No weather concerns for the AFL IC17 Women's Grand Final. Under the closed roof of Etihad Stadium. Pre game both sides warm up with no worries of a torrential down pour as blighted the men at the MCG earlier this morning.
4:20 pm - The team photos taken pre game - the field is cleared. Umpires enter.
4:25 pm - Players and umpires assemble - national anthems played.
Canada kicking to the 'left of screen' - the Northern or Footscray Rd end. No noticeable breeze!!!
We are delighted to have the GB Swans Captain Laura Turner preview the IC17 Women's Division Grand Final. Laura of course, over the past week or so has seen both of these teams close up.
The 2017 AFL International Cup Women's Final will take place on Saturday and will feature two tournament rivals Canada Northern Lights and the Irish Banshees. Despite valiant efforts from newcomers to the tournament the GB Swans and the more experienced USA Freedom the final is the same match up as in IC14 and IC11.
Melbourne provided a lie - early morning sunshine - nearing game time along came the dark clouds and the Papua New Guinea Mosquitoes and New Zealand Hawks warm up and pre game photos became rain drenched.
Both sides now face the task of a 5th game in 2 weeks - on the vast expanses of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The surface of course is superb - there is no muddy centre wicket area - there's no patchy grass or exposed soil. There is though a 50 metre arc (not 45m) and wide wings. The capacity to cover territory and retain run in the legs will be critical. No height advantage is worth anything without supply.
Under mostly blue skies the game gets underway - New Zealand kicking to the Punt Road end. PNG to the City end.
It was a freezing cold wintry day in Melbourne as Royal Park's Western Oval hosted the clash between the Indonesian Garudas and the Sri Lankan Lions in the 3rd / 4th playoff in the IC17 Men's Division 2. This match was tight and even from the opening bounce to the final siren with a point separating both teams at each quarter break and this was the margin at the conclusion of the match too - a remarkable scoreline throughout the battle.
The Indonesian Garudas started the match strongly with plenty of inside 50s, but they let themselves down in front of goal as they only managed the one goal from their six shots with near misses. Whereas the Sri Lankan Lions had less scoring shots than the Garudas but they made the most of their limited opportunities with two goals and led by a point at quarter time. The end of the first term was tight and even with scrappy footy from both teams and this was the tale of the remaining three quarters as well.
Just a week after their last match together a quirk in the way the playoffs fell meant Pakistan faced off against India again in the IC17 Men's Division final round. The tone of the match was set by the traditional rivalry between Pakistan and India that we typically see on the cricket pitch. In this case they have swapped the bat and ball for an oval shaped ball but the intensity and aggression was still evident during play.
The teams' respective national anthems played as the sun shone down on them in what was calmer conditions compared to earlier that morning. The Pakistan Mens Shaheens were joined by the Women Shaheens for the national anthem which added a unified addition to their line up.
Pakistan came out in dominant fashion in the first quarter, they constantly launched the ball forward, deep into their forward 50m and their roving from ruck contests was at a semi-elite level, proving that they also dominated hitouts as well as possession. The first goal of the match came against the run of play with India’s Darius Fernandes (#12) being awarded a free kick for a push in the back 15m out, directly in front. India looked very controlled with their ball movement in contrast to Pakistan’s getting it forward at all cost, which finally paid off with two goals coming from their impressive roving skills from Kashif Khan (#7) and Takashi (#35) both snapping for goal and using the breeze to their advantage. Whilst in the last two minutes of the quarter Muqeet Qureshi (#4) pounced on the loose ball in the forward pocket, wheeled around and snapped a bouncing goal on his right boot.
It was a cold windy winter's morning in Melbourne for the Women’s clash between Fiji Vonu and Papua New Guinea Flames at Royal Park – McAlister Oval. The winner would claim 5th spot and the loser 6th spot in the IC17 Women's Division.
The first term was tight and scrappy with neither team able to gain clear possession in the centre. It wasn't until halfway through the first that Fiji Vonu was able to get on top in the centre over the Flames. Fiji Vonu had lots of inside 50s towards the end of the first, but the Flames defence held up well with great interception marks in their defensive 50. Both teams were goalless at quarter time with Vonu the only team able to score, managing two points and keep the Flames scoreless. Given the extreme pressure Fiji has exerted even on the top teams this was no surprise.
The Europeans Crusaders have won their first match and the Pakistan Shaheens have left it until the last minute to ICe their first IC goal
The battle for 7th and 8th spot in the Women's Division kicked off under an overcast sky and as assured by the Melbourne locals, a typical bitter wind. With Linn Gardell in ruck and kicking with the wind the Crusaders were quick to attack and push the ball into their forward line and confidence took a huge leap when Berengere Portal drilled the Crusaders' first International Cup major. Using the wind to their advantage the Crusaders kept the ball in their forward half and peppered the goals, Mathilde Coombes slotting the Crusaders' second IC goal.
First Quarter Scores: Crusaders 2-5 (17) Shaheens 0-0 (0)
Men’s Division 1 U.S.A. Revolution Vs Ireland Warriors
Playoff for positions 3 & 4.
The men’s division has been a tight affair with one of the grand final place being decided by percentage. It could easily have been these two teams in the big dance. A marking infringement saw New Zealand kick a goal after the siren for them to qualify for the Grand Final and in doing so PNG moved into the Grand Final on percentage and eliminated Ireland. So close.
Both the U.S.A. Revolultion and the Ireland Warriors play a similar style of football and have the same profile of players. This contest on paper was impossible to pick a winner. The Warriors had the experience of previous International Cup appearances as well as European Cup appearances. Many of the Revolution players lacked international contests but their tall team had garnered impressive wins except for against PNG.
Ireland was probably favourite going into this game. They had defeated the PNG Mosquitos in round one and had only lost to New Zealand with the final kick of the day in round four. The U.S.A. has had a slightly easier run with the draw but was beaten comprehensively by the Mosquitos in round three. Overall the Revos have seen another big improvement in standard. They’ve improved over and above other teams that have also improved. But the Warriors' team always consist of a totally competitive unit.
The Division One 5th place playoff with the two mid table sides – each having won 2 and lost 2 – perhaps the prediction might be a drawn match. The Brits two losses were to Canada and Ireland while wins achieved over South Africa and Fiji. The Nauru Chiefs ran into the brick wall of the NZ Hawks on day 1 and subsequently scored wins over Canada and France while falling short against PNG after a horrible first quarter at Sebastopol in Ballarat. The Brits take in the height advantage while the Chiefs prefer to open out the play and use the ball with precision both by hand and foot. The weather would play it’s part in this game – as the first half was played in real wintry Melbourne conditions. Suddenly at half time – out came the sun. The wind though – was a constant. This was a hard and physical game that saw the Chiefs have to work overtime to finally kick clear after half time - the Brits at the main break could taste a defining victory but in the end - it went the way that these contests have in the past.
On a frosty, early morning both the Dragons and Samurais were out warming up, full of energy despite the cold conditions. The strong gusts of wind whipped across the ground that had potential to make kicking a challenge today.
Japan and China came into this match with a 2-1 record in their sections and losses in their semi finals. This meant they were playing off for 3rd and 4th place in Division 2.
Being the highest ranked Asian nations in the International Cup, the title for the match 'The Battle for Asia' was being thrown around in the crowd.