Contributed by: Brett Northey
Game three of the 2007 Convicts tour of South Africa saw the touring Aussies lose their first ever match under the Convicts concept, going down by seven points in one of the country's spiritual hearts - Soweto. Although the Australians were hampered by injuries, it sounds clear that the Africans have improved significantly and one must now wonder whether they will threaten the top group at the 2008 International Cup.
Tour leader Anthony Nanfra described the final game, against South Africa, as "a very hard fought match on probably the best ground we have played on". Encouragingly this was another sign of cooperation between cricket and Australian Football, something that may help fast-track Aussie Rules in South Africa whilst also helping cricket spread into black communities - if both sports see this benefit then more agreements should follow. It's easy to blame injuries on a loss, and Nanfra was keen that his comments to WFN not be seen as an excuse, but it is important in judging the result to have some idea of any factors that impeded the Convicts side. Of particular note were knee medial ligament damage to their dominant full forward and a broken bone in the hand of their ruckman amongst other injuries. Leading the Aussies Nanfra obviously has to stick up for his boys, but given the 2005 squad were never seriously threatened despite a relaxed approach in the games, clearly their opposition is on the rise. Taking all known factors into account, it might even be reasonable to suggest the African national side may have improved by ten goals in the last two year. The challenge for Convicts will be to organise a team to restore their pride in the next year or two - perhaps this journey is just beginning.
Nanfra's match report follows:
South Africa has showed it is a constant improver by posting its first ever win against the Convicts. Played at the picturesque Soweto cricket oval, the Convicts went into the match with numerous injuries which certainly would have ruled many players out but the players soldiered on against a fresh and pacy African outfit.
The first quarter showed the fast South African players kicking four goals to one with the Convicts clearly struggling with the pace of the game. In the second the Convicts hit back with the aid of a breeze, more direct play and a lift in intensity saw the Convicts down by one goal at the half. In the third it was very even with one goal to each team, the game played at a cracking pace with the Convicts still 2 goals in arrears with a quarter to go.
The last quarter was a classic with the Convicts throwing everything at the South Africans. The Convicts tried to peg the deficit (and) with one minute to go were 1 point behind but an on the siren goal from the South Africans made the final margin 7 points. South African players jubilant with their first win ever against the Convicts.
Convicts beaten but not disgraced weight of injuries taking its toll finally against a gallant group of players.
Australian Convicts: 1.0, 6.3, 7.3, 9.6 (60)
South Africa: 4.1, 7.3, 9.7, 10.7 (67)
Convicts: Chandler 5, Krake 3, Deano 1
South Africa: not available
Convicts: Rudd, Dhillon, Chandler, Deano, Millane, Krake
South Africa: Steven, D’nio, Opah
Played at Soweto cricket oval.
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