The London Swans got the 2019 season off to a flyer in Round 1, with all 3 Swannies teams recording wins for the first time in the club’s history.
Significantly, the day also marked the launch of the Battle of the Bridge shield between the London Swans and the South East Giants, supporting mental health charity Mind UK.
We’ve taken a quick look at each of the games below.
Women’s Conference – Vs Wandsworth Demons
Swans 2.3.15 def. Demons 0.0.0
One could have forgiven the Swanettes for getting caught up in the emotion of Saturday’s clash, with star full-forward Aislinn Catherine pulling on the red and white for the final time in the shadow of the grand final rematch against the ol’ foe.
But the Swanettes, led by newly-appointed skipper Maddy Coombes and boasting a fine mix of experienced heads and first-timers, shrugged off any nerves or worries quickly with a dominant four-quarter performance at Hackney Marshes.
The midfielders, spearheaded by the cool and composed Alice Bradley and fleet-footed Lexi Dengate, didn’t give an inch in the middle while relentless defensive pressure ensured the footy was locked away in the front half for nearly the entire match.
Wandsworth, in fact, could muster only three inside 50s for the game, the Demons failing to get past Alyssa and the rest of the Swanettes’ impenetrable back six.
After a couple of missed opportunities, the pressure valve eventually burst and Ash, in true Ash style, marked and converted in the dying stages of the opening half to give the Swanettes an eight-point buffer going into the main break.
Knowing too well how quickly the game could change, the girls refocused and picked up right where they left off in the second half with a brilliant display of team-first football courtesy of some great decision making, clean ball use and some fierce Mayliss-inspired tackling which left some direct opponents a little worse for wear.
The result was put behind doubt thanks to a brilliant passage of play from the middle ground that found Ash on the forward flank. The star forward did the rest, charging back towards homes before dribbling through the Swanettes’ second goal (and her last goal for the red and white) to seal the win.
In a unanimous ‘tap-and-fill’ vote counted amid the post-match celebrations, both Ash and Alice walked away with the honours with Maylis and Alyssa rounding out the top four.
Men’s Socials – Vs South East London Giants
Swans 6.15.51 def. Giants 1.1.7
After the biggest shake-up in AFL London league history in the off-season, the London Swans seconds team made its debut in the the Socials Division.
In the line-up for the Swans were no fewer than 9 players making their debut for the club, including one player who was playing their first ever game of 18-a-side AFL!
From the outset the Swannies got on top in the midfield with big German powerhouse Seb Grebe winning taps and running through packs to get the ball moving forward.
Club veterans Sam Tarca and Andrew Cook took advantage of this to dominate the middle of the ground and control the game.
At half-back Troy Bignell controlled the air with a number of strong spoils, while Phil Mucha, Steve Campbell, Andrew McManus, Andy O’Donaghue returned everything that came there way – with interest.
Other strong performers on the day were Antony Gutsa, Louis Wood, Patty Doan, and Darcy ‘Dadsy’ O’Connor.
A special shout-out also has to go to Dadsy for bringing his own cheer squad….
Men’s Premiership – Vs South East London Giants
Swans 9.12.66 def. Giants 5.7.37
After a number of quality departures in the off-season, the Men’s Premiership side was always going to take on a new look in 2019.
No fewer than 10 players made their debut for the London Swans in the Premiership team on Saturday, including Filippe Gouveia (Portugal) and Peter Wood (New Zealand) who were playing their first games of AFL…ever.
Going into a strong breeze, the first quarter was a tight contest between the sides as the new look Swannies team took time to click into gear.
Strong play from Josh Wilson in the midfield, Brandon Pappalardo down back, and Jack Baxter up front saw the Swannies sneak a couple of goals to go into quarter time ahead.
In the second quarter, the Swannies midfield got on top early and took advantage of kicking with the breeze to register 5 quick goals and well and truly assert their control on the match.
Sam Hartman up forward provided a huge target, while Ben Corbett, Jacko Risely and Ian Ash were able to generate a number of quick clearances from the midfield.
In the second half, the Swannies played smart football to control the ball and manage the game with Gautham ‘G’ Ratnakumar, Luke McManus, and Rob McHugh in particular making smart decisions on the field.
A couple of late Giants goals pulled the score back but in the end it was a comfortable win for the Swannies.
Special mentions also need to go to the rest of the strong non-Australian contingent in the line-up including Matt Goodman, Kennneth Loakman, and Toby Webster (GB), Maarten Kooistra (Netherlands), and the club stalwart Jacques Bassili (NZ) who all made great contributions in the game.
…and the Battle of the Bridge goes too
With the combined aggregate score of the two men’s teams going the Swannies way, it was the London Swans who took out the first ever Battle of the Bridge.
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