Contributed by: Tobietta Rhyman
Playing Great Britain was not something South Africa had figured on when they reviewed the IC11 draw. Their aim was always to return to the top four semi-finals, but after losing to the United States last Sunday at ANZ Stadium the Africans had to re-group to at least ensure they didn't slide too far. For the Bulldogs it was a chance to claim the scalp of one of the top group of countries.
The Lions were looking strong coming onto the field, fast paced play with great kicking and marking skills slicing through the British Bulldogs midfield and defence for the opening goal. But the Bulldogs were pushing to move up the rankings as well and were giving it everything they had. Their initial possession play was surprisingly effective against the long-kicking Lions and they also got a few chances in the first quarter, but the Brits only managing to take back a behind out of the early South African lead.
The Lions came out quickly again after the break and soon got a behind, then getting onto the kick out and finishing it with a goal. Though the Bulldogs were using more kicks to try and get upfield, the Lions’ dominance in midfield meant the ball kept coming back at them, and the South Africans are no strangers to long kicks. With the accuracy of a pro, the ball was delivered from the edge of the 50m line straight through the posts for goal number three.
Again the Lions tried to finish off the Bulldogs early, but their opening shot went out on the full. The British boys used this pause to break the South Africans’ momentum and got their first goal. The usually skilled South Africans fumbled the ball a few times and even panicked in tight play as the larger Bulldogs closed in. However, the Brits’ failed to man up, providing the Lions the open space they needed for their fast kick-relay style of play, and they served up two more goals, hoping to silence the Bulldogs. But the spirited Bulldogs came snarling back, wrenching back another goal before three quarter time.
The pride of Great Britain had worked hard throughout the game but were looking tired by the fourth quarter and South Africa, seemingly with energy to spare, started to rise up and got another goal. Somehow the Bulldogs managed to hold the Lions to just three behinds and again breaking the momentum, turned the play around again and made it up the other end of the field finishing with a behind.
Some consolation for South Africa and they now play off for 5th against Nauru, while the Brits take on regular European foe Denmark for 7th.
Final Score: South Africa 7.9 (51) defeated GB Bulldogs 2.3 (15)
Goal Kickers: Sobetwa, Thiboeng, Matshane 4
Best Players: Sobetwa, Matshane, Moagi, Mbalo, Gamakhulu, Motuba
Goal Kickers: Mercer, Tarn
Best Players: Walton, Whiteley, Matias, Mercer, Harris, Harmeston
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