.4 6.5 6.7 (44)
Wandsworth Demons: Cooney 3, McLeay 3, Beattie 2, Pitman 2, Jordan, Rouse
North London Lions: Jenkins 2, Dutton, Glendenning, Pitto, Walkden
AFL London Results
Wandsworth Demons 12.10(83) def. North London Lions 6.7(44)
Wimbledon Hawks 6.4(40) def. by West London Wildcats 20.18(138)
London Swans 11.2(68) def. by Putney Magpies 11.5(71)
The Wandsworth Demons 2.4(16) def. by North London Lions 3.6(24)
Wimbledon Hawks 8.11(59) def. South East London Giants 1.1(7)
Clapham Demons 13.3(81) def. Regent Park Lions 9.6(60)
London Swans 8.3(51) def. by South East London Giants 12.10(82)
South London Demons 9.11(65) def. Bounds Green Lions 4.2(26)
Wimbledon Hawks 0.4(4) def. by Ealing Emus 11.8(74)
South East London Giants 5.5(35) def. by Fulham Magpies 8.11(59)
Additional images: Danny Radis Photography
Also see: afleurope.org