Warriors battle past South Africa
Tuesday, August 19 2014 @ 09:29 pm ACST
Contributed by: John Corrigan
The Irish Warriors dream of claiming back to back International Cup titles remains on track as they fought off a skilful South African Lions outfit to set up a grand final re-match with Papua New Guinea. Despite failing to register a score in the opening period the Warriors took control, nullifying the South African’s running game in the second half winning by 25 points.
The game started at a frantic pace with both sides nullifying the other through disciplined defence. The Irish were finding it difficult to find their tall forward targets with Padraig Lucey and Mick Finn being doubled teamed when on the lead. The Warriors suffered a blow with ruckman Paul O’Halloran being forced off with a shin injury as two behinds to South Africa saw them take a slender advantage into the first break.
Playing with the wind the Irish managed to impose themselves in the second quarter with David McElhone winning plenty of ball. He provided the spark for the first goal of the game as he picked out Lucey who marked and goaled from 30 meters. Their second followed quickly with player coach David Stynes goaling with an inspired left foot snap from the boundary. The Lions tried to hit back with Atang Moshoeshoe showing great run off half back and Khayalethu Sikiti winning the contested ball.
Their efforts proved fruitful as small forward Marco Mongia kicked the Africans first goal of the contest following a free kick from 35 meters. A snapped goal to Ronan Geraghty and a second to David Stynes stretched the Irish lead to 16 points at half time.
Within a minute of the re-start South Africa got back in the contest with a crumbed goal to Vuyisile Sokoyi following a monster 70 meter torpedo kick from Tshoboko Moagi. The Lions increased their intensity in the 3rd quarter and with TJ Moagi heavily involved they continued to make inroads into the Irish lead. A further goal to Moshoeshoe saw them narrow the gap to just 4 points but disaster struck for the Lions when a moment of ill discipline, 100 meters off the ball, led to Cameron Daly receiving a red card.
With the change in momentum evident, Mick Finn took a strong mark just 10 meters out for an easy conversion. A late goal to Bayanda Sobetwa kept the game in the balance going into the last break with Ireland only leading by 5 points.
Playing a man down began to take it toll on the Lions as the Irish dominated the final quarter with Dominic Joyce having an increased influence. He marked directly from a South African kick out, played on and kicked it straight over the goal umpires head for a major. Further goals to Lucey and Conor O’Halloran sealed the victory as the Irish eventually won by 25 points with the Lions unable to trouble the scorers in the final quarter.
Having only come together as a squad a few days before the tournament the Irish started slowly but have improved with every performance and appear to be hitting their stride going into the final. Their forward line did not function as they would have liked today but they did enough against a strong South African side. The Lions will be terribly disappointed as they were aiming to make the grand final for the first time. Having produced an outstanding performance to beat PNG on Saturday they now will have to regroup for the 3rd/4th place play off against New Zealand on Friday. While the Lions can take pride in the progress they have made since the 2011 event they are left to wonder what might have been. The Irish in contrast will eye the ultimate prize at the MCG as they attempt to become the first team in the short history of the tournament to win consecutive titles.
Ireland: 0.0 4.1 5.3 8.5 (53)
South Africa: 0.2 1.3 4.4 4.4 (28)
Ireland: Lucey 2, Stynes 2, Finn, Joyce, O’Halloran, Geraghty
South Africa: Mongia, Sokoyi, Moshoeshoe, Sobetwa
Ireland: Lucey, Joyce, McKloskey, Fanning, McElhorne, Stynes
South Africa: Funda, Pani, Phakedi, Mkhize, T.J Moagi, Moshoeshoe