Contributed by: Brett Northey
In perhaps one of the most surprising results of the international football year Chile's Los Santos (The Saints) have defeated the touring Convicts side in Santiago, inflicting possibly only their second loss (the first in 2007 to the South African national side in Soweto).
It's difficult to gauge the standard of play in South America given that there are few clubs and until now no cross-over matches against teams from other continents. And although the Convicts is a tourist group of Australian footballers which changes every year, they normally provide a good contest that is more than enough to defeat the locals. Of course the calibre of any particular tour party is unknown and these matches are friendlies so you can't be sure how determined to win each team was, and the South Americans appeared to have some expat-Aussie assistance, but still, it was obviously a fine victory for the locals and should provide them with confidence and motivation to keep growing the game moving forward.
¡Felicidades a todos en Los Santos!
The following report is courtesy of Pedro Chapman, President Santiago Saints Australian Football Club.
In perfect conditions at The Grange School in Santiago, on Thursday October 21st, the Santiago Saints Australian Football Club (Los Santos) recorded its most memorable victory in its short but proud history. Playing against a touring Australian team “The Convicts”, which was made up of passionate and quality footballers from all over Australia, Los Santos showed why they remain undefeated and the force in Australian Football in South America - running out winners 69 to 55 and claiming the inaugural José Romero Cup. This game made history as it was the first time that a touring team from Australia played a game of Australian Football in South America, and it was also the first time that Los Santos have played an international match on home soil.
With the game getting underway at 6.00pm, and after the traditional playing of the national anthems of both team's countries, it was obvious from the first bounce that this was going to be a tough battle. The Convicts, while controlling the play early, were not able to capitalise on the scoreboard and were surprised by the constant pressure from the Los Santos players who refused to be intimidated, playing to the best of their abilities and showing remarkable composure to stay in touch with the visitors throughout the game. With the defensive pressure from Los Santos' players Seb “Esky” Zuñiga, Hegel “Mono” Ossa and Tiki “D-Fence” Boekemeyer, the Convicts were never able to break the game open as they were hoping to do and rarely got an easy possession all game.
With the scores locked at 41 a piece at the third quarter break, Los Santos made a number of changes to the line up which paid dividends in the last quarter, where their run and intensity proved decisive and saw them kick four goals to two to hold out the Convicts and win by 14 points. Esteban “Buckets” Smith worked tirelessly all day in the ruck and the defensive efforts of “Mini” Mike Fletcher and Alex “Croweater“ O’Keefe, who not only restricted the Convicts forwards but provided plenty of defensive rebound, gave the Saints forwards plenty of opportunity in the last quarter. Iain “Beaker” Last was damaging with his final quarter goals (three) and Javier “Hungry” Reyes could have made the margin even greater had he been able to kick accurately - however his contested overhead marking was a highlight of the final term.
The Convicts were gracious in defeat and were impressed by the standard of football played throughout the match (and would have been feeling some pain on the flight to Argentina the next morning I am sure). Our sincere thanks go out to the Convicts for providing developing clubs in all parts of the world with the valuable experience of playing tough competitive football against quality opposition, and for helping us raise the profile of the sport here in Chile.
Prior to the match the Convicts held an Australian Football clinic for the students of The Grange School, which was extremely well received and thoroughly enjoyed by the children who participated. After the match players and supporters enjoyed an excellent BBQ and some “refreshments” and continued to share the experience well into the night. The Convicts continue their South American tour with games against Argentina and Brazil before returning to Australia.
For Los Santos this was a fantastic effort and one which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the players and supporters who were at the ground. With the 2010 football season drawing to a close this victory will be marked as the highlight of the year, and proves that Australian football is alive and well with a bright future here in Chile. As club President, I am extremely proud of the efforts of all of our players in contributing to this historic victory, which will be talked about for a long time to come and should also encourage more players to join this exciting sport.
Special thanks to our major sponsor Orica who have been supportive of Australian football in Chile since Los Santos was formed in 2008, to our match day sponsors Pacific Hydro, and to all of the family and friends who came along to provide their support. As a small club we could not survive and stage events like this without the continued support of our sponsors, and we are pleased to be able to reward their support with success such as this. My personal thanks to Adrian “Barrassi” Barraza, Mario “Zoolander” Pavez and Eric “Go-Pies” Gayfer for their work in making this happen.
Final Scores: 69 - 55
Best players on the day for Los Santos were: Mike Fletcher, Alex O’Keefe, Javier Reyes, Iain Last, Gino Roberts, Tiki Boekemeyer, Esteban Smith
Convicts Medal - Best Los Santos Player - Mike Fletcher
Rob Spurr Medal - Best Convicts Player - Damian
Mark of the Day - Damian - an incredible screamer over the Saints ruckman which was an absolute highlight and one of the greatest marks you could expect to see in any league!
Goal of the Day - Pedro "Pres" Chapman
Thanks to all the people who made this day a success and GO SAINTERS!!
Los Santos is proudly sponsored by Orica, Honorary Patron – Virginia Greville, Australian Ambassador to Chile
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