Scorpions out to end Manchester dominance in CNE big dance
It’s a clash which perfectly befits the legacy of two famous sporting cities this Saturday as the Nottingham Scorpions set out to topple a juggernaut in Saturday’s AFLCNE Grand Final, against the four-time reigning premiers from Manchester.
The task for Nottingham to do what no CNE side has been able to do in 2018 and beat the Mozzies is a mighty one, but the side showed the dogged determination that will be required to atone for their consecutive Grand Final defeats on the day with their 12-point Semi-Final victory over the Wolverhampton Wolverines.
While Manchester would be well within their rights to have the champagne on ice as they travel down the M1 following yet another flawless CNE season, the recent form may well be weighted towards the hosts given the Mozzies haphazard preparation in recent weeks.
The Mozzies could be considered short of a gallop in racing terms after they received the easiest path possible into the Grand Final with the unfortunate forfeit of their Semi-Final opponents, the Huddersfield Rams, which came on the back of their final round and pre-finals byes that forced the club into scheduling an emergency scratch-match to get crucial game time into the squad.
Nottingham will hope to use the extra competitive match hardness to get the early jump on their opponents, and should take further encouragement from their significant improvement across the two clashes against the Mozzies earlier in the season, where they bridged the gap from a convincing 67-point defeat to the Mancunians in round two to just five goals when they faced off again later in season.
Scorpions Secretary, Martin Kearney, says that while his side has great respect for what Manchester has achieved in recent seasons, they believe they can now knock the champions from their perch.
“The Mozzies have been an incredibly strong team for a number of seasons now and we expect this to be our toughest game of the season,” Kearney said.
“We’ve seen in our previous two games against them that in spells we have the quality to put them under some real pressure and this Saturday is about doing that for four quarters.
“We obviously thought the same last year but felt we let ourselves down at a crucial point at the start of the final quarter which cost us and we’ll learn from that this year. It’s nice to finally have one in Nottingham in front of our friends and family and everyone is really excited and quietly confident that this year it’ll be the Scorpion’s singing at the end of the game.”
Nottingham will be looking to Great Britain representatives Rob Goliah & Mark Ireland to lead the charge along with 2018 recruit Lachlan Murdoch, whose quality has shone through in his first season after coming out from Australia, earning praise from Kearney for the “huge influence” he has had on the development of the sides English contingent.
As for his final message before the side crosses the white line on Saturday, Kearney can thank Shia LaBeouf for his inspiration.
“The Scorpions (or more myself) have had a little saying over the last few seasons – No sacrifice, no victory,” Kearney said.
“We don’t care that it’s from the Transformer’s movie, it’s still true. Everybody has been thinking about this for a while now so there’s little that needs to be said to the team, it’s just a case of making sure we focus and prepare.”
For Manchester, it is simply matter of maintaining the status quo that has served them so well over the past five years on their way to becoming not only the most dominant outfit in AFLCNE history , but one of the premier men’s teams throughout the whole of Europe which was highlighted by their fifth-placed finish at the AFL Europe Champions League in Amsterdam earlier in the year.
When asked if the side was feeling any additional pressure as they strive for a fifth-consecutive flag, President Glenn Murphy indicated that the demographics of the current side meant that history would not be a burden on the day.
“As a club we are going for five which would be a great achievement and something we would be proud of if it happens, but within the team there are guys playing in their first, second, third, fourth and fifth Grand Finals, so it’s a different feeling for everyone,” Murphy said.
“Obviously going through the regular season undefeated was a good result, but it really won’t mean much unless we can get the ‘W’ on Saturday,
“We know what Nottingham bring and they are a good side, and I don’t think regular season form means much. You only have to look at the Grand Final last year and how close it was all the way up to three-quarter time.”
Last Time They Met
Manchester Mosquitos 15.26 (116) def. Nottingham Scorpions 12.11 (83)
Road To The Final
Rd1. Defeated Huddersfield by 15
Rd2. Defeated By Manchester by 67
Rd3. Defeated Wolverhampton by 89
Rd4. Defeated By Merseyside on Forfeit
Rd5. Defeated By Manchester by 33
Rd6. Defeated Wolverhampton by 4
Rd7. Defeated Merseyside
Rd8. Defeated Huddersfield
SF. Defeated Wolverhampton by 12 points
Rd1. Defeated Nottingham by 67
Rd2. Defeated Huddersfield by 73
Rd3. Defeated Wolverhampton by 38
Rd4. Defeated Merseyside by 182
Rd5. Defeated Nottingham by 33
Rd6. Defeated Huddersfield by 111
Rd7. Defeated Wolverhampton by 96
Rd8. Defeated Merseyside
SF. Defeated Huddersfield on Forfeit
AFLCNE GRAND FINAL
NOTTINGHAM SCORPIONS V MANCHESTER MOSQUITOES
2PM SATURDAY – NOTTINGHAM MORDEN’S RUGBY CLUB
Riley Brettell – AFL Europe