EFL playoff berths !!!!!!
The London Blitz, winner of EFAF Cup and British champion of 2011, are the first of four division titlists in this year’s European Football League. The Blitz defeated reigning Spanish champion L’Hospitalet Pioners by 21-14 at London’s Finsbury Park and became only the second British team in EFL quarterfinals since the European reign of the London Olympians faded in the Mid-90’s. The Blitz, who in their first EFL game had escaped with a 7-6 win at La Courneuve, had to fight hard against their Spanish opponents again, but in the third quarter broke a 14-14 halftime tie by Steve Clements’ interception return touchdown. And again it was their defense that was able to secure that lead until the end. Next stop of the Blitz will be Berlin, where last year’s Eurobowl runner-up Adler will be the hosts in the quarterfinal game on May 27.
The race for the second of the open quarterfinals spots will be decided on April 29, when the Prague Panthers travel to Vienna to face the Danube Dragons. Both teams agreed to decide their battle for the right to square off with reigning Eurobowl champion Vikings like in 2011, this time by 15-17), there still might be some hope to turn the season into a “defining” one, when one of both plays the Raiders at Wattens on May 26.
A “defining season” is something the two other winners of EFL group play of the last weekend are after for sure. Swiss and German champions Calanda Broncos and Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns both left no doubt they are bound for the EFL quarterfinals at Graz and Vienna respectively, and for both clubs the Eurobowl trophy is officially declared to be this season’s goal. The Calanda Broncos defeated Finnish champions Helsinki Wolverines easily by 49-6, a margin that would take more than just a single miracle to be turned around in the second encounter at Finland’s capital on May 5. The Unicorns still might be a little more concerned. While their 44-6 win at Badalona was in no way less convincing, they have to play against a third team, Italy’s Parma Panthers, on May 5, to conquer the division title. However, with Tirol’s AFL loss the Unicorns took over the role of holder of the longest current “unbeaten, untied” streak among EFL contestants, as their last defeat dates back to September 18, 2010. Neglecting ties the current record holder would be the London Blitz, whose last defeat came in EFAF Cup 2010 on June 5 against Carlstad. So with this set of teams to challenge the top four seeds in the quarterfinals some very exciting games will certainly be ahead in EFL 2012.
Same goes for EFAF Cup: Two of the semifinalists have already cleared their way into the postseason. The Sollerod Gold Diggers, the finalist of 2011 from Denmark, beat Poland’s Wroclaw Giants 58-7 to take the division title, and France’s “shooting star” of the last couple of years from Grenoble won a close game at Hohenems (17-15) to conquer group A. An all Danish and French semifinal might be possible, as Amiens and the Triangle Razorbacks from Jutland may become the other two group winners.. However there is a strong German GFL team from Braunschweig that steps into the way of the Danish champions next Sunday. And even when Braunschweig’s head coach Phil Hickey, who himself coached in Denmark for some years, warns his team to not underestimate the challenge, his team is favoured to secure the semifinals spot with a win over the Razorbacks.