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Flames lead the way

Sports

THE Papua New Guinea women’s AFL side thumped a European Crusaders outfit in the opening fixture of the AFL International Cup on Sunday.
The Flames proved a class above their northern hemisphere rivals at Royal Park in Melbourne winning 6.19 (55) to the nil.
In the men’s contest, the PNG Mosquitoes were valiant going down to Ireland 5.10 (40) to 4.7 (31).
It was a cold, windy and wet day to kick off the AFL’s sixth International Cup with the Flames getting off to a dream start while their men were edged in a tough, dour match.
Having banned any talk of cold both teams made their way to Royal Park well rugged up in their new tribal uniforms looking ready for battle.
With many new countries involved in IC17, the PNG teams felt confident of doing their nation proud.
The Mozzies were expecting a tough encounter with arch rivals Ireland and smaller ground meant the Mozzies had to be precise in their ball movement and fanatical in the pressure they applied on their opponents.
The Flames were up against the Crusaders, a combined women’s team selected from across Europe at the Cup for the first time.
As a bit of an unknown quantity the Flames focused their preparation on their own game plan which was to run, share and spread to space in attack and to hit hard in defence.
The Mosquitoes came out to a strong wind blowing in Ireland’s favour in the first quarter with light rain falling sideways.  But it was not the weather that confronted the Mozzies, rather the Irish had picked an exceptionally tall squad with several of them over 200cm tall.
PNG’s talls had their work cut out giving away 10cms or more in ruck and marking contests.
Kicking with the wind on the tiny ground the Irish players delivered the ball long and high into their forward line and their big players were able to mark while their PNG opponents scrambled to get the ball to ground and going forward.
The Irish kicked the first three goals of the match to lead by that margin at quarter time.  The Mozzies coaching staff did not panic urging the players to bring more pressure, more effort and to spread once they had the ball.
Not to be denied the Mozzies came out in the second quarter and attacked the contests with renewed ferocity and the momentum of the game turned.
The Irish started to falter when they got the ball and PNG started to execute the Daryl White ‘bomb spread’ tactic to exploit our advantage in pace and skill.
The tight quarters of the ground did not really suit the Mozzies’ style.
By the end of the third quarter, the Mozzies had clawed back the lead and went in to the final quarter with a slim two-point lead 4.6 (30) to 4.4 (28).
In the end the Irish scored a nine-point win.
PNG’s goal scorers were Tyler Gorogo (2), Kataha Siwee (1) and Matt Little (1) while best across the park for them were John Ikupu, Gideon Simon, John James and Willie Aisi.
Gravely disappointed they could not bring home their advantage they now must win their next contest against Nauru and then press on with the hope.
Fortunately for PNG all was not lost and as the Mozzies came off after a tough loss they looked across to see their sisters the Flames dominating their game against the Crusaders.
The golden uniformed Flames were on fire early and by halftime lead 36-0.
Their game plan was executed with precision and their speed and skill was too much for the Europeans.
The PNG girls ran in numbers and waves, applying pressure all over the ground and their forwards continually kept the scoreboard ticking over throughout the match.  – AFL.com

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