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Kiwi machine rolls on and over Samurai

International Cup 2008

Reigning International Cup champions New Zealand got the business done against one of the mid-ranked sides in Japan. The final margin of 92 points was an excellent result for the talented Falcons, although the general feeling amongst onlookers was that they didn't move the ball as well as expected given they are widely seen as the favourites in a competition that is improving amongst the top countries.

The Samurai have found a few taller players since 2005 which should help their cause against other sides of similar ability. They were generally more athletic than last time, but were up against a strong outfit in a tough first hitout. Some of the stars from the last Cup were again prominent, such as captain Andrew Congalton and last Cup's grand final leading goal-scorer James Bowden, sporting something along the lines of a rats-tail, following up a distinct bleached blond look in '05.

The biggest difference between the sides was the bigger bodies of New Zealand giving their players an opportunity to use the ball better when under pressure. A much stronger aerial presence all across the ground was also a key advantage for the men from Aotearoa.

Japan were also hindered by the loss of their fullback Hiroaki Seino due to concussion. The vice captain is one of their few taller players (at 181 cm) and is in doubt for the next round. There was also an off the ball incident which one observer described as a cheap shot, but with no major damage - this reporter didn't see the incident so cannot confirm or deny. To be honest, we were doing double-duty covering two matches, so haven't quite done full justice to this game.

Japan's Team Manager, Jim Young (pictured below), whose international footy experience goes right back to before the old IAFC proposed the first International Cup, was upbeat despite the heavy loss. "We were disappointed with the result but we were satisfied to hold New Zealand to that score". Where the staff were not so pleased was when the game plan broke down. "We didn't stick to our game plan which was to kick long to space to get over their bigs. In the third quarter the breeze picked up and it started working for us but of course.... in the fourth quarter it was against us and they started kicking goals". In fact the Kiwis booted four, their best quarter of the match.

New Zealand face the newest faces in International Cup competition, India, in what unfortunately looks like being a bit of a train wreck for the world's second most populous nation. Japan's match against Samoa should be one of the best in Round 2, with the big bodied, hard tackling islanders against the fleet-footed Samurai in what will be a very tough match in which to pick a winner.

New Zealand
Goal Kickers: R. Bradley 5, G. Rattenbury 2, L. Ackland, J. Bowden, A. Congalton (C), S. Browne, N. Cunneen, P. Gunning
Best Players: D. Rattenbury, R. Bradley, A. Crighton, L. Ackland, A. Congalton (C), J. Bowden
Best Players: T. Kase, H. Tohyama, S. Yokoyama, K. Ikeda, M. Sakaki, R. Saito

New ZealandJapan
3.3 (21)1/40.1 (1)
8.5 (53)1/20.1 (1)
9.9 (63)3/40.2 (2)
13.13 (91)Full0.2 (2)

Japan Team Manager Jim Young

NZ captain Andrew Congalton soars above the pack

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Kiwi machine rolls on and over Samurai | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Kiwi machine rolls on and over Samurai
Authored by: Christopher P. Adams, Ph.D. on Thursday, August 28 2008 @ 04:47 am ACST
Great job on the game coverage guys!

Carna Revos!


Kiwi machine rolls on and over Samurai
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Thursday, August 28 2008 @ 09:55 am ACST

I can certainly agree that a team like the Samurais must get that ball at ground level contests as much as possible. Too many kicks were marked by Kiwi defence. And too many of those were uncontested.

The Samurais, always look good in the warm up.

On these large ovals, it can be very, very hard to score goals - - it's a long, long way to rebound from defence. So, centre clearances become all the more important.

The Samurais though, probably need to pray for rain when taking on the Kiwis.

Kiwi machine rolls on and over Samurai
Authored by: Cogs on Thursday, August 28 2008 @ 02:43 pm ACST

Is there going to be any footage posted? Would be interesting to see this so-called off the ball incident, seeing as the author did not sight it.

Kiwi machine rolls on and over Samurai
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, August 28 2008 @ 03:57 pm ACST

Sorry Cogs, footage is going to be very limited, and we don't have anything from that alleged incident. It was borderline whether to report it, and I assumed some New Zealanders may feel it unwarranted, so I weighed it up and decided to include it but made it clear it was a comment by a third party. These things happen, and maybe if there was a fourth witness they'd say there was nothing in it. The Japan management listed the concussion as the only major injury for the match, and that was unrelated and they didn't suggest anything untoward about it.

I'm guessing NZ will feel better for having had the run and look to peak at the business end, as they didn in 2005?

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Kiwi machine rolls on and over Samurai
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, August 28 2008 @ 04:03 pm ACST

BTW, great fly for the mark there. I assume that the Japanese fist punched the ball though?

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN