We are underway here in Royal Park, Melbourne, Australia after a huge build up with the Launch and Parade of nations into the home of football, the MCG, yesterday.
The European teams started the day in mixed fashion with the Finns coming up against a strong USA outfit and the Irish Banshees getting away to a strong start against new kids on the block Fiji.
Match reports below:
USA REVOLUTION V FINLAND ICEBREAKERS MATCH REPORT
The USA got off to a blistering start in the opening term kicking the first 9 Goals of the game in the first quarter. Their big full forward, Chet Ridenour booted a bag and Kevin Stanley also looked dangerous up forward with two long goals. The height of team USA seemed to be giving the Icebreakers the most trouble with their three tall forwards proving too much for the Finland defence.
In the second quarter, the USA again shot away kicking the first goal within seconds of the siren sounding. Finland looked stronger in defence and they appeared to be slowing down the USA’s run initially. The Icebreakers’ pressure caused the USA to kick a number of behinds but to little prevail as the USA continued to pile on the majors.
Much of the same was shown by both teams in the third term with the USA well and truly staking their claim as one of the contenders for International Cup glory. The majority of the play remained in the Revolution’s forward half which allowed the Finnish defence a chance to stand up.
Kaj Karlsson showed precision with his kicking on both sides of his body and never gave up in defence however the dominance of the USA forwards continued.
The USA gave away nothing in the final quarter and they eventually ran out comfortable winners. Mika Kupila was a standout player for Finland and for the USA, Ben Carpenter-Nwanyanwu was dominant through the midfield.
Finland Icebreakers: 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 (1)
USA Revolution: 9.1 16.6 21.8 27.17 (182)
USA: Werner 4, Dragus 3, Wallach 3, Johnson 3, Floyd 2, McClure 2, Fischer 2, Fashant 2, Stanley 1, Wilhelm 1, Levesque1, Lehane 1
USA: McGettigan, Fashant, Floyd, Tyebjee, Werner, Levesque
Finland: Aalto, Romar, Puntilla, Karlsson, Nurmikoski, Saarinen
Womens Division- IRELAND BANSHEES VS FIJI VONU
Ireland came out pumped up and scored 3 goals in the first 3 minutes in what looked like ominous signs for the rest of the match. The Fijian’s who were playing their first ever game of AFL together began to realise their strength lay in the physical aspects of play. The rest of the game became a tightly contested match.
Whilst there was some good link up play with handball it was a mostly scrappy affair until the final quarter when the banshees begun to shake off their cobwebs.
The banshee’s will need to improve over the tournament in order to defend it’s title from 2011 but time is on their side.
Ireland Banshees: 5.1 5.6 7.7 10.7 (67)
Fiji Vonu: 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 (6)
Ireland: Rafferty 2, Dempsey 2, Mahony 1, McGahon, Lousie Hazley, L Corrigan, Roarty, Shrubsall
Ireland: Corrigan, Kelly, Keatley, Rafferty, Dempsey, McCann
Fiji: Nabalarua, Matanisigadrau, Buidravo, Katonivere, Matakibau, Tadrau
GB BULLDOGS v FRENCH COQS
GB entered the match with a much improved squad from 3 years ago and some confidence of a good showing. The French had been in Australia for the best part of a week holding numerous training sessions to bring their squad together for this grudge match.
The Bulldogs brought an uncompromising game with them from the outset and at times were physically dominant. The French played in patches of good form but were unable to sustain the effort for long enough periods to really bother the sharp GB side.
With many players on he the GB side having benefitted from the last three Easter series and Titans matches the youth really showed the way with Walton, Ballard, Willat and Scotsman Andy Smith.
France have a tough draw at this tournament and will need to bring their best form into the next two matches to ensure an improved result from 2011. With the support from their ambassador Dan Jackson (Richmond FC) on the sidelines it is sure to happen.
GB also have another couple of gears to find if they want to best some of the best performing teams this year such as USA, NZ, PNG, Ireland and Canada who all looked very sharp on Day 1.
Great Britain Bulldogs: 5.5 8.10 10.13 12.18 (90)
French Coqs: 0.0 0.1 0.1 1.1 (7)
Great Britain: Pitman 2, Rymer 2, Mitchell 2, Maguire 2, Saunders, Brown, Smith, Talbot
Great Britain: Rymer, Mitchell, Trigg, Maguire, Matias, Ryland
France: Patacq, Schieber, David, Gazeau, L, Hotellier, Dandaleix
SWEDISH ELKS V NEW ZEALAND HAWKS
A big crowd gathered at the start of the match for what is sure to be one of the games of the first round. The New Zealand Hawks kicked off festivities with the Haka and the first goal of the match, kicked by Shane Leat. Strong defensive efforts from both teams resulted in an entertaining first quarter in which Sweden were unable to register a score.
Christopher Mundell kicked off proceedings for NZ in the second quarter booting a couple of majors. Despite the occasional flashes of brilliance from the Elks, the Hawks were completely in control of the game and went into the half time break with a 12 goal lead.
The final half followed the same pattern as the first with NZ continuing to pile on the goals. The Swedes fought gallantly but were completely outplayed in this first round match.
Sweden: 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 (0)
New Zealand: 5.4 11.8 17.14 24.18 (162)
New Zealand: Christensen 4, Van Wijk 3, Mundell 3, Tipene-Thomas 2, Baker-Thomas 2, Inglis 2, Toomer 2, Clark 2, Leat 1, McKenzie 1, Roughan 1, Simpson 1.
Sweden: Persson, Tellstrom, Koinberg, Magnusson, Navarro, Nilsson
New Zealand: Christensen, Miller, Roughan, Leat, Van Wijk, Rattenbury
IRISH WARRIOS V FIJIAN TRIBE
Defending champions Ireland had a stern test first up playing a tough and physical Fijian side that win division 2 last time around and by all reports had improved significantly over the last three years.
Fiji set the tone for the match when 2 minutes into the game their key defender clashed hard and high with young gun Murius Bartley leaving him slightly concussed and receiving a red card for the incident. Thankfully Bartley was soon spotted up and about later. The Fijians were forced to play the rest of the game with 17 players which proved difficult.
Ireland’s field kicking and ball movement was ok throughout the game but they will very much see this match as blowing out the cobwebs. Other gears will need to be found as the tournament progresses if this team is to return to the Emerald Isle with the cup.
The local players will need to gel with the Australian based guys quickly to ensure the team performances lift. Fiji will rue the early send off and now hope to win the remaining group games.
Ireland: 2.1 4.2 7.6 9.8 (62)
Fiji: 0.1 1.2 1.2 1.4 (10)
Ireland: Finn 3, McCloskey 1, Joyce 1, Leavy 1, Tubridy, Faning, Henry
Ireland: Finn, O’Regan, Tubridy, Geraghty, Browne, Skelly
Fiji: Wolfgramm, Vunitabua, Valetri, Vateeitei, Raida, Ratu