Oslo retains AFL Sweden West title with big win

Photo Karl Richard Nilsson (click for full size)

by David Stone

Another highlight has been added to a great year for Australian football in Norway, with the Oslo Crows defeating a combined Goteborg-Karlstad team 14.9.93 to 4.5.29.

The win ensured Oslo remained unbeaten in the AFL Sweden West in 2012, securing the premiership for the second year in a row.

A squad of 14 made the drive to the Glenn Oval at Goteborg, and were met with something some of them had never seen before – real goalposts and a real oval football ground. It was a fine day for footy but a challenging one; a strong, shifting breeze made conditions tricky.

Goteborg and Karlstad, wearing the colours of AFL club Richmond Tigers, they came out showing plenty of fight and toughness. Captain Joel Språng and athletic Aussie Marcus Drought were the danger men on the Swedish team, with both creating strong run and in the case of Drought, marking power.

Kicking with the wind in the first, Oslo responded to coach Stone’s demand to be uncompromising in their attack on the ball. Goteborg-Karlstad came out with their typical physical intensity, and the match was a tough contest in the middle. Nobody felt this more than Fridtjof Denneche, who received a heavy bump early in the game. To his credit he picked himself up and played on, and every Oslo player gave as good as they got. The game was a great reminder of the increased physicality of international games, and excellent preparation for our national team players warming up for Edinburgh.

With the midfield an even contest, Oslo got top by way of a composed backline and strong rebound football back out of defence. Brett Taylor, Lloyd Valentine and their backline cohorts weathered a torrid opening ten minutes, and repelled several attacks skillfully. In transition, Rene Damborg Jensen and Nathan Roxby led the charge and caught the Swedes off-guard with their run and precise kicking. Half forwards Chris Fok and Andreas Kristoffer Berge were great targets as the Crows streamed the ball through the middle, their mobility ensuring they were in space and in front of their opponents.

The tight defense and mobile forward line would soon turn into goals. Lloyd drifted into the forward 50 to mark and goal, and from there, goals came from every avenue. Chris, Andy, Adam P, Stoney, Adam C, Roxby and Lars all presented themselves as goalkickers.

With Adam Culvenor joining Adam Pearce in the middle, the supply to the forward line increased, and so did the gap between the two teams.

Maron Fife Shebokshi was always in the thick of the action and showed great endeavour. Klas Alexander Harris demonstrated his continued improvement, and played hard and true at the ball. Ben Marks, in his first AFL Sweden West game, was invaluable in the ruck and around the ground.

As the game went on, Oslo’s skill and pressure didn’t drop. The scoreboard continued to tick over as Lars Konrad Hansen showed some exciting potential as a key forward. He ended with a handful of quality goals for the Crows.

The final score of 14.9.93 to 4.5.29 reflected Oslo’s control over the game. For four quarters the Norwegian outfit ran, moved the ball, took marks inside the forward 50 and turned defence into attack. It was a great reward for a strong season, which still has two big chapters to be written – the playoff for the first ever Kenguru Cup and the first all-Norwegian team taking on Europe at the Euro Cup.

Thanks to Joel and the Goteborg and Karlstad guys for putting on the game, and showing us around town on Saturday night. Their local knowledge led us to some quality chicken tikka masala and the luckiest blackjack tables in town. Special thanks to Anette for another day of fantastic support, and to Bretto’s mate Andre for coming along to watch.

Player notes:

Adam Culvenor: First game as a Crow, was a class above. Won plenty of the ball and used his magnificent left foot to great effect
Adam Pearce: Three typically strong quarters and some quality goalkicking from the Rolls Royce of Norwegian football.
Ben Marks: Lots of great work around the ground. A very handy addition to the team. Took marks, won hit-outs, showed good skills.
Brett Taylor: Was like a magnet for the ball in the first quarter. Answered every Swedish attack with strong, assured defensive football.
Nathan Roxby: One of Oslo’s best. Won a heap of possessions, and was pinpoint in his passing and handballing. Great game
Lars Konrad Hansen: Very strong game, especially once moved into the forward line. Took a great mark on the lead and converted it into a goal like a born forward.
Maron Fife Shebokshi: Great effort. Got himself to a lot of contests, and handled the physical pressure admirably. Has improved out of sight since his first game.
Klas Alexander Harris: Continues to show courage at the ball and an improving skill level. Could be in for a big game in the Kenguru Cup decider this week
Rene Damborg Jensen: The engine room of the Crows, as usual. Tough, elusive, and skilled. Another standout game for Rene.
David Stone: Worked hard around the ground, but lacked his usual effectiveness. Will bounce back with a big game for Oslo West this week
Fridtjof Denneche: Spent some time on the bench after two heavy knocks. Played courageously while he was out there.
Chris Fok: Continues to create matchup problems as a mobile half forward. Showed his excellent workrate again, and was a great target to kick to across half forward. Multiple goal scorer
Lloyd Valentine: Scored his first goal for the Oslo Crows and was rock solid in the backline. Excellent performance
Andreas Kristoffer Berge: Our Hotel Cæsar star was his usual hard running self. His workrate, with second and third leads each time, created lots of marks for him across half forward. Will be an important player for Norway.

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