Contributed by: Matthew Guthrie
A sluggish looking Irish side came out to play an enthusiastic Samurai outfit at City Oval in Wangarrata today in the opening match of Round 4. The crowd came out in full support of their favourite team and there was a sea a green and red from the local school. Those in red put on a special traditional Japanese dance to give the Samurais some encouragement while those in Green used their strong voices.
Ireland, looking to insert some dominance on their opposition came out and made their intentions clear in the first quarter with Full Forward Cliff Richardson (18) providing a good tall target up putting on the first two goals of the match to give the Warriors a small break of 15 points going into the first change.
The Japanese used their small chipping game to full extent in the second term clearing themselves out of the danger area on many occasions only to have it breakdown in their half forward line by the resilient Irish Half backs. Neither side could take control of the game, with the only major being scored from a fast break out of the center from John Fahey (8) moving the ball in quickly to the tall forwards and Gerrard Johnson (11) crumbing the ball from the pack and kicking truly. The Irish went into the main break up 3.6 (24) to 0.0 (0).
The Japanese looked to have extra players on the field with the amount of space they had been given by the Irish allowing them to play the game on their own terms and this was addressed at half time by the Irish Coach when each and everyone of the Irish were told to be accountable for their opposite player.
A breakdown in the centre of the ground early in the third term created a loose man in the forward line for the Samurai and Yuta (21) ran into an open goal to give the Samurai a sniff at an upset. This appeared to sting the Irish into action and the intensity from the midfield and forwards appeared to lift and a quick reply from Richardson (18) followed. There was many free kicks given away by the Irishman in their own forward line which relieved the pressure on the Samurai and they managed to hang on and keep in the match at the last change.
The final term saw the Irish finally put to rest a persistent and competitive Japanese outfit with two goals to Brian O’Connell (17) and one to David Stynes (28) securing the win for the Irishmen by 47 points.
Although the scoreboard does not indicate it, the Irish would be disappointed in their performance on the day and the Japanese extremely happy to really put it to the Defending Champs and they can measure how far they have progressed. Ireland’s coach, Krizan Vekic, wasn’t entirely pleased with the performance but was satisfied that they had made the semi-finals and could now concentrate on winning their match against PNG with a place in the Grand Final on the line.
Ireland 7.11 (53)
Japan 1.0 (6)
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