Falcons keep that winning feeling
Tuesday, September 02 2008 @ 09:30 pm ACST
Contributed by: Troy Thompson
The Falcons got off to a good start with a goal to Moss Doran into the breeze. Samoan Joyner Key received a free kick from a tackle on Mitchell Mace but kicked a behind. At the other end Moss Doran had another shot but this time wide, the wind really grabbing the ball before Lewis Hurst was able to gather a loose ball 20m out to goal. The Falcons added another and just as it looked like New Zealand would completely dominate, the Samoans started to use the breeze with some longer kicks, Fia Too-too marked a low bullet pass but was unable to convert the set shot. After unsuccessfully trying to wrest back possession the Falcons defender gave a free kick for over the shoulder to Amosa who added what would be Samoa’s only goal from 20 metres out. The Falcons lifted again to maintain possession and after one unsuccessful venture to goal that was again taken by the wind, goaled after Nic Cunneen gave a centering handball to Moss Doran. New Zealand led by 17 points at half time.
Rain was now coming in and the ball was already slippery. The second quarter was a touch battle with the Samoans showing the Falcons that they would not be getting easy access to the ball. Tackling was constant from both sides and kicks went astray around the ground. Congalton’s kicks were going astray with two early behinds. Faavae Amosa was good in the midfield and countering the strong Kiwi attack. Andrew Buckthought was getting plenty of it and sending it forward, Richard Bradley was unable to goal from multiple shots but things were starting to build for the Falcons as they started to hold their marks even in mostly contested situations. Indeed Nic Cunneen goaled after a third consecutive marking contest went his team’s way. Soon after Andrew Congalton was able to goal again when Tapu Junior Feilo was able to spoil the pass to Richie Marsden but Congalton roved the punched ball. Bowden and Gunning lead the way for New Zealand as they took a 34 point lead into half time.
If it was wet before, it was really wet now. The slog continued and it occasionally looked like the Samoans might get on top, but the disciplined NZ team held firm and had the better finish around the ground and ultimately gave the Samoans the run around. The only goal for the quarter came from Marsden who received a handball from Morgan Jones in the goal square and made no mistake. The Samoans just couldn’t make good use of the breeze as the Falcons zoned off. Simona Faauliuli, Feilo and Litala Toleafoa stood out for the Samoans in a defence that was heavily tested. 42 points at three quarter time in these conditions looked more than enough.
With the breeze in their favour and the Samoans looking to have lost some interest Cunneen, Gunning and Andriu Sucu running off half back all goaled early on. From here it was a tough slog to the finish with plenty of wayward kicking. Samoa lifted their game again and made some unsuccessful moves forward, continually cut off by the Falcons defence. The final margin was 63 points and New Zealand was never seriously trouble even though Samoa showed plenty of grit and moments of tough and clever football.
NZ 10.11 (71) to Samoa 1.2 (8)
Goal Kickers: M. Doran 3, N. Cunneen 2, R. Marsden, A. Congalton, P. Gunning, L. Hurst, A. Sucu
Best Players: M. Doran, P. Gunning, S. Whitehead, A. Buckthought, A. Congalton, L. Hurst
Goal Kickers: F. Amosa
Best Players: S. Faauliuli, S. Faaee, L. Ropeti, M. Leusogi, M. Mulippla, J. Betham