IC17 Preview: Matchday 4

Three years of work, three rounds of games, and the two American representative sides at the 2017 AFL International Cup have one game each to determine whether or not they’ll play in the Grand Final on the game’s biggest stages, the MCG and Etihad Stadium.

For the Freedom women, it’s academic: defeat Canada in the semifinal and they’re through.  For the Revolution boys, it’s a matter of defeating France and getting an awful lot of help.  It’s possible, but a lot will have to fall into place.

And so, decision day is neigh at Royal Park, and the hopes of a nation ride squarely on the hodgepodge of 60 men and women who began as a large rabble to be sifted through.  No American team has made it to an IC Grand Final, and it’s possible two teams might do the deed on Tuesday.

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Men’s Division 1 Round Four
USA Revolution (2-1) v Les Coqs de France (0-3)
Royal Park, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Local Time: Tuesday, August 15, 9:30am AEDT (Monday 7:30pm USEDT/4:30pm USPDT)

France is a much tougher team than their last place standing on the ladder will suggest, and a number of their players, including Clement Bouchet, Benoit Treuillet, and Anthony Bernad have had sparkling tournament so far for Les Coqs.

For the Revos, however, this is the team that they match up best against, of the four that they’ve played so far.  Tom Ellis will be resting some banged up bodies due to injury after the slugfest at Montrose, but he’ll also have some rested players who sat out the PNG game, ruckman Donald Lee among them, fresh and ready.

This is the first ever meeting between the Americans and French in international footy play.  And, this match couldn’t have higher stakes to it; the Americans have to win by a large margin, hope that PNG either loses to South Africa or the Lions keep the Mozzies at bay, and then hope that New Zealand beats Ireland.  All of this just to break into the top two, and garner a spot at the MCG on Saturday for the final.

It’s going to take a lot of help, but sometimes one can catch lightning in a bottle, and lucky for the Revos, they have a pretty big bottle.

Women’s Division Semifinals
USA Freedom (2-1) v Canada Northern Lights (3-0)
Royal Park, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Local Time: Tuesday, August 15, 1pm AEDT (Monday 11pm USEDT/8pm USPDT)

Leigh Barnes and his teams righted the ship after the opening round stumble to Ireland, and after a record setting 127-0 win over the Crusaders on Sunday, they’ll head to the Semi-finals against an old rival in the Lights, who they have only beaten once in international play.  Both teams will be on one day’s rest, so fitness will be the key to unlock the achievement: Grand Final.

Canada’s trip has been bumpier than the road from Saskatoon to Yellowhorse (circa 1875 at least).  They won a very controversial golden point victory over a surging Fiji side, 16-15, then defeated Pakistan by 188 and then final against Great Britain (30-3) to seal the spot in this semi-final.  Though the Northwind have played strong, if you take out the Pakistan rout, the Canadians have only kicked 6.20 in the game, will look to erase that state if they hope to repeat as IC Women’s Champions.

The Northwind have never fallen to the Freedom at International Cup, having defeated the American contingent twice, one ince 2011 and again in 2014. 

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