A quick note to say that Spain have withdrawn from Qualifying Final A, which was scheduled for 10am on Thursday 11th August 2005. They are a very new Aussie Rules nation and came to the Cup with a small squad. Having suffered several injuries they were reduced to 15 players on the field (instead of 18) in their last match, so the forfeit to Canada is no surprise. Although the Northwind will enjoy the rest, no doubt they had been looking forward to chalking up their first win in more fulfilling circumstances.
The decision to stage a round of the 2005 International Cup in a
country region has proven to be a great success. Round 4 was held in
Wangaratta, about 230km northeast of Melbourne. Organised in conjunction with
the Victorian Country Football League and V-Line trains, the trip
included an official welcome, matches at City Oval and Showgrounds, and a
dinner at the Town Hall. With local school children getting time off and
becoming involved in the multicultural event, there was a great
atmosphere at the two grounds. Country folk have a full appreciation for
grassroots footy, and many comments were heard noting just how committed
and hard at the ball the players were.
A sluggish looking Irish side came out to play an enthusiastic Samurai outfit at City Oval in Wangarrata today in the opening match of Round 4. The crowd came out in full support of their favourite team and there was a sea a green and red from the local school. Those in red put on a special traditional Japanese dance to give the Samurais some encouragement while those in Green used their strong voices.
Papua New Guinea held out a fast finishing USA outfit by the smallest of margins in the second match at City Oval in Wangaratta in an action packed display of International Australian Rules football. The crowd really got behind both sides as the USA fought back from a 15 point deficit with 3 minutes to go to get within 1 point at the final siren.
At the Wangaratta Showgrounds the New Zealand Falcons displayed a brand of football that may be the best yet seen in international footy, ruthlessly disposing of Samoa and sending a message to the other semi-finalists.
Only four teams are still in the race for the trophy in this year's International Cup, with all other sides playing off for rankings on Thursday and Saturday.
Papua New Guinea and Ireland will meet in one semi final on Thursday, New Zealand and USA in the other. The winners of these two fixtures will then meet at the MCG in the final, as a curtain-raiser to the AFL blockbuster between Carlton and Collingwood.
In Round 4 of International Cup action, the people of Wangaratta have so far been treated to two nail-biters and three convincing wins.
In the close games, Papua New Guinea defeated the USA by a single point (7.5.47 to 7.4.46) and Canada's severe run of bad luck saw them lose to Great Britain by two points, 3.7.25 the Bulldogs to 3.5.23 the Northwind.
In other matches, South Africa 12.12.84 defeated Spain 2.1.13, Ireland 7.11.53 defeated Japan 1.0.6 and New Zealand 16.2.98 defeated Samoa 4.3.27.
Full match reports to come in the next few hours - plus check the Multimedia Gallery for photos and video footage.
After kicking the first goal of the match within 1 minute of the opening of play in their Round 3 match, the Samurai never bothered the score keeper again as the Falcons showed just why they are one of the tournament favourites.
The British Bulldogs are doing it tough at the 2005 International Cup. Their draw is one of the worst, facing what have proven to be 3 of the top 4 sides, in New Zealand, Samoa and PNG. And the British play a physical style of game, which must be taking its toll on their bodies. Today they faced one of the tournament's top fancies on a big ground