Revo's Defeat Ireland

THE American Revolution took a big step forward today when they soundly defeated the defending International Cup Champions, Ireland. The final score line read: USA 10-5:65 to Ireland 4-6:30

The winners of the Cup were New Zealand after they beat Papua New Guinea in the final match at the MCG.

A full match report will be posted on Monday morning. The team leaves tomorrow morning for the long trip home.

Paul “Plugger” O’Keeffe


Kiwis outplay the Revo's

A spirited American Revolution team was denied the right to play the International Cup final at the MCG by a solid New Zealand output. The Kiwis ran out winners by 5 goals in a score that did not reflect the closeness of the game. It was a hard fought contest from the opening Haka to the final throw-in. In the end the superior marking of the Kiwi’s around the ground was the difference.

Before the game the Kiwis danced their Haka and nearly came to blows with the US players when they encroached a little bit too far. The mood of the Haka floated throughout the entire game with neither side giving an inch.

A strong cross-wind was whipping across the ground and favoured the City end; the end that the Kiwis were kicking. In the past few games the Revo’s had given up easy points in the first 60 seconds of each quarter. Was this going to happen today? They kept the Kiwis at bay for 2 minutes before they triumphantly scored.

Tough tackling by the Revos shocked the New Zealanders. After an easy draw that saw the New Zealanders playing 4 easy games (proven by their 500 plus percentage) they were not ready for the Revo’s venom. They knew they were in a contest. A kiwi shot for goal that went out of bounds on the full was the USA reward. A silly 50 meters penalty put the Kiwis in front of goal, but a point was all it deserved. USA gives away another 50 and this one did result in a goal, putting the Kiwis 2 goals up at the quarter. The superior marking of the Kiwis was proving to be the difference. The USA’s inability to hold a mark under a real contest and the ability to smoothly pick up the ball was making it hard work for the Revos.

At the quarter break Coach Al Nugent urged his players to create more dead balls in the tackles to stop the NZ running game. This game I sent the lovely Dr. Tif into the NZ huddle to gain information for readers. There is no way they would suspect Dr. Tif. The NZ coach stated something along the lines like…”hearts and heads will win this game. They don’t respect our country and they don’t respect our football.”

This was a critical quarter coming up for the US as they had the wind. They have to maintain the pressure.

In the end the ability of the New Zealanders to take and hold a contested mark proved the difference. This gave them breathing space from the USA tackling and allowed them to steady the ship at the most crucial times. The USA needs to work on its movement into the forward line in order to capitalize on the hard work in the midfield.

The US came out tackling even harder and kept the Kiwis at bay. Every time NZ looked for the back option handpass the Revo’s swooped down. In many cases they had to look for 4 or 5 back passes to create any space, sometimes driving the Kiwis back 30 meters. It was great tenacious football. However, NZ stuck at it and goaled through a great individual effort across the forward line.

Big Jay Mueller marks and goals for the USA, but NZ come back with a quick reply. At the quarter it is USA 1-1:7 to New Zealand 4-3:27.

At the half I caught up with the legendary Doc Cheffers and asked him for his learned opinion; “The forward line have to fight much harder for the ball. We need to move the ball quickly out of the center.”

The second half started badly for the Revo’s. A quick score for NZ made the deficit 4 goals. A horrible call for a NZ free kick in front of goal increased the hurdle to 5 goals. And then a Kiwi snap for goal made it 7. Is it all over? The Kiwis sitting around me think it is.

The USA push forward but kick into the man on the mark. The USA bottled the ball in the forward line and are eventually rewarded with a goal, but the Kiwis hit straight back and score. The USA push forward and score again. It is close to the siren now. We cannot let the Kiwis get a quick score now or the game will be over. The USA tackles hard and the siren goes. The third quarter scores are NZ 8-3:51 to USA 3-2:20. A 5 goal deficit.

Robbie Oliver urges the players on in the huddle; “we are still in it. Lets beat them now the…(use your imagination)” Coach Al sums it up by saying “we are not here to make up the numbers”.

Dr. Tif returns with the inside scoop from the NZ huddle; “no free kicks, shepherd and protect your mates”.

NZ starts off with a grubber kick that dribbles trough for a goal. The Kiwis goal again. The USA is in desperation tackle after desperation tackle but cannot convert. Finally, a free kick in front of goal and the USA score. The USA scores again, but it is too little too late. The siren goes and NZ celebrate; the USA heads drop. But they shouldn’t drop. Keep your heads high boys; you have done yourself, your league and your country proud. Coach Oliver summed it up “we are very proud of the team. They were never beaten for effort. The dedication and effort put forth by the team has been tremendous and we have improved our ranking over 2002.”

Coach Nugent was reflective after the game; “we played quality opposition. Three years ago we were not competitive with the likes of NZ and PNG. I look forward to further improvement from the US in the next 3 years to the point where PNG and NZ no longer have the upper hand.”

The final score was USA 5-2:32 to NZ 10-4:64
Goal Kickers: Mueller, Bradley, Jones, Blenkenskip, Butler
Best: Lucero, Blenkenskip, Butler, Jones, James BrunmeierThe USA now faces Ireland, on Saturday, in the playoff for third. PNG beat Ireland in the other semi-final 5-4:34 to 3-7:25

The analyses aside the Revo’s have performed well. We are on a long journey and have a number of years to catch-up to PNG and New Zealand. If the journey was easy, it would not be worth taking.

Paul “Plugger” O’Keeffe
in Melbourne, Australia

Match Report - PNG vs USA

Two undefeated teams faced each other today in the Victorian country town of Wangaratta. Papua New Guinea, seeded second coming into the tournament and the United States, who shoved the monkey off their back last Friday when they knocked off Ireland. The teams literally faced each other during the anthems and then the PNG Mosquitoes danced their war Haka right into the faces of the USA team. Both teams knew they were in for a battle.

This game will be decided by the team that can use the broad open space the best. PNG are a physical and quick team. They have the advantage of having grown up with the game. The USA match-up well with strength and speed, but footy experience may be the difference.

With the pre-game ceremonies and tongue pointing out of the way, the game knocked-off with a fierce tempo. PNG drew first blood when the ball hit the post. The USA’s first foray forward did not make it into the 50. PNG rebounded quickly (they do everything quickly) and marked in the goal square. You had the sense that with constant numbers running with ball the Mosquitoes could grab the game by the scruff of the neck and not let go. But within a minute the Revo’s had answered back. George Lakomy, aka Kidney, scooped the ball up and kicked a classic goal on the run, He kicked a grubber across the body and willed the ball to bounce through. He played it like a pro. When you win the center tap and get the ball forward quickly you can create opportunities.

The Revo’s thrusted forward again. James Brunmeier made a long run from the center square, took the ball off the pack and ran into an open goal. Two goals to the USA.

PNG had the dropsy’s. The pressure the Revo’s created at every contest was showing. But PNG had more players at the fall of every ball, especially in their defensive 50. It would be a chess match.

Dustin Jones was moved into a tagging position on number 11, David Evertius.

James Brunmeier marked about 40 meters out. As he ran in the siren sounded and he kicked true. It was the best kick of his life. His kick gave the Revo’s a nice lead; 3-0:18 to 1-2:8. The PNGers had moved the ball better, but the USA had taken their opportunities to the bank.

The quarter huddle was a sight to behold. The red, white and blue of the Americans surrounded by spectators 5 or 6 deep, with hundreds of the local school kids kicking the footy in the background. Coach Nugent urged his players to continue to run and chase; we have the jump on them and we need to kill their spirit.

The PNGers had not heard the speech from Coach Al because they came out inspired and scored from a snap shot within the first 60 seconds. The Mosquitoes pushed forward again, through quick hands, and snapped again. The dropsy’s had become contagious and the US had caught them. It bounced true, just missing the post. PNG had turned the game on its head and were now up by three. This was the test the USA expected.

James Brunmeier marks again. He kicks true. It was a fitting reward for good USA ball movement. USA back in front by 2.

PNG push forward and get a free kick on an impossible angle. Let me re-type that…a possible angle as the kick just makes the distance. PNG push forward again. The ball is in the air; the siren goes. This time it was PNG that got the advantage of the siren.

At the half it is USA 4-0:24 to PNG 5-4:34. PNG had hit the front due to inspired efforts in the first and last two minute stretches of the quarter.

PNG have had more numbers to the fall of the ball and are running in numbers. You would swear they were running 22 on the field. However, the Revo’s had taken advantage of their opportunities, but will they be able to keep PNG quiet for long enough. A semifinal spot is not in the bag for the Americans and they need the win to make sure they are still in the hunt to play Saturday at the MCG.

The cry of “USA” comes rumbling up through the grandstand where we are sitting. The Revo’s have been a second half team this tournament, and you just hope they will continue that trend today. The USA controls the first five minutes of the quarter, but they cannot capitalize. PNG has a great run against play, going the full length of the field to score a goal. Fast hands, but faster feet. The Revo’s are unable to score until PNG make a mistake in front of goal. Brandon Blenkenskip mops up in front and scores easily. The Revo’s have cut it back to 10 points.

The ball moves forward again and Charlie Ellis takes a strong mark in front. But it is called a ball-up as both teams marked the ball. The USA ends up with a point from that thrust forward. Tenacious tackling by the USA has kept them in it and they are clawing back one point at a time. The Revo’s work hard to create space and use the back pass, but to be effective against a fast side like PNG, the back pass needs to be 10 meters, not 3.

For the third straight quarter a kick is awarded as the siren goes. This time it is the USA’s chance, but only a point can be gained from the advantage. USA had the wind in the third, did all the hard work, but could not convert. The USA trail by 6 points 5-3:34 to 6-4:40.

As we move into the last quarter the wind is picking up. This will make it harder for the Revo’s. PNG has numbers running through the middle and score within the first 60 seconds. PNG jump to a 10 point lead…can it be overcome? USA lifts the pressure at every contest. PNG kicks it out on the full, and then out on the full again. It is scrambling footy now. It is all desperation. The pressure causes another ball to go out of bounds on the full. Yet again, it is out of bounds on the full. Could this be the great escape? Four times the PNGers have shot at goal and seen it float wide, very wide. This time they hit the post and the lead stretches to 12 points and then 13 points. That makes it three kicks for the Revo’s to catch-up, and the minutes are running low. Jeff Purcell, aka Fingers, takes a specky right in front and kicks true. They now trail by 7 and have a sniff.

The USA runs forward again from the bounce. James Brunmeier marks again on the line. He runs around to improve the angle and scores…and then the siren sounds. PNG in a nail-biter. A brilliant last 2 minutes by the USA and they show great pride to claw their way back into the contest. Those last two goals could be an important for percentage. So close…just one point short.

USA: 7-4:46
PNG: 7-5:47

Goal Scorers: James Brunmeier (4), Lakomy, Purcell, Blenkenskip (1)

Best: James Brunmeier, C. Ellis, Mueller, Lucero, Strenski, Carroll

After the game the Revo’s congratulated the Mosquitoes in the middle of the ground and the large crowd of a few thousand spectators cheered in applause of a fantastic game of footy. The Revo’s were lead off the field behind co-captain Donnie Lucero. The Revo’s win as a team, but they lose as a team as well.

After the game Coach Al Nugent told me how proud he was of the team; “they were fantastic. We drew the first and second seed and we still made the semi-finals.” Assistant Coach Robbie Oliver echoed those comments; “we refused to surrender and we missed out by the barest of margins”

James Brumeier, with a best on ground performance, was already looking towards the semi-finals; “If we face them again we can beat them, but we still have a lot of work to do. We can still make the Grand Final”.

The USA now needed to wait for the conclusion of round 4 to be certain of a semi-final spot. An upset by Samoa against New Zealand would see a nervous USA coaching staff getting out the calculators to work out the percentages. But that was not to be as New Zealand ran out easy winners in the last match of the day. Ireland knocked off a spirited Japanese side, Great Britain won by two points over Canada and South Africa beat Cup new comers Spain.

The semi finals on Thursday see PNG take on Ireland and New Zealand face the Revo’s. New Zealand were given the easiest draw into the semi’s and have not been pushed by any of the teams they have faced to date. This easy run will hurt them when they come up against a Revo side looking for redemption after today’s loss.

Paul “Plugger” O’Keeffe
in Wangaratta, Australia

- Paul O'Keeffe

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