Gallant Brits hold PNG until the sun shines

Sunday, August 07 2005 @ 10:08 am ACST

Contributed by: Brett Northey

The British Bulldogs are doing it tough at the 2005 International Cup. Their draw is one of the worst, facing what have proven to be 3 of the top 4 sides, in New Zealand, Samoa and PNG. And the British play a physical style of game, which must be taking its toll on their bodies. Today they faced one of the tournament's top fancies on a big ground

The Mosquitoes were looking to put their running, creative game into place against the Bulldogs, but didn't get things all their own way. Former AFL player Matt Connell, now coaching the British, appeared to employ a flood around the ball, so that most of the players were within 40 metres at any given time. When the PNG players tried to use their trademark evasive skills, they were always met by more red, white and blue jumpers to tackle them. The Mozzies couldn't kick long due to their lack of height in the contest and Britain dropping men back.

PNG were lucky to squeeze in a goal after the siren in the first quarter, but in the second quarter Vincent Carey goaled for the Bulldogs to pull the margin back, only to have Francis Navus score his second in reply. From memory PNG twice goaled after quarter-break sirens, yet went into half time with only a 16 point lead. The rain had been falling in dreary conditions, but Melbourne has continued to demonstrate why it is known as having four seasons in one day, as bright sunshine predominated in the second half. This seemed to lift the PNG spirits, perhaps because they rarely play in wet or cold conditions at home. Their run returned and soon Kila Pepe goaled from 45 metres after a mark that resulted from an excellent series of kicks down the ground. A big mark to Pepe again on 55m saw him try to score a huge goal, but it fell short, although only by a few metres. Another goal to Navus (his third) finished the game off.

Both sides have big matches ahead - Britain against fellow hard-luck story Canada, both sides winless, and PNG against the US, both sides without a loss.

Final scores

PNG 8.11 (59)
Great Britain 2.2 (14)

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