AFL England

IC17 Mens Round 4- Bulldogs in fine form against Fiji

Following the Ireland defeat Head Coach Dean Thomas stated that it would be a travesty for this GB playing group to go home with anything other than a 3/2 record in this International Cup. Enter Fiji in Round 4…

The Bulldogs had faced Fiji twice in IC14 coming out with a win and a loss- in the first game not being prepared for the physicality of the islanders. Both teams had won well in Round 1 of IC17 but had subsequently suffered two losses, not showing their true potential.

It was a scrappy first ruck with noone really claiming the ball. Fiji launched the first attack which was easily snuffed out by the GB defence. Shortly afterwards and still within the first minute a long ball from Hastie (Wimbledon Hawks) was hoisted towards Walkden (Manchester Mosquitoes)who failed to mark but a free was called in GBs favour for a high contact on Ryan Floyd (Fitzoy). Floyd made no mistake from in front of the posts slotting the first goal with ease- GB not making the same slow start as has overshadowed their last 2 games. This followed a period of early pressure from the Bulldogs with Walkden, leading the goal scorers of the IC17 competition, the clear target. Marks that would normally stick for GB were not in the first term which is probably testament to the workrate of the Fijians in defence who tackled typically hard with many of the GB midfielders being collected heavily on numerous occasions. GB spent long periods in the Fiji half but it was not until the final 30 seconds that the second major was scored. In the final play of Q1 GB pressure paid off with Andrew Cochran slotting through the middle on the run from some distance- a classy finish.

Q2 started as the match did with GB goalling early. Booth (Huddersfield Rams) was collected high and late 30 meters out and although he didn’t have the accuracy to convert, Walkden took a strong mark and spun quickly to convert. It was then Fiji’s turn to apply sustained pressure but for the most part they weren’t able to convert with 3 further rushed behinds by the GB defence. GB did well to get numbers to the contest but struggled to get the ball out of the half back line for the most part however when they did Kadnapillai found some space and despite pressure (and a particularly heavy hit after the ball had gone) was able to get his kick away and put it through for GBs fourth goal to further extend the GB lead. Fiji were rewarded by their first goal deep into Q2 which, truth be told, was deserved after camping in the GB half for the best part of Q2. Half time and it was GB who led by 18 points.

With light rain starting to fall it was  really messy start to Q3 with neither team being able to take their marks. It was a hard hitting quarter from both sides too with Fiji eventually overstepping the mark with Dougie Houston being taken late resulting in a free, him being escorted off the ground by the trainers and the Fiji player seeing a yellow card. Cue some good old fashioned push & shove in the background as David Hastie lined up to take the free. With the Fiji moving off the mark he was awarded a further 25m and Hastie made no mistake slotting his third of the tournament and providing an important settler for GB. Ill discipline once again cost Fiji less than a minute later giving Jason Hill (Wimbledon Hawks) a second chance at a clearance. The ball went long with Coughlan toe-poking through to space, allowing Hastie to run onto the ball and convert for his second goal in less than a minute. GB clinical and clear by 27 points at the break.

Fiji again started Q4 with their ninth behind- GB grateful for Fiji’s inaccuracy. After a mistake by the Fiji halfback putting a clearance out on the full, GB played on quickly and the busy Walkden was able to take a flying mark 25m from goal and converted for his 2nd and GBs 7th goal. After some beautiful running football with captain Will Worthington integral in creating space Matias was able to find Cashman who made no mistake this time from 40m out from goal. Fiji replied almost immediately creating a goal from nothing with  Nawaqatabu volleying the ball off the floor to send  through for only their 2nd major. At the death, a miskick out of defence while switching play from Denton went straight to Fiji allowing Vunitabua to mark and slot through for their third making the final score look a lot more respectable.

The Bulldogs will now face Nauru on Friday, another team they faced twice at IC14- narrowly ending in defeat on both occasions. A win will guarantee GB their best finish position in an International Cup to date. #BacktheBulldogs and follow this match LIVE here.


Match stats:

Q1: GB 2.3 (15) Fiji 0.2 (2)

Q2: GB 4.5 (29) Fiji 1.5 (11)

Q3: GB 6.5 (41)  Fiji 1.8 (14)

FT: GB 8.8 (56) Fiji 3.9 (27)

Goal Kickers: GB- D. Hastie 2, A. Walkden 2, F. Ryan, A. Cochran, M. Cashman, S. Kadnapillai

Fiji: A. Navuso, N. Qio Nawaqatabu, J. Vunitabua

Best Players: GB- A. Cochran, R. Denton, D. Hastie, A. Watson, G. Dibble, A. Walkden

Fiji: J. Vunitabua, J. Vateitei, J. Macanawai, L. Maiqereqere, N. Bainimoli Waqa, I. Moses