Lions get 2 Teams through to the AFL London 2012 Grand Final
Following a successful weekend on the field, the North London Lions have finally returned to Grand Final action in London, following a long 10 year wait!
In two huge games in front of our home support at Bounds Green, the Lions overcame the Putney Magpies in the Premiership game, while the Lions Conference team were too strong for the Wandsworth Demons. This means that the Lions are the only London Club with more than 1 team represented in the Grand Finals this coming Saturday, a huge achievement by all involved.
Read on for a quick wrap of last weeks games, before we all focus squarely on the job to be done this coming Saturday 18th August:
Premiership: Lions defeated Putney by 9 points
The Pies and Lions enjoy a big rivalry, due mainly to the number of close games we’ve shared in recent years. The Lions had started the Season slowly, however with 6 wins on the trot (including a win over Putney in Round 8) coming into this game, the lads finally felt that things were starting to work in our favour. All credit to Coaches Diddles and Plugger for their patience and persistence along the way.
Putney are very good at playing a high-pressure brand of football, and hurting opposition teams on the rebound. From the first bounce the game followed that pattern, with the Lions doing plenty of attacking while the Pies had an impact following turnovers. 3 big goals in the opening quarter to the Lions gave them a small lead at quarter time, however Putney had 2 on the board themselves to ensure it was close.
While we had the breeze at our backs for the 2nd quarter, the battle in the midfield really started to swing the game. Hawker was working hard in the ruck, and while we were getting our fair share of clearances the rebound play and hard running of Putney meant they had more scoring opportunities. The Lions were a little bit rattled, and as we started to fumble the ball the Pies took the advantage. A late goal kept us in touch, however Coach Diddles called the lads over to the tree and away from the crowd, to unleash one of his increasingly infamous sprays. With the front row covered in spit, and the rest looking suitably abashed, the Lions took the pitch in the second half knowing that the game was there to be won.
The third quarter was relatively even, however running against the breeze the Lions managed to claw their way back into contention. Irish, Ipa and Ryno held strong in the backline, and so we went into the last quarter only 3 points down. With the game on the line, and a strong breeze at our backs, the Lions came roaring home. Pooley, Levi, Stevo and Hammer in the midfield were well on top, and with a few umpire decisions swinging our way the lads started putting through the goals. Firstly Cappy Sher put one through the big sticks, followed soon after by Coach Diddles. Despite a late Putney goal and a rumour that we might only be a point or two up, the Lions had a handy 9 point buffer when the final siren sounded.
While not our strongest performance of the year, it was a great test leading into the Grand Final. While hard to pick stand out players, strong efforts players included Hawker, Stevo, Pooley, Ipa and Irish.
Conference: Lions defeated Demons by 22 points
The early game kicked off with the Lions facing up to Wandsworth, a dangerous team made more so by the fact that we’d beaten them twice this year and so they had plenty to prove. However the Lions also had a strong team on the pitch, and an expletive-laden fire up speech courtesy of Coach Irish had the lads on song from the start.
Right from the opening bounce the Lions were clearly on top, and with the ball on a string through the middle of the ground and across half back, the entire first quarter was played in our half. Geooooffry and Struggers up front were the main beneficiaries, as the ball was continually pushed forward, and 4 goals to a solitary point at the other end for the quarter was a good reward.
The lads had a bounce in their step, and while we carried on for the 2nd and 3rd quarters in much the way we had started the game, actually getting goals on the board was proving a challenge. The forward line was pulling down some great grabs, however when it came to kicking things weren’t looking so rosy. Five goals missed from inside the goal square or just beyond wasn’t exactly what the doctor ordered, however Wandsworth still hadn’t managed to bother the goal umpire come the beginning of the last quarter, and so things weren’t as bad as they might seem.
The back line was holding strong, with Toddy and Benny Alcock dominating, and the Boot rebounding the pill out of defence time and again. Equally, in the middle of the ground Pav, Alex, Franky V, and the Don were benefiting from Chrissy Brennan’s work in the ruck.
The final quarter saw the Lions a bit guilty of looking ahead to next week, as the Demons managed three goals to our one to close the gap slightly. However the game was in the bag, and the Lions had proven themselves worthy of a spot in the Grand Final. Best players included Toddy, Chris Brennan, Geooofry, Pav and The Boot.