Northwind blow Icebreakers away

Thursday, August 28 2008 @ 12:05 am ACST

Contributed by: Troy Thompson

Canada’s big squad took on the undermanned Finland on the Western Oval. The conditions were fine with a light breeze across the ground, ironically it was a southerly but it would be the Northwind that would dominate the day. The Finns who started with a small squad on paper have lost one of those to a broken leg and had others withdraw prior to the first game. This saw them with little in reserve to what they could put on the field.

From the first bounce Canada came out strong and dominated the center clearances. They got the ball forward well but the Ice Breakers defence spoiled continually and captain Freddy Romar led the way. The Canadians were forced wide and put under pressure and they missed a lot of early shots before Murray Lovett finally broke through to score the first goal of the match for the Canadians. The Finns did not look at all out of place though, with good skills, linking up well with handball they looked like they may be able to get something started. But the experienced Canadians were relentless and finally broke through again through James Maitland who seemed to be running unmarked off wing for his country’s second goal. The Canadians took a 21 point lead into quarter time.

The second quarter saw the goal avalanche that had threatened in the first quarter come to pass. Aaron Falcioni and George Dimacakos goaled early for Canada. Jalmari Viima was doing well for the Icebreakers in the ruck and big Vesa Lindgren was doing a great job in defence but rolled an ankle and left the ground. The Scott Fleming show got underway as he led strongly at his Canadian teammates for two goals and then leading twice to the fat side goaled and then missed all in a matter of five minutes. Fleming has been a promising junior and recently moved to the Gold Coast to improve his footy. Big Chris Cunning provided a more stationary target for the Northwind but equally as effective in goaling just before half time. The Finns at halftime trailed by 60 points and it was not the ideal introduction for them to the International Cup.

After the half time break the Icebreakers came out and early on got the ball into their forward 50 but were unable to create a score. Canada continued to drive forward and Juha-Pekka Loven showed some strong resistance. But again it was just a matter of time before the Northwind scored and it was Cunning again providing the big target up forward goaling from close range. Minutes later he would goal again after being on the end of a chain of handballs started when Fleming played on from a mark in the pocket.

Finland began to put together some better passages of play out of their backline and through the midfield but they were unable to get shots at goal as the Canadian backline picked off their kicks. From here on the Finns looked a little tired as manning up and chasing began to drop off. Canada added goals from Cunning again and Daniel McIlravey who roved the loose ball from the pack. Canada’s lead was now 90 points as the three quarter time siren sounded.

Cunning kept on his merry way with another goal to start the quarter and big Matt Lowden was a popular goal scorer coming down from the backline to join in Canada’s goalkicking party. Further goals came including Fleming from the pocket, Rhys Harris on the run out of the center and Clayton Holmes. Finland got the ball forward one last time for what most watching hoped would be a score, but it was not to be. The final margin was 130 points to the Canadians.

The Icebreakers showed plenty of heart but seemed a little out of their comfort zone with the size of the ground and tired as the game went on. We were certainly impressed with their ability and style but on the day outdone by a much more experienced and well drilled opponent. The Canadians couldn’t be faulted on the day once they got the rusty kicking of the first quarter out of the way. Their multiple goal kickers looked very dangerous and move well and are well fed by an accurate and direct midfield.

With Ireland awaiting Finland they can likely expect more of the same. But as their coach Israel Barker said after the game “the guys now know what to expect”. Canada face Sweden who surprised a few with their competitive showing against the Irish today, but Canada should be too strong for them.

2.9 (21)1/40.0 (0)
8.12 (60)1/20.0 (0)
12.18 (90)3/40.0 (0)
18.22 (130)Full0.0 (0)

Goal Kickers: C. Cunning 6, S. Fleming 4, A. Falcioni, R. Harris, J. Maitland, D. Mcllravey, T. Dimacakos, C. Holmes, M. Lowden, M. Lovett
Best Players: J. Maitland, D. Simnett, C. Cunning, S. Fleming, M. Lowden, M. Lovett
Best Players: J. Saarinen, F. Romar, S. Doherty, I. Barker, J. Nieminen, K. Byrne

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