New Zealand game report
Ireland v New Zealand
Ireland 5.16 (46) def New Zealand 2.1 (13)
Ireland Warriors have set up a tantalising Grand Final showdown with Papua New Guinea following their impressive 33-point victory over New Zealand Hawks.
The Warriors led from start to finish to progress through to Saturday’s Grand Final curtain-raiser to the Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs match at the MCG.
In perfect conditions at Royal Park, Ireland and New Zealand played out a fierce, bruising and tactical semi final.
The Irish seemed to have numbers all around the ground and easily found their way through New Zealand’s defensive zone.
The Hawks have played with a defensive zone all tournament – often with up to four men behind the ball – but it finally came unstuck today against the highly skillful and determined Irish.
Ireland had all of the run and the momentum from the outset continually pumping the ball into their forward 50.
The Hawks’ zone withstood the early pressure until Michael Carey (#40) kicked truly from beyond the arc, following up moments later with another goal.
Leading by 23 points at halftime, the Hawks threw everything at their opponents in the remaining two quarters in a last ditch attempt to play in this year’s final.
With Ireland’s inaccurate kicking (16 behinds for the match) they left the door slightly open for a come-from-behind victory.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be despite starring performances by Steven Howard (#14) and Andrew Howison (#30). In the end the Warriors were too good winning by five goals.
Despite being knocked out of the tournament, the Hawks can hold their heads high and will certainly continue to improve and be a force on the international stage at future tournaments.
For Ireland, it was an another impressive performance and they’ll head into the Grand Final against PNG confident they’ve got what it takes to win their second international title.
Michael Carey (#40) was instrumental in the victory kicking all five of his team’s goals – all of which were in the first half. Carey was assisted by Michael Finn (#9) and Kevin O’Brien (#28) to help keep the Warriors’ undefeated record intact.
They now set up easily the match of the tournament against the favourites and last tournament’s winners Papua New Guinea.
In front of a big crowd at the MCG, it is a match which can certainly go either way.
Goal kickers: M Carey 5
Best players: M Finn, K O’Brien, M Carey, R Hanmore, S McGuinness, P Bredin
Goal kickers: A Christensen, L Swart
Best players: S Howard, A Howison, A Sucu, A Harris, A Crighton, J Court
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