Contributed by: Michael Christiansen
Lunch time footy from Ransford Oval with Womens pool B combatants Papua New Guinea Flames taking on the European Crusaders. The Flames with youth on their side but would have to adapt to the wintry conditions that prevailed at the start of the match. The Crusaders on the other hand - a very much an unknown quantity and their limited squad is pretty much their match day line-up.
Running onto Ransford Oval suddenly seemed an ordeal in itself for the Flames - as the drizzle set in the wind blew up. Would the wet favour the Crusaders - in perhaps more European conditions than the tropical climes of PNG.
With the toss won by the Crusaders, and the option to kick with the chill breeze to the southern end. Drizzle proving the order of the day as the game got under way.
The early stages of the contest saw the difference in the sides become stark. The Flames more slick even in the conditions. The first quarter was largely played in the Flames half. After a couple of early behinds including livewire forward pocket Tonok Hedwick (#4) hitting the post – it was Hedwick who put the first major through after a free kick in the right forward pocket at the Northern end. Slotting the angle shot neatly. Kaipu (#21) was also proving a handful for the Crusaders defence and hit the scoreboard for a couple of goals from general play where the cleaner handling and quicker hands were giving the Flames more chance to finish their work. Centre clearances were giving the Flames first use and the Crusaders were struggling to transition out of defence.
The 2nd quarter saw the Flames take over in the early stages – dominating play. And early goal via a classy finish from Hedwick (#4) swooping on the loose ball in the forward pocket after an errant kick in. However – from there on the Flames failed to gain reward for their work, a succession of behinds as their score progressed from 4.5 to 4.9. By now the Crusaders were finding their feet and defensively they were digging in and able to pressure the Flames. Barisic (#22) was working hard in the backline. The ruck duel between Gardell (#9) and PNG’s #13 – was proving a highlight of the day. Rositano (#1) was also fighting hard in the mids against IC11 veteran Taiva Lavai (#15). The Crusaders – against the breeze – would have been delighted to contained the Flames to just the 1 goal for the term.
The third quarter saw the weather clearing but instead of the Flames taking advantage the game became a hotly contested affair. A last line of defence mark to Duquet (#4) set the theme for the Crusaders - defending grimly and while the Flames kept pumping the ball back in – it was the Crusaders who fought doggedly to repel time and time again. The Flames started getting a little frustrated and were trying too hard which suited the Crusaders as their tackling pressure was rewarded. The Crusaders got as close as they would – pushing deep forward however unable to hit the scoreboard. The Portal twins – captain Berenegere (#7) and Camille (#40) were lifting their work rate and the arm wrestle saw the Flames held goalless for the term. Another victory of sorts to the Europeans.
As the final term got underway the sun was again shining – not so much warming – just shining. The Flames regained control with 2 quick goals – again the dangerous Hedwick (#4) featuring with another fine finish from her favoured right forward pocket angle. From there on the Flames peppered again to run out comfortable victors. The Crusaders could be proud of their application as they refused to give in and will be better for the run.
Post game great spirit was shown as both teams gathered in a circle midfield and cheered each other and the umpires.
|Avg Ht cm||163||165|
|Avg Wt kg||59||62|
|Ransford Oval 12:15 pm
PNG Flames vs European Crusaders
PNG : Hedwick 3, Sindriwen, Ester Malabag, Lai 1
PNG :Hedwick, Emil, Lavai, Sovara, Lai, Agita
Europe :Duquet, Perez, Wood, C.Portal, King, Rositano
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