Samoa triumphs in battle of the Bulldogs
Friday, August 05 2005 @ 02:57 am ACST
Contributed by: Jake Anson
Great Britain put up a good fight early on in the final match of Round 2, but they weren't able to contain a classy Samoan side as it ran away with the game in the second half.
From the outset the crowd anticipated a tight contest, as both sides are known for playing a tough, physical brand of football. Rob Burgess put the British Bulldogs up early in the first quarter when he slotted a goal from 25m directly in front with the wind. Samoa struck back shortly after, registering majors through Paul Maalona and Chris Teniselli to go to the quarter-time break with a 2.1 to 1.2 lead.
The second quarter remained tight, with heavy tackling and close physical pressure containing the ball in the centre square and on the wings for much of the time. Despite the occasional foray into attack by both sides, scores remained close at half time, with Samoa leading 2.2 to 1.2.
Samoa came out of the half-time huddle fired up and played like a different team. Long kicks started finding targets, whilst some courageous marks with the flight of the ball ensured that the Samoans had numerous scoring opportunities. Iosenesa Fatuele snapped an impressive goal from the pocket that drew murmurs of approval from the crowd, before Paul Wright kicked another major and Maalona slotted a set shot from 20m out on a 45 degree angle. The big forward set the crowd alight again moments later, snapping a goal across his body and creating a difficult situation for Great Britain. At three-quarter time Samoa led 6.6 to 1.2.
The British Bulldogs desperately tried to lift their game in the last quarter, but kicking into the breeze they struggled to make progress against a continually-improving Samoan outfit. Samoan captain Fia Tootoo crashed through packs and marked strongly, goaling twice in several minutes from set shots 40m out. Half-forward flanker Solomona Tualafo then excited with two goals snapped from the pocket - one of which was grounded when he kicked it. With Great Britain well-and-truly out of the game, full forward Maalona added his 4th for the afternoon, capping off an impressive performance by the Pacific Islanders.
One notable comment about the match was that the difference between the sides seemed to be a handful of very skilled Samoan players who currently play for Melbourne-based amateur clubs. Fia Tootoo, Paul Maalona, Paul Wright and Chris Teniselli all play for clubs in Melbourne's southern suburbs, and together they contributed 8 of the Samoan goals, assisted by several midfielders who consistently provided good passes in the second half. The experience gained through playing tough competition week-in, week-out obviously gave the Melbourne-based Samoans an advantage over their countrymen and opponents.
Samoa: 12.6 (78)
Great Britain: 1.2 (8)