London Blitz gear up for crunch European test at Finsbury Park

London Blitz defensive back Dave Jennison makes a tackle against Bristol Aztecs. Pic: Phil Rocker

London Blitz defensive back Dave Jennison makes a tackle against Bristol Aztecs. Pic: Phil Rocker - Credit: Archant

Assistant coach Damian Anderson believes London Blitz will be able to gauge their prospects of European success from Saturday’s home clash with Aix-en-Provence Argonautes.

Blitz begin their IFAF European Champions League campaign against the French side at Finsbury Park – and Anderson has no doubt it will be their hardest test of the season so far.

The Argonautes have already posted a comfortable victory over Madrid Osos Rivas, but Anderson is hoping that home advantage could prove to be a significant factor for the north Londoners.

“I’m trying to think of the last time we lost a European home game,” said Anderson, who captained Great Britain to IFAF international tournament success back in 2004.

“The good thing about being at home is we don’t have to travel. When we lost to Elancourt Templiers last year, we were without three starters due to the travelling.

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“This time we should have a very strong team going into the game. But this is going to be tough – I’ve watched a few of the Argonautes games and they seem to have quality players who know what they’re doing.

“We’ve been in Europe for a few years and seen quality opposition and I think they’re one of those quality sides this year. The league in France is very competitive and the Argonautes are doing very well in it.

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“So we’ve got a lot of respect for what they can do. This is the one that will really show us where we stand – if we can do well here then I’d fancy our chances of progressing.”

As well as assisting Blitz head coach Mark Moss – and coaching the GB Under-19 side – Anderson has also worked as the elite team’s defensive co-ordinator for the past eight years.

So far this season he has been pleased with the performances of the Blitz defence, who recorded a shut-out in their opening domestic league game, a 35-0 victory against his former club London Olympians.

And, although Blitz conceded a touchdown right at the start of their next fixture, a 55-13 win away to Bristol Aztecs, and another in the closing seconds, Anderson was not overly concerned.

“Their first touchdown was a communication issue – we had two guys who thought they were playing two different coverages, which left us a bit vulnerable at the back,” he added.

“Then for the last drive of the game we were getting everyone rotated and had a silly penalty. I didn’t think we deserved a shut-out, but we’ve got two wins.

“These games have worked well in terms of getting the team ready for the Argonautes. It’s got the players up to game speed, which is very different from what you’re doing in practice.

“For previous European games, we’ve always had a good crowd and a decent atmosphere and hopefully a lot of people will come down to watch what should be a good game of football.”

Blitz are hoping to include defensive back Stefan Rivera-Gonzalez, who is expected to recover from a calf strain, but wide receiver Jack Daley is struggling to be fit for the match, which kicks off at 3pm.

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