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South Pacific rules the World in warm up match

  • Friday, July 02 2010 @ 11:00 am ACST
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General News

The World18 and the South Pacific teams to play in the Under 16 National Championships next week were in Melbourne this week to be acclimatised to playing Australian football in Australia. With many of the players not accustomed to playing 18 a side and in some cases not completely familiar with the rules it gives the coaching staff of both teams a chance to cram in teaching of skills and tactics as well.

At Melbourne University oval yesterday both teams had their second warm up match against each other after their match earlier in the week separated them by just a goal. Media assembly at the event was diluted by a large police raid and blockade in Melbourne’s west, but built as the session continued. The World team in blue and the South Pacific in red kits (not the team kits for next week’s championships) both went through warm up drills for about half an hour before the formalities got underway.

Both teams lined up in one long line across the centre of the ground and a minutes silence was held for the father of one of the Naruan’s on the South Pacific team who tragically passed away and the sadness was clearly felt by every member of the close knit team. Our condolences go out to the player concerned, and to his family.

Played as two twenty minute halves the World Team looked faster early and the side were evenly matched. But it didn’t take long for the mostly bigger South Pacific team to wrest control, but it could not have done so without their smaller players at ground level who were the real drivers with clean hands and good foot skills. By half time the South Pacific were four goals up. The World team were not without their own chances and repelled well off the half back line but could not break through.

The second half was more of the same as coaches worked hard to get everyone of their squad into the game, the World 18 pushed a little harder now though and after a couple of shots missed the goal they did register a major. The game was definitely played in good spirits and the skills of all players were of a good standard, even those that had not played the game before this week like the two players from Argentina have developed very quickly. Official scores were not kept but the final margin was around seven goals.

The World team players that are living locally and playing week to week footy give the World side some good structure and mostly first use of the ball through their 201cm ruckman (15 year old Joseph Lo Buluk) and South Adelaide player Emmanuel Irra uses the ball well. Danish player Mathias Biron is looking very impressive; England's Lewis Brackstone looks a likely key position player and works well with Irelands Sean O’Kennedy who was hard at it all day. Clayton Lund and Alex McPhee are leading the way for North America. The silky smooth skills of the South African contingent also stood out in particular Prince Nematswerani.

The South Pacific team looked good, with the pacey Solomon Loki from Fiji getting plenty of the ball all around the ground and plenty of drive and flair from the PNG players who all looked like they had plenty of footy under their belt. Freddy Una Felix also looks to be a well schooled in footy and could surprise a few with his skills coming out of the Solomon Islands. Liam Ackland continues on from his international cup form with another good game of footy under his belt. Overall they have a good balance in the air and on the ground and should do their respective countries proud.

There is no doubt both teams will be hard at each other in their first official clash and on the strength of this game it is hard to see the World team getting over the South Pacific team. As for their other two matches, well they will have their work cut out against full teams of elite 16 year olds who play the game week in week out. This tour is a great achievement by the footy clubs around the world to make the Australian game available to the youths around them. It is a great initiative by the AFL to support those efforts and to also make their own efforts by including these teams and putting funds, time and effort in planting this seed that will hopefully grow and continue to bear fruit well beyond this first crop.

The teams rounded out their Melbourne visit by attending last night's Carlton vs Brisbane AFL match at Docklands before heading to Sydney today.