The 8th Annual ANZAC Cup, played in Villers-Bretonneux, France, was for the first time played following an official women’s match. If the women’s game was anything to go by this match was going to be a nail-biter.
The French side had a shaky lead up to this year’s game with a few late withdrawals causing some selection headaches for coach and Aussie expat, Andrew Unsworth. However, with the majority of their side having played together previously they were always going to ask some serious questions of the more fancied Australian outfit.
The first 10 minutes of the game were an arm wrestle. The Australian’s skills let them down and the French pressure added to those skill errors making their more experienced rivals look nervous with ball in hand.
Veteran, Adam Pearce, steadied the ship in the midfield with big ruckmen, Augustine Patti, opening the scoring for the Australians.
This didn’t deter the French side with their physicality and brutality around the contest keeping them well and truly in the game.
The match started to open up with both teams scoring at will. Fullback turned Full-Forward, Ben Quick, from Australia was too much for the French to handle, bagging a handful of goals in the first half.
Oliver Howard repelled the French attack and got the Aussies out of trouble on numerous occasions with his raking left foot.
The teams were only separated by a few goals going into the main break and on a small field the game could still go either way.
Only those within the inner sanctum know exactly what mercurial coach, Jason ‘Coach’ Cameron, said to the boys at the break but whatever it was it seemed to spark them into gear.
The game opened up for the Aussies. Kicks were hitting targets, tackles were sticking, and Big Ben Quick kept putting the ball through the big sticks
Dale Cox was a barometer for the Australians and despite leaving his passport back in London on the trip over, he certainly didn’t leave his kicking boots at home. Cox was lacing out kicks at will, not too unlike the lethal left of Stewy Dew circa 2008 Hawthorn Premiership year.
The Aussies ran away with it in the third piling on 9 unanswered goals. The premiership quarter proved just that with the French running out of steam and unable to close the gap.
Best on ground honours went to Ben Quick from Australia who finished the day with an incredible 10 goals. Not a bad return for a player who started the match at fullback. The French best on ground was awarded to Herve Desjardin who worked tirelessly all day and never gave up consistently putting on big hits and tackles making sure the Aussies had to work for every possession.