Wonderful Wangaratta Round 4 as teams prepare for International Cup finals

Wednesday, August 10 2005 @ 07:39 am ACST

Contributed by: Brett Northey

The decision to stage a round of the 2005 International Cup in a country region has proven to be a great success. Round 4 was held in Wangaratta, about 230km northeast of Melbourne. Organised in conjunction with the Victorian Country Football League and V-Line trains, the trip included an official welcome, matches at City Oval and Showgrounds, and a dinner at the Town Hall. With local school children getting time off and becoming involved in the multicultural event, there was a great atmosphere at the two grounds. Country folk have a full appreciation for grassroots footy, and many comments were heard noting just how committed and hard at the ball the players were.

In the first match Ireland showed some signs of getting their vaunted running game going, doing enough to defeat Japan comfortably, with the Asian side starting to look rather battered but still playing with pride. Two winless teams in Great Britain and Canada battled it out in a tough, tight match. Both have had luckless tournaments and difficult draws. The Canadians were the country to again suffer, with yet another narrow defeat, this time by 2 points. We tipped it would be close but thought the Canadians might have snuck home. Remarkably they have a reasonable percentage yet no wins. In one of the blockbuster matches Papua New Guinea seemed too strong for the United States, but two late goals got the Americans to within 1 point, only to have the final siren sound. South Africa notched their second win, with a solid victory over new team Spain. In the other big match, the strong Samoan team faced off against undefeated New Zealand. In a tournament highlight the Kiwis performed their Haka, only to have the Samoans respond midway with their Siva Tau, with the teams meeting face to face and indeed a bit of bumping ensured. But the standout of the entire day was the New Zealand performance. They were simply awesome as they moved the ball cleanly all day, winning by a big margin and stamping themselves as the competition benchmark. Top AFL talent scout Kevin Sheehan was even impressed, suggesting some of the Kiwis could be VFL material.

The first round of finals is next. The two semi-finals see New Zealand play the USA and PNG take on Ireland. The winners play in the Grand Final at the MCG before the Carlton versus Collingwood match. The USA have impressed but even on the smaller fields at Murphy Reserve in Port Melbourne it's hard to see them getting close to New Zealand. PNG versus Ireland is essentially too close to call. Both have under-performed whilst still being amongst the best sides. PNG might have something extra in reserve, but just maybe Ireland's size will sway things to the Emerald Isle - but surely there will be less than two goals in it either way. In the lower place finals Canada should at last succeed, at Spain's expense, Great Britain may upset the battle-scarred Japanese, and Samoa versus South Africa could go either way, but on the smaller ground, Samoa's body size might just get them over the line in a tight one. Anyone in Melbourne should get themselves down to Murphy Reserve Port Melbourne on Thursday 11th August to see some tense and passionate games of footy, international style.


New Zealand 4 0 582
PNG 4 0 160
Ireland 3 1 276
USA 3 1 155
South Africa 2 2 119
Samoa 2 2 93
Japan 1 3 73
Great Britain 1 3 32
Canada 0 4 80
Spain 0 4 14

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