The 2017 AFL International Cup returned to Royal Park for the last time this year yesterday as teams battled it out for their closing position on the ladder in the Finals round. With the Men’s Division 1 and Women’s Division grand finals taking place at the MCG and Etihad Stadium today, there was certainly plenty of excitement in the air as teams prepared for their final matches of the tournament.
The French Coqs kicked things off once again with a bright and early match against the South African Lions. After a tough tournament for both teams, the French were eventually defeated after putting in a huge effort for their final game. The French showed how far they have come defensively and managed to whittle down their losing margin to 31 points. After being placed an the extremely competitive First Division, the French Coqs finished off the IC17 in 10th place.
The European Crusaders celebrated their first win of the tournament yesterday when they defeated Pakistan 64-6. After scoring only one point in their previous 4 matches, the Crusaders were elated to celebrate their first goal of the tournament, let alone the onslaught of goals that followed to result in them gaining their first victory. In a show of true sportsmanship, the Crusaders cheered alongside the Pakistan team when they too scored their first goal of the competition. The Crusaders finished off IC in 7th place on the Women’s Division ladder.
Next up was the match of the round – the Men’s Division 2 Grand Final, and all-Euro clash between the Croatian Knights and the German Eagles. After both having such successful results throughout IC17, this was always set to be a huge contest between two massive teams. With typical Melbourne weather conditions making playing almost impossible, it was the Croats who adapted better and dominated most of the match. The Croatians now have another trophy to add to their shelf after celebrating their 74-8 victory over a dejected Eagles side.
The GB Swans put on a show yesterday when they made a surprise comeback in the final minutes of the match to take out 3rd place in the Women’s Division. Their opponent, the USA side, looked likely to take home the victory before the a huge effort from the Swans saw them kick two goals in the final minutes and come out on top with a 32-25 win.
After narrowly missing out on making the Men’s Division 1 Grand Final when they were defeated by New Zealand in the semi finals, the Irish Warriors were never going to be content with fourth place and really put this to the test when they faced up to the USA yesterday. Despite being severely undermanned and injured, the Warriors left everything on the field to take out 3rd place on the ladder when they defeated the USA 48-16.
The closing match of the finals round saw the GB Bulldogs take on one of their toughest opponents, Nauru, in the fight for 5th place in the Men’s Division 1 competition. After a gruelling and physical match, the Nauru took things up a notch in the last half which saw them defeat the Bulldogs with a 21 point victory. The Bulldog’s have now finished in 6th place and are already looking to take out the Championship at the next IC.
Keep an eye out for the Women’s Grand Final match report, which sees the Irish Banshees taking on the Canadian Northern Lights this afternoon at Etihad Stadium as a curtain raiser for the Carlton and Hawthorn match in a rematch of the IC14 Grand Final.