Oslo East win first ever Kenguru Cup

Oslo East v Oslo West, Kenguru Cup

(Kenguru Cup 5 gallery)

Wins over Ås and Oslo West have propelled Oslo East to the first ever Kenguru Cup title, making them the inaugural champions of Norway’s Australian football competition.

Round five was the best of the year. More players, higher scores and a higher standard of footy were all evident, as was the evenness of the three teams.

The first two games of the night decided the title.

Oslo East and West are born rivals, and their battles got closer and closer as the year went on. In Kenguru Cup 5, the East added new Norwegian player PK, some polish in the form of Adam Culvenor and some force in Isaac Iceman Schmidt.

The West brought Round 4 heroes Damien Cosson and Ben Marks back, and debuted Josh Skidmore Hornby and Morty the Norwegian.

From the start, West midfielder Rene Damborg Jensen played like a man possessed. Irrespective of who won the ruck hit-out, he tore the centre clearances apart and evaded would-be tacklers with ease. Within five minutes he had racked up 10 touches. His leadership, and the high work rate of the westies stretched Oslo East, and put the West out in front at half time.

Goals to Cosson, Jensen and Hedberg put the undermanned westerners in a winning position in the second half, but they were never able to put a big margin between themselves and their crosstown rivals.

East hung tight, and their attack on the ball was fierce. Gradually they fought their way back into the contest, and in a frantic final minutes the game hung in the balance.

Enter Nathan Roxby. The terrier of the East had played a big game from start to finish, and in the dying seconds it was his mark 30 metres out that would decide the game. Kick truly – East are up by a point with five seconds left. Miss – West run out the clock and win by less than a goal.

His drop punt never looked like failing. It was high and handsome, sailing directly through the middle to give East the win. The East celebrated, knowing how much pressure their win put on Ås.

The Battlers of Ås had played an exciting season of football heading into the final round. Consistently producing promising new players, the growth of the game there is outstpacing growth of the game in Oslo.

Their squad for Kenguru Cup 5 was enormous, and they came to play hard. They knew their inferior percentage to Oslo East meant they couldn’t just finish equal on wins, they would need to win both games.

West, exhausted from their epic battle against East, dug deep to put in one final effort for 2012. They were more accurate and efficient than Ås, but were tiring, and Ås stars like Eivind Myrvold, Oliver Tomic and the returning JJ Debenham ensured there would be no getting away from this Ås team.

The game was played at a frantic pace, and a swollen knee for Marks depleted West to a team with no interchange players in the second half.

Their lead, through the inspired efforts of Damborg Jensen and finishing of Cosson and company, held firm, as David Stone managed to turn the ruck contests West’s way. Ås threw one final effort, a sensational end-to-end goal that put them within reach, but it was too late. West would end 2012 with a stirring win, a win that effectively ended Ås’ chances of topping the table.

A few blowout losses during the season had done the damage for Ås. They made the team’s percentage low (percentage is used  to split teams who are level on points on the table – the equation = total points scored / total points scored against).

Had their percentage been close to Oslo East, a win in the final game would put the two teams level on wins with the a close percentage race deciding who was atop the ladder. Alas for Ås, the gap in percentage was so large that a win of 100+ points would have been required for this scenario.  In fading light and 15 minute halves this was never going to be possible.

The final game was played hard and fair, and both teams gave it everything they had, but it was essentially a dead rubber. Complete darkness made for a slightly shortened second half, and East’s win added a gap between themselves and the competition that perhaps doesn’t represent how even the season was.

Had Oslo West hung on in that first game, this final game would have been for all the coconuts. Had Ås’ wins been bigger and their losses smaller, the percentage equation would have been closer.

As it was, East were worthy winners for their consistent season. They overcame West and Ås when they needed to, and are the first ever AFL Champions (or Premiers) of Norway. Captain Tor Ivar Amundsen raised the beer filled cup skyward as West and Ås pondered what might have been. Waffles, coffees, beers and pølse helped ease the post-game aches and pains (thanks Hilde!), and with that, the domestic season was over.

Across 15 games, three Sweden games, countless trainings and dozens of new players introduced to the great game of Australian football, 2012 was a year of fantastic progress. One final highlight is still to come, with our first ever all-Norwegian landslag heading to Scotland to represent their country; the first ever Norwegian team to play an international tournament. They have a tough assignment ahead of them, but the skills and determination they have shown during the season give reason for real hope.

Thanks to Adam Pearce, David Stone, and Adam O’Toole, as well as everyone else who has worked on recruiting, coaching, umpiring, supporting and spreading the word about Australian football in Norway. Nights like Kenguru Cup 5 remind you that all the work has been worth it.

Huge thanks to Anette Smith for her expertise, dedication and help in every facet of what we do. 2013 is a going to be a big year for australsk fotball in Norway, and there are already plans for building a better recruiting network here is Oslo, just as Ås have been able to do.

For now though, congratulations to the beasts of the East, good luck to our landslag players, and let’s enjoy the grand final on Sep 29 before a well earned break!

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