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Monday, July 22 2019 @ 07:36 pm ACST

South Africa Lions Too Polished For Tonga Thunder

International Cup 2014

Teams in the International cup face the same dilemma as do AFL sides these days. Not only do they have to improve but face improved opposition. Reading the first round reports the South Africans easily accounted for a locally assembled Pakistan not unexpectedly.

Tonga also easily accounted for an improved India. Considering the scorelines are very similar, this promised to be an even and interesting affair. The weather was fine and cool perfect for football, the anthems and chants finished. Time for the game to begin.

Tonga Thunder did well to contain the South African Lions who seemed to be wanting to burst the game open. The Thunder held firm in defence and grafted an attack. Then #20 Tshoboko J. Moagi with positioned himself well to drill a goal 45m out on the 45 degree. Shortly after his lead up work resulted in another goal.

Playing an attractive brand of football the Lions got it down to goalsneak #1 Vuyisilie Sokoyi who snapped truly over his shoulder. That was followed by an even better snap from #2 Tevita Tohi Maamaloa .

Weight of numbers then led to a goal by #17 Khayalethu Yandisa Sikiti. The Thunder replied with a great long goal from#3 Feleti JR Ta’ai which gave the Thunder some hope going into the main break.

Tonga broke into 3 player groups whilst the Lions had a quiet word. This approach worked for the Thunder. They came out with a big centre bounce down punch from #11 Malaki Finau Fukkofuka which resulted in a quick minor score and he took some good marks throughout the game. The Lions were feeling the pressure especially the player on the end of a flying horizontal rugby tackle but they were able to convert from their limited “inside 50s” whilst the Thunder couldn’t.

There was more good work from Thunder #11 Malakai Finau Fukofuka , defensive marks from #4 Slone Fetu ‘U’Aho Halafuka and some good groundwork from the diminutive #6 Kelekolio Kolofale. A bit of “feeling” crept into the game when a Thunder player careered into the Lions bench. The pressure was relieved a bit when a great handoff from a free kick allowed #20 Tshoboko J. Moagi to drill a long shot. The Thunder attacked but a pattern was emerging with #20 Tshoboko J. Moagi finding #17 Khayalethu Yandisa Sikiti.

On paper, the third quarter seems to be owned by the Lions. Indeed I did see at least three passes from Lions #20 directly to #17, but it took a long time for the Lions to find some space and for #30 Corne Duvenage to mark and goal. The Thunder managed to graft themselves into a scoring position only for the Lions to rebound a way. Thunder defence held sway but ultimately late goals mean the Lions had scored four for the quarter.

That could have been the opening of the flood gates but #11 again had the ruck motivated, getting the ball out to the small forward in their #6 and the Thunder held firm until the familiar combination of the Lions #20 to #17 led to another two late goals.

Undoubtedly the Lions play a very attractive athletic brand of football displaying all the skills so it is very commendable that the Tonga Thunder was able to slow the game down and in effect become the “stoppage kings” of the game.

South Africa5.17.211.413.4 (82)
Tonga1. (17)
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