Swiss may spoil Austrian-German battle for Eurobowl

Category: EFL - published 2012-05-30 by EFAF

For the first time ever a Swiss team has made it to the semifinals of EFL. The Calanda Broncos sealed victory in a fierce quarterfinal battle at Graz by 19-14 and move on to face reigning Eurobowl champion Tirol Raiders in the semifinals on the weekend of June 16/17. The Raiders easily went on into the semifinals by winning 56-14 at home against the Prague Panthers. The Raiders are joined by a second AFL team in the semifinals as the Vienna Vikings continued their 2012 unbeaten streak against German champions Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (25-13). In the semifinals the Vikings will face another GFL opponent, as the Berlin Adler pulled out a close game against London Blitz, securing a narrow 21-15 in the last quarter.

Barring the Raiders-Panthers game which saw a 21-0 lead by the home favourites after the first quarter all other three games had lead changes involved. The early stages of the Vienna game in front of 6,000 at the Generali Arena clearly belonged to the visiting Unicorns from Germany. The Unicorns went ahead 13-3 and by halftime the Vikings only did cut the lead by a touchdown and a safety to one point. But adjustments in the second half helped a lot - one touchdown in each of the remaining quarters by former Unicorn Dusty Thornhill carried the Vikings to a 25-13 win.

Their eyes now are set on revenge for their 2010 loss in the Eurobowl final at home against the Berlin Adler. However this time they should be favoured even more than on that last occasion. The Adler, while still unbeaten in GFL league play as the Vikings in the AFL, struggled seriously against a brave team from London at home. The London Blitz, EFAF Cup winner of 2011, had plenty of chances to win a game filled with curiosity at Berlin. For instance they had two blocked field goal attempts within minutes during the first half, each of them followed by a fumble of the Adler offense on the very next play giving the Blitz great field possession. In total the Berlin offense fumbled away the ball six times and had one interception. Berlin only scored on three big plays (a punt return at the start of the first quarter, a long pass play in their first play of the second half and a breakaway run of backup quarterback Tobias Brüning after a broken play) and was luckily relying on its defense to stop the Blitz at least in the Berlin red zone where about a third of the whole game action took place.

The Calanda Broncos had their share of struggling too, while not to that extent as the Berlin Adler. But their passing attack ran into a solid Graz defense and often was stopped in the opponent's red zone. The Giants showed some solid rushing offense and were able to take the lead in the first quarter. It took until one minute before halftime for the Broncos to score their own first touchdown and take a 9-7 lead into the intermission. While the Broncos are certainly used to higher margins by that time of their games they managed to use this small advantage wisely in the third quarter. Their defense held off all Graz attempts to score forcing three turnovers. Calanda added a field goal in the third and a passing touchdown in the last quarter. The Giants were able to respond quickly, but only for one touchdown of their own and Calanda's offense could run down the clock with the score at 19-14.

Home field advantage for the semifinals will be awarded within the next days. Home field advantage in the semifinals and finals of both EFL and EFAF Cup is awarded in a bidding process amongst the competing teams. The process was standardized by EFAF in 2009 and enables clubs to formally apply, if they wish to host one of these games. The EFAF Board of Directors after evaluation of all applications decides based on financial, strategic and quality aspects. The goal is to showcase the top European games to a broad public, thus past attendance figures or possible TV coverage are amongst the most important in the mix of criteria that leads to the decision. Still clubs are allowed to back their application by direct financial offerings to their respective opponent, however since 2009 these can only be used in a way deemed to enhance the quality of play in the game. So a hosting club may choose to cover the cost for an extended hotel-stay of the visiting team, accommodate a bigger delegation or offer a prize money for the game. The percentages of such prize money to be awarded to the winner and the loser are preset by EFAF competition guidelines to ensure transparency in any financial transaction between the two clubs involved.

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