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Sunday, December 17 2017 @ 01:37 am ACDT

Fiji apply pressure but GB Bulldogs hit targets

International Cup 2017

The Great Britain Bulldogs held off a spirited Fijian defence to take the win in their final round match yesterday. Whilst the Fijians were solid across halfback and through the midfield all day, they were unable to consistently find targets up forward, whilst the Bulldogs capitalised on their chances to accumulate a decent lead at each change.

With many onlookers rating both the Bulldogs and Fiji Tribe as big improvers from the IC14, Friday will see both sides go into their playoffs for 5th and 7th as probable favourites.

The game kicked off with the Bulldogs using a stiff breeze to their advantage in wintry conditions, Ryan Floyd and Andrew Coghlan kicking a goal each to give GB a 12 point advantage at the first break.

The second quarter saw the Fijians break the ice with Nawaqatabu slotting through a major. A combination of fierce pressure on the ground and windy conditions in the air were causing headaches for forwards, with both sides struggling to kick straight in front of goal, but majors to star forward Andrew Walkden and Seyonne Kidipillai extended the GB halftime lead out to 3 goals.

The third term continued to see the Fijians going hard at the ball, with the rugby experience of many squad members reflected in solid tackling and plenty of run. However, the Tribe could not hit their targets in the forward line, and the arm wrestle continued until a yellow card to one of the Fijians for a late bump saw the Bulldogs with one extra player on the field for ten minutes, during which they snagged two goals through David Hastie.

The final quarter saw both sides improve their efficiency in front of goal, both the Bulldogs and Tribe adding another 2 to their tally, but for Fiji it was too far gone. The Bulldogs ultimately 29-point winners.

Great Britain will meet Nauru on Friday in the playoff for 5th place. The Nauruans have the advantage of being the only side in competition where Australian rules is the undisputed national sport, and consequently look comfortable on the field, but they haven't been able to roll the top-tier sides of NZ, PNG or Ireland so far. The Bulldogs, having pushed the Irish hard in their third round match, would be keen to take a win in their final match and stamp their authority as a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

Fiji for their part will take on Canada, who have been somewhat unlucky this tournament, defeating the GB Bulldogs last Wednesday but not able to overcome Nauru, the US or New Zealand in a fairly tough draw. The Fijians will be confident they can win this one, but the Canadians will be equally keen to show their win over the Bulldogs was no fluke, and that they're stronger than 7th place would suggest.

Team1/41/23/4Final
Great Britain 2.3 4.5 6.5 8.8 (56)
Fiji 0.2 1.5 1.8 3.9 (27)

GOALS
Fiji: Jerry Vunitabua 1, Alipate Navuso 1, Nemani Qio Nawaqatabu 1.
Great Britain: Andrew Walkden 2, David Hastie 2, Ryan Floyd 1, Seyonne Kidnapillai 1, Marc Cashman 1, Andrew Cochran 1.

BEST
Fiji: Jerry Vunitabua, Jiuta Vateitei, Jonathan Macanawai, Leone Maiqereqere, Nemaia Bainimoli Waqa, Isei Moses.
Great Britain: Andrew Cochran, Ross Denton, David Hastie, Alex Watson, George Dibble, Andrew Walkden.

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